Coinage, the challenge of studying. Anniversaries of the numismatists Antonio Agustín, Joaquim Botet, and Josep Amorós

Coinage, the challenge of studying. Anniversaries of the numismatists Antonio Agustín, Joaquim Botet, and Josep Amorós

  • Case 1

The scientific and humanistic disciplines are organized, in large part, thanks to the efforts of scholars and their historiographic work. For this reason, it is justifiable to remember these people and to recall their contributions, taking advantage of the opportunity offered by their anniversary years. In this sense, we honor the archbishop Antonio Agustín (¿1517-Tarragona, 1586), whose 500th birthday we celebrate, and who was one of the humanist founders of numismatics as a discipline; the politician Joaquim Botet i Sisó (Girona, 1846-1917), of whom we commemorate the 100th anniversary of his death, whose valuable collection is preserved in this museum, and whose indispensable three volumes on Catalan coinage were published between 1908 and 1911; and finally, Professor Josep Vicenç Amorós i Barra (Valencia, 1887-Barcelona, 1970), of whom we celebrate the 130th anniversary of his birth -- and soon, the 50th of his death -- who was the first director of the Numismatic Cabinet of Catalunya, from 1932 to 1957. These three were, in their time, very influential numismatists well behind their own realms.

Antonio Agustín (1517-1586)  Antonio Agustín (1517-1586)

1. Antonio Agustí Albanell, Diálogos de medallas, inscripciones y otras antigüedades (Reprint: Madrid, 1744)
2. Anonymous. A medal dedicated to Antonio Agustín, end of the 18th century.
3. Joaquim Botet, in a photograph published upon the occasion of his death, in La Ilustració catalana: periódich desenal, artístich, literari i científich (Barcelona, 1917)
4. Joaquim Botet, Les Monedes catalanes: estudi i descripció de les monedes carolíngies, comtals, senyorials, reyals y locals propies de Catalunya (Barcelona, 1908-1911)
5. Josep Amorós, A notice regarding the Numismatic Cabinet of Catalunya and its museum (Barcelona, 1949)
6. Josep Amorós, in a photograph of the 1940s; the tools of his work alongside a local coin of Tarragona, ca. 1491, and its corresponding registration card.
7. J. Savall, A Medal dedicated to Josep Amorós upon the occasion of his retirement, 1957.

The earliest numismatists, in order to be able to study coins and share the knowledge they acquired, had to put together, and then share, the fine collections of coins which, in some cases, then permitted the opening of the first museums. What’s more, they had to invent methods of analysis and description for the coins they had collected. That is, they had to weigh, to measure, to describe, to classify and to catalog them into notes and records. This point marked an important juncture in the essential search for suitable methods of reproducing the coins, to facilitate understanding and dissemination of them as precisely as possible. This exhibit seeks to portray this difficulty and to reveal the intense process that became more than a state of mere description: of suitable drawings, for print, of the original pieces, and of the casts, in plaster or other materials, that permitted them to be sent to and exchanged among specialists and thus overcome the impossibility of direct observation of the coins.

Finally, we emphasize the dispersal of images included in printed books thanks to the evolution of various techniques of reproduction. These began with woodcuts, or engravings in wood, from the Medieval tradition; followed by copper-plate engraving, in the 17th and 18th centuries, and into the 19th century; the evolution of such techniques as lithography, invented in 1798; and, finally, arrived at the introduction of photography and its reproduction in the printed book. This process continues today with the evolution of integrated systems of documentation of the coins in the museum and beyond, with the numismatic forums of the internet, in which are collected digital photographs as well as 3-D reproductions. 

Josep Amorós (1887-1970)  Josep Amorós (1887-1970)

  • Case 2

Reproduction of actual coins

1. Impressions from rubbings, first half of the 20th century: a croat of Barcelona of  Alfonso II (1285-1291), and its rubbing.
2. Mold and plaster cast: a drachm of Barkeno, 3rd century BC, preserved in the Danish National Museum, Copenhagen.
3. A coin collection and its box: respectively, a collection of reproductions of hispanic coins and Classical Greece, late 19th-20th centuries.


4. Guillaume du Choul, Los Discursos de la religión, castramentaçion, assiento del campo, baños y exercicios de los antiquos romanos y griego/ del illustre Guillermo de Choul; traduzido en castellano por el maestro Balthasar Perez del Castillo (Lyon, 1579) Copper-plate engraving

5 and 6. Philip IV, 5 sous of Barcelona, 1641, and its reproduction and representation in the work of Josep Salat i Mora, Tratado de las monedas labradas en el Principado de Cataluña: con instrumentos justificativos (Barcelona, 1818)

  • Case 3

Lithographic reproductions

1. Prosper Mailliet, Atlas des Monnaies Obsidionales et de Nécessité (Bruselas, 1868)
2. Lithographic plate from the work directed by Juan de Dios de la Rada y Delgado, Museo Español de Antigüedades (Madrid, 1872-1880)
3 y 4. A peseta of Isabel II, 1837, and its representation in the work of Francesc Paradaltas i Pintó, Tratado de monedas: sistema monetario y proyectos para su reforma (Barcelona, 1847)


5. Agfa photographic camera, c. 1920 (col. Marta Mérida)
6 y 7. Medal of Tomás Francisco Prieto, dedicated to Joan Balansó, 1757, and its image in a glass-plate photograph, ca. 1930.

Joaquim Botet i Sisó (1846-1917)  Joaquim Botet i Sisó (1846-1917)


Idea and Direction: Albert Estrada-Rius, Chief Curator, Numismatic Cabinet of Catalunya
Documentation: Maria Clua Mercadal, Adjunct Curator, Numismatic Cabinet of Catalunya
Translation: Robert Hoge


La moneda, repte d'estudi