|Barclay V. Head|
Barclay Head was one of the rare and happy men who seem to have been born to do a particular piece of work in the world, and to do it admirably. Most people will think of ancient numismatics as a small field of specialist study, almost the refuge of dilettantism. They will admire the exquisite productions of the mint of Cyzicus or Syracuse, and pass them by. But Head saw that coins are serious historical monuments, that they contain in a nutshell the whole history of the cities which issued them and that by an intensive and comparative study of the ancient history can be made real and living.
He entered the Department of Coins in the British Museum in 1864, and about 1870 was set by the Keeper of Coins, R. S. Poole, to work on the newly planned Catalog of Greek Coins, of which the first volume appeared in 1874 and the twenty-seventh in 1914. Every scientific specalist knows that compiling catalogues is the best of all training. The work of cataloguing thoroughly suited Head. He had unlimited patience, an excellent talent for comparison, a sense of style in art, and a great love of historic research. The preliminary work in preparing the Catalogue of the Coins of Sicily gave him that opportunity. The beauty of Sicilian coins, and their value to Greek mythology, had long be recognized; but no one had yet worked out their value has historic documents on the political and commercial history of the island. Brandis and Mommsen had seen the lacuna, but their pupils had as yet done little to fill it.
Head’s paper on the Coinage of Syracuse, published in 1874, was but 80 pages long, but it revealed a true historic method applied for the first time to the whole coinage of an ancient city. Its value was immediately recognized abroad; the French Acadamy crowned it, and the University of Heidelberg bestowed a Doctorate on the writer. From this time Head’s task lay clear before him: to treat other series of Greek coins by the same method which had been successful in the case of Syracuse, and so by degrees to make numismatics not a morass, but a cultivated field with paths in all directions. Hence came the great Historia Numorum, published by the Oxford University Press in 1887, of which a new edition came out in 1911. It has enjoyed the honour of being translated into modern Greek, and has become a valuable book to all who have worked upon Greek history. English historical writers generally find much of their material in German books; but in the matter of numismatics Head turned the tables. He won the rare distinction of being a corresponding member of the Academies both of France and Prussia. A Doctorate at Oxford came appropriately, though somewhat late.
What king of reputation he had acquired through Europe was best shown when he retired from the British Museum. A volume of numismatic papers then published in his honor contained contributions from almost all the authorities on ancient numismatics. Of the thirty contributors, ten wrote in German, five in French, one in Italian, and one in Greek. It was an oecumenical offering, and the day on which Sir John Evans, in the name of the subscribers, presented the first copy of the book to him was a fitting consummation of his career. The volume was entitled Corolla Numismatica. Barclay Head was keeper of the Department of coins and Medals from 1893 till 1906. He was also joint editor of The Numismatic Chronicle from 1869 to 1910.
In England there is not much endowment of research; but the British Museum serves, in fact, as a great institution for the purpose. The Musem never fostered a better example of research than Head. In character he was the typical student of the sort at his best: sweet-tempered, of infinite patience, perfectly free alike from self-assertion and from jealousy of his colleagues. He was always ready to retract on Monday a view published on Saturday, if good cause were shown. He always weighed in even balance his own published opinions and those of others; yet his mind was so well poised and cautious that he seldom had to retract. More than a specialist he was not; probably he never published a line on any subject but numismatics; yet so blameless a career, and a success within its own limits so complete, can seldom have been exhibited in any country.
From this list we exclude the reviews, signed or unsigned, of numismatic works which Head contributed to the Numismatic Chronicle and other periodicals. The place of publication, where not otherwise stated, is London.
1867. Account of the Hoard of Anglo-Saxon Coins found at Chancton Farm, Sussex. Num. Chron.
1868. Anglo-Saxon Coins with Runic Legends.
1868. Notes on Ilion, numismatical and historical.
1870. Translation of Ernst Curtius "On the Religious Character of Greek Coins."
1871. On some rare Greek Coins recently acquired by the British Museum.
1872. British Museum: Guide to the Select Greek Coins exhibited in elecrotype in the Gold Ornament Room.
1873. British Museum Catalog, Italy (with R. S. Poole and P. Gardner).
1873. Greek autonomous Coins from the Cabinet of the late Mr. Edward Wigan.
1874. History of the Coinage of Syracuse.
1875. Metrological Notes on ancient electrum Coins. Num. Chron.
1876. British Museum Catalog, Sicily (with R. S. Poole and P. Gardner).
1876, 1877. Notes on a recent Find of Staters of Cyzicus and Lampsacus. Num. Chron.
