Folkes, Martin - Treatise on the Roman coinage and weights of metals - London, British Library - Add MS 4391

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Martin Folkes, London, 1736/01/22

Folkes, Martin - Treatise on the Roman coinage and weights of metals - London, British Library - Add MS 4391
FINA IDUnique ID of the page  16552
TitleTitel of the book. Treatise on the Roman coinage and weights of metals
InstitutionName of Institution. London, British Library
InventoryInventory number. Add MS 4391
AuthorAuthor of the document. Martin Folkes
Publication dateDate when the publication was issued: day - month - year . January 22, 1736
PlacePlace of publication of the book, composition of the document or institution. London 51° 29' 21.60" N, 0° 8' 38.60" W
Associated personsNames of Persons who are mentioned in the annotation. Fulvio Orsini, Louis Savot, Thomas Birch
KeywordNumismatic Keywords  Roman , Roman Republican , Greek , Denarii , Jewish , Silver , Bronze , Gold , Late Roman Empire, Metrology , Society Of Antiquaries
LiteratureReference to literature. Orsini 15771, Savot 16272, Burnett 2020b, pp. 1110-133
LanguageLanguage of the correspondence English
External LinkLink to external information, e.g. Wikpedia 
Grand documentOriginal passage from the "Grand document".

A MS among the papers of Thomas Birch in the BL (and wrongly attributed to him in the BL catalogue). Its contents align closely with the summary of a dissertation read by Folkes to the Society of Antiquaries on 15 and 22 January 1735/6, and recorded in the Society's minutes (Vol. II, pp. 139-40).

'The manuscript covers Roman, Greek and Jewish coinage, in that order. The Roman section is the longest, accounting for about half of the paper, and the coins are treated, in turn, by metal, silver (ff.1–8v), bronze (ff.8v– 12r), gold (ff.12r–14v), with a coda on late Roman silver (ff.14v–15r). The discussion of Greek coins is ff.15r–21v, and includes a section on what Folkes regarded as Roman coins struck to a Greek standard (ff.20r– 21v).38 The work concludes with a rather shorter account of Jewish coins (ff.21v–23v).
His approach is metrological, starting, much in the long tradition stemming from Budé, with the texts and then moving on to the weights of the actual coins themselves, many of which he had weighed himself. The coins he had weighed are:

Greek coins: ‘old’ Athens, Rhodes, Sicily, cistophori, Alexander the Great, Lysimachus and the Ptolemies; Roman coins: Republican gold (Palazzi and Medici collections), Republican and early imperial gold, imperial denarii including Nero (where he had noted the weight reduction), gold coins of the 3rd century in the Medici cabinet, and late Roman solidi.

... Folkes does not cite other modern authors very much, although he refers to Orsini and Savot (ff.6r, 20v),40 in both cases to disagree with them.' (Burnett 2020b, pp. 1110-12)


  1. ^  Orsini, Fulvio (1577), Familiae romanae quae reperiuntur in antiquis numismatibus ab urbe condita ad tempora divi Augusti ex Bibliotheca Fulvi Ursini, Adiunctis familiis XXX ex libro Antoni Augustini, ep. Ilerdensis, Rome.
  2. ^  Savot, Louis (1627), Discours sur les medalles antiques divisé en quatre parties. Esquelles il est traicté si les Medalles antiques estoient monnoyes [...], chez Sebastien Cramoisy, Paris.
  3. ^  Burnett, Andrew M. (2020), The Hidden Treasures of this Happy Land. A History of Numismatics in Britain from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, BNS Special Publ. No 14 = RNS Special Publ. No 58, London, Spink & Son.