|Publisher||American Numismatic Society|
|Publication Date||August 22, 2016|
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Winner of the 2017 Numismatic Literary Guild: Best Book About World Coins Award
Handsomely bound in red leather, MS Typ 411 is one of thousands of rare editions, manuscripts, and documents in the Houghton Library’s Printing and Graphic Arts section at Harvard University. Resembling an old fashioned family Bible at 10 × 8 inches and some 300 pages, when opened this book reveals no text but a series of fine pen-and-ink drawings, 1,220 illustrations of ancient coins. These are the records of a coin collection owned by Andrea Loredan, a Venetian patrician well known in the 1550s and ‘60s as a passionate connoisseur of antiquities. Silver tetradrachms of Athens and Alexander the Great, aurei of Philip and Augustus, denarii of Caesar and his assassins, large Imperial sestertii of Nero and Hadrian, the numismatic images were intended to delight the eye, stir the curiosity, and enflame the acquisitive instincts of prospective buyers, at a time when the cash-strapped patrician was seeking to liquidate the ancient treasures of his private museum. The volume was, in essence, a sales catalogue, a species of book not often sought out and admired for artistic or literary merit. Yet Loredan and his unknown draftsman, unaware of how they were benefiting future scholars, produced a graphic masterpiece of elegance and charm, a document of the highest importance for the study of Renaissance antiquarianism, humanism, and archaeology.
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