Hannes, Edward - Aedis Christi Numismata

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Edward Hannes, Oxford, 1686

Hannes, Edward - Aedis Christi Numismata
FINA IDUnique ID of the page  14347
TitleTitel of the book. Ædis Christi Numismata. Quorum Duo sunt Aurea: Unum, plumbeum: 136, Ænea: 366, Argentea. Ex Argenteis Romanis, 27 sunt victoriati; 3 sestertij; Cæteri autem, Denarij
InstitutionName of Institution. Oxford, Christ Church Library
PlacePlace of publication of the book, composition of the document or institution. Oxford 51° 45' 3.64" N, 1° 15' 17.64" W
InventoryInventory number. MS 690
AuthorAuthor of the document. Edward Hannes
Catalogue dateDate when the catalogue was issued: day - month - year . 1686
LanguageLanguage of the correspondence Latin
Associated personsNames of Persons who are mentioned in the annotation.
LiteratureReference to literature. Burnett 2017-20181, Burnett 2020b, pp. 1444-5, 407-82
External LinkLink to external information, e.g. Wikpedia  https://digital.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/objects/cdbbc3ca-0a2b-4c78-b0b7-b1c17de222e7/
KeywordNumismatic Keywords  Christ Church Oxford, Coin Collection , Roman , Bronze Coins , Aurei , Denarius , Silver Coins , Greek , Roman Imperial , Roman Republican
Grand documentOriginal passage from the "Grand document".

'The Christ Church Library Donors’ Book under the year 1686 records that ‘Ornatissimus juvenis Eduardus Hannes A.B. et hujus Aedis Alumnus D.D. Libr. Ms. a se ipso compositum, in quo omnia numismata quae in hac bibliotheca extant, recensentur et explicantur, secundum Seriem Abacorum in quibus reponuntur’ [the most splendid young man, Edward Hannes, BA, and student of this House, gave as a gift this manuscript book, composed by himself, in which all the coins in the library are catalogued and explained, following the order of the trays in which they are placed]. The catalogue has recently been rediscovered and identified by David Rundle. Although unsigned, the manuscript catalogue contains enough internal pointers to allow it to be identified as that made by Edward Hannes and given to Christ Church in 1686.

The title of the volume is:

Ædis Christi Numismata. Quorum Duo sunt Aurea: Unum, plumbeum: 136, Ænea: 366, Argentea. Ex Argenteis Romanis, 27 sunt victoriati; 3 sestertij; Cæteri autem, Denarij.

The title is puzzling in several ways:

  • the total amounts to 505, but this is 20 (or 27) more than the number of coins listed in the catalogue (see below);
  • there is only one gold coin (VII-26, a gold solidus of Theodosius I), although two silver coins are described as gilded on one side (II-1, Caesar: ‘AR antic. deaurat’; III-38, Hadrian: ‘AR alter. part. deaur.’);
  • the term ‘victoriatus’ must here be applied to the late Roman silver siliquae (of which there are 27 in the main catalogue, plus another among the incerti), rather than its normal application to the silver ‘victoriati’ coins produced in the Roman Republic, of which no specimens appear in the catalogue. Hannes shows that he himself knows this normal usage in his comments on I-33, and I am not aware of any other contemporary use of the term in this way. It is not used in this sense by Edward Bernard (De ponderibus, p. 100), who correctly calls it the word used for a half denarius or quinarius. Hannes must have used it on the title page as a way of conveying the lighter weight of the late Roman pieces;
  • the only lead coin seems to be the ‘quoddam Numisma Plumbeum inscript. Hebr:’ [a certain lead coin with a Hebrew inscription], presented by Edward Stradling and listed as one of the additions at the end of the volume (whatever it may have been);
  • the three ‘sestertii’ perhaps include I-33, which we would call a quinarius; it is not clear which the other two are.

