Collecting ancient coins of the Classic Period was one of the greatest passions of Calouste Gulbenkian, especially those of Ancient Greece. Although his coin collection is not very extensive, the quality of the items it possesses makes it, without doubt, one of the world’s finest. The most valuable section of the collection is called “Jameson Collection”, which comprises three hundred silver coins in perfect condition. The artistic value of the coins was of paramount importance for Calouste Gulbenkian, considering it to be as or more significant than their own rarity.
Similar to what Calouste Gulbenkian had done, regarding other kinds of art objects of his art collection, he took advice from leading coin connoisseurs. One of his chief advisers was Sir Edward Robinson, who was responsible for the British Museum’s Department of Coins and Medals, between 1949 and 1952. In addition, throughout the years, Calouste Gulbenkian consolidated his coin knowledge by reading and collecting books on the subject.
One the one hand, not only does his personal library hold several museum catalogues of coin collections, namely several from the British Museum, it also contains catalogues of distinguished private collections, like the one published between 1913 and 1932, regarding the “Jameson Collection” that Calouste Gulbenkian acquired in 1947. One the other hand, it also contains coin auction catalogues which in the majority of cases, are full of written notes, including the price of the displayed items. One example is the Catalogue of the greek series of the Sotheby Wilkinson and Hodge’s London sale of the Montagu Collection of Coins, on March 1896, which illustrates some of the coins that later became part of Calouste Gulbenkian’s art collection. Thus, the significance of these documents lies not only in the way they allow verifying Calouste Gulbenkian’s interests and preferences, but most importantly, how they help perceive his own collection policy and strategy.
Catalogue de monnaies antiques grecques et romaines : contenant les collections de R. Burrage, Esq., de Boston, Mass. du Dr. J. S. de Vienne et d'autres amateurs étrangers... monnaies romaines / formée par Arthur J. Evans. - Genève : Ars Classica, 1934.
Catalogue of greek coins : Pontus, Paphlagonia, Bithynia, and the Kingdom of Bosporus / by Warwick Wroth ; edited by Reginald Stuart Poole ; [ed. lit. ] British Museum, Department of Coins and Medals. - London : Printed by order of the Trustees, 1889.
Catalogue of greek coins : the Seleucid kings of Syria / by Percy Gardner / [ed. lit.] British Museum. Department of Coins and Medals ; edited by Reginald Stuart Poole. - London : Printed by order of the trustees, 1878.
Catalogue of the greek coins of Mysia / by Warwick Wroth ; edited by Reginald Stuart Poole ; [ed. lit.] British Museum, Department of Coins and Medails. - London : Printed by order of the Trustees of the British Museum, 1892.