1877. The Coinage of Lydia and Persia. (International Numismata Orientalia, pt. III.).
1877. Notes on Magistrates’ Names on Autonomous and Imperial Greek Coins. Num. Chron.
1877. British Museum Catalog, Thrace (with P. Gardner).
1878. Himyarite and other Arabian Imitations of Athenian Coins. Num. Chron.
1878. On an umpublished archaic Tetradrachm of Olynthus. Num. Chron.
1879. Note on a Find of Sicilian Copper Coins struck about the year 344 B.C. Num. Chron.
1879. British Museum Catalog, Macedonia.
1879. Origin and Transmission of some of the principal Ancient Systems of Weight. Journal of the Institute of Bankers.
1880. British Museum: Guide to the Select Greek and Roman Coins exhibited in electrotype. New edition.
1880. A Himyaritic Tetradracm and the Trésor de San'â. Num. Chron.
1880, 1881. History of the Coinage of Ephesus. Num. Chron.
1881. Chronological Sequence of the Coinage of Boeotia. Num. Chron.
1881. British Museum: Guide to the Principal Gold and Silver Coins of the Ancients from circ. 700 B.C. to 1 A.D. Second edition [This is the second edition of the Guide published under a different title in 1880; it appeared in six "issues," each containing the whole text but only a portion of the 70 plates. Subsequent editions, some with only seven plates, appeared in 1883, 1886, 1889 ("third edition"), 1895 ("fourth edition")].
1882. The Coins of Ancient Spain. Num. Chron.
1883. Coinage of Alexander: an explaination. Num. Chron.
1883. Remarks on two Unique Coins of Aetna and Zancle. Num. Chron.
1884. British Museum Catalog, Central Greece.
1886. Greek and Roman Coins. In L. Jewitt’s "English Coins and Tokens."
1886. The Coins found at Naukratis. In W. M. F. Petrie’s Naukratis (Egypt Exploration Fund).
1886. Coins discovered on the site of Naukratis (reprint of the preceeding, with introductory remarks). Num. Chron.
1887. Electrum Coins and their Specific Gravity. Num. Chron.
1887. Historia Numorum, a Manual of Greek Numismatics. Oxford. (See also 1898 and 1911.)
1888. British Museum Catalogue, Attica, Megaris, Aegina.
1888. Germanicopolis and Philadelphia in Cilicia. Num. Chron.
1889. Notanda et Corrigenda. I. Ν or Μ on Athenian Coins. II. Two misread coins of Ephesus. III. Philadelphia Lydiae. IV. Lydian Gold Coinage. Num. Chron.
1889. British Museum Catalogue, Corinth and her Colonies.
1889. Apollo Hikesios. Journal of Hellenic Studies.
1891. Archaic Coins probably of Cyrene. Num. Chron.
1892. British Museum Catalog, Ionia.
1893. Coins recently attributed to Eretria. Num. Chron.
1893. The Initial Coinage of Athens. Num Chron.
1897. Britishn Museum Catalogue, Caria.
1898. Ιστρορια των Νομισματων ητοι Εγχειριδιον Ελληνικης Νομισματικης μεταφρασθεν .... και συμπληρωθεν υπο Ιωαννου Ν. Σβορωνου, 2 vols. and plates. Athens.
1901. British Museum: Guide to the Department of Coins and Medals in the British Museum (assisted by H. A. Grueber, W. Wroth, and E. J. Rapson).
1902. British Museum Catalogue, Lydia.
1906. British Museum Catalogue, Phrygia.
1906. The Earliest Graeco-Bactrian and Graeco-Indian Coins. Num. Chron.
1908. Ephesian Tesserae. Num. Chron.
1908. British Museum: Coins discovered in the British Museum Excavations at Ephesus. (The Archaic Artemisia.)
1911. Historia Numorum, a Manual of Greek Numismatics. New and enlarged edition. (Assisted by G. F. Hill, George Macdonald, and W. Wroth.) Oxford.
To these may be added :—
Corolla Numismatica: Numismatic Essays in honour of B. V. Head. Oxford, 1906.