The catalogue sets out a list of the coins tray by tray (abacus), as described in the Donor’s Book (secundum Seriem Abacorum in quibus reponuntur). There were a total of nine trays, and the largest number of spaces (loculi) in any tray was 99. This suggests that a tray might have had either 9x11 or 10x10 spaces; probably the latter as it would explain why, after the gap in numbering at the end of the few Greek coins, the sequence resumes with number 11, as if starting a new row. Some of the trays may have had fewer ‘loculi’, as for example tray II, which had to accommodate some larger sestertius-sized coins. Trays with a hundred spaces would have been quite large, and presumably they would have been fitted into some sort of cabinet.
The original listing comprised the following categories (with numbers of coins listed, to which a small number of additions were made):

I Nummi Graeci (1–6) Nummi Ante-Caesariani R. seu Numi Familiaru’ R. om’es Argenti (11–43) (+ 4 additions)
II Nummi Imperatorum a C. Caesare (1–42) (+ 2 additions)
III Nummi Impp. (1–63)
IV Nummi Impp. (1–80)
V Nummi Impp. (1–99)
VI Nummi Impp. (1–99) (+1 addition)
VII Nummi Impp. (1–33)
VIII Nummi incerti (1–23)
IX Numism. Miscellan. This is mentioned only at the end of the ‘Synopsis’ on f.63v, and no details of its contents are given anywhere.

The number of coins listed for I–VIII was originally 478, to which a total of seven more coins were later added, making a total of 485, still 20 short of the 505 totalled on the title page. The additional material from the four later donors on f.65r comprise only a further 4, but they were anyway added later. Presumably the explanation for the discrepancy is that there were 20 items in Abacus IX of ‘miscellaneous coins’ (Numism[ata] Miscellan[ea]), whatever they may have been. They were presumably not Greek or Roman coins, and a guess would be that they would have been later non-classical coins; for example, English medieval and modern, thereby perhaps also accounting for the other gold coin; and perhaps also for the 2 small silver ones (the missing ‘sestertii’) and perhaps also for the lead piece mentioned in the title.
The collection had a few Greek coins (six), but was mostly of Roman, and predominantly Roman Imperial coins of the second to fourth centuries AD. The mints of the late Roman coins allow us to deduce that the coins were almost certainly gathered in Britain, since mint-marks of the western empire predominate (London, Trier, Lyon, Arles). In addition, the group of 27 late Roman silver coins, ranging in date from Constantius II to Honorius, reflects exactly the composition and mint-marks of a late Roman silver coin hoard. Such silver hoards have always been frequently found in Britain, and the presence of similar coins in the Cotton collection in the early 17th century looks like a group from a similar, or even the same, hoard. One could believe that the bulk of the Roman imperial denarii may have a similar British origin, but that must remain more hypothetical. Roman Republican denarii are also found in large quantities in Britain, as indeed, rarely, are specimens of Domitian’s silver coins from Lycia, the only Roman provincial coin in the collection (II-29). Only a very few of the other coins, such as the Greek coins, are likely to have emanated from further afield, but we know that there had been at least some Greek coins in Britain from the middle of the 16th century; e.g., in the collection of Roger Ascham.
A later hand, identified as that of Charles Brent, has noted in the catalogue where several coins are missing, by writing ‘deest’ [it is lacking] (occasionally ‘desunt’ [they are lacking]) opposite the relevant description. 39 coins, a little less than 10% of the total, are marked as missing in this way. The missing coins are often rarities (Diadumenian, Aquilia Severa, Aemilian or Flavius Victor), but many are also of common emperors (Tetricus II, Claudius II), and the gold coin remained present, as did many other rarer pieces (Sabina, Pertinax, Julia Soaemias, Jovian, Eugenius). This suggests petty pilfering or carelessness, rather than systematic and informed theft.
As MS 690 was superseded by Brent’s MS 691 in 1718, we can see that the erosion of such pieces continued steadily over the intervening 30 years, at an average of a little over one coin every year. As it is reasonable to suppose that much of the collection had been in Christ Church for some 70 years before Hannes’s catalogue, a proportionate amount might also have been lost earlier.'

(Burnett 2020b, pp. 1444-5)

RemarksRemarks regarding the annotation. (en)

On deposit at Ashmolean Museum, Heberden Coin Archive, Arch. Coll. 10. (en)


  1. ^  Burnett, A.M. (2017-2018), “‘The Roman Collection at Christ-Church’: early coin catalogues,” Christ Church Library Newsletter, 10/1-3, p. 9-18.
  2. ^  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.