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University of Oxford

Beaumont Street




tel: +44 (0)1865 / 278058


email: roz.britton-strong @

The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology

Contact details: Roz Britton-Strong


Date of visit: 8 January 2012


Nature and extent of collection


209,100 pieces.


All numbers below are estimated


Greek coins: 18,500

Iron Age coins: 1,500

Roman coins: 68,500

British coins: 16,000

British tokens: 10,000

European coins: 12,000 Continental European coins

Asian coins: 40,000 (Indian subcontinent: 25,000, East Asia: 15,000)

Middle Eastern coins: 13,000 Islamic coins

African coins: 2,000

American coins: 2,000

Oceania: 500

Modern and paper money: 2,000 bank notes

Medals: 20,000

Paranumismatica: 100 (dies etc)

Other: Byzantine (including Axumite): 3,000

Reserve collections: Colleges, Bodleian, etc.


Specific strengths: Greek, Roman, Iron Age, Byzantine, Medieval, Islamic, Indian, and Chinese coinages.


Library: 1,300 books. Standard works required for working with Coin Room objects only; the main numismatic library is now housed in the Sackler Library.


Specific strengths:The content of both the Ashmolean Coin Study Library and the numismatic collection of the Sackler Library can be searched online under at



Database used: MuseumPlus


Proportion of collection on database? c. 5% in Museum collections management system; however, additional data are held in external databases some of which are available online


How much detail in database entries? Entries of varied quality


Are images incorporated? Yes, on around 50% of records.


Is the database accessible to the public? Yes, volunteers at the Ashmolean Museum Information Desk have access to MuseumPlus and can give information to visitors to the museum.  See also external databases below.


Is the database publicly accessible online? What is the URL if so?


Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum:  The SNG is a British Academy Research Project, the purpose of which is to publish illustrated catalogues of Greek coins in public and private collections in the British Isles. Volume V is devoted to the collection in the Ashmolean. While the output of the Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum project has traditionally been volumes of text and plates, in recent years digital recording of this material has begun to take place. Currently some 25,000 coins from the Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum volumes are online in the form of a searchable database. LINK


Roman Provincial Coinage Online: LINK 


The Oxford Celtic Coin Index: LINK


Sylloge of Coins of the British Isles: The Sylloge of Coins of the British Isles has been publishing coins in British museums and many important collections abroad since 1958. It is composed of 56 volumes that can now be searched online, with full descriptions and images of over 50,000 coins. This is the primary vehicle for the publication of the Ashmolean's British coinage. LINK





Are there permanent numismatic displays? Yes


Is numismatic material incorporated into more general displays? Yes. There are Coin Room objects in 25 out of 39 new Ashmolean galleries


Is there a facility for temporary exhibitions? Yes


Have there been numismatic exhibitions in the past? If so, what? Britannia, Oxfordshire Gold, The Olympic Games, English Gold.



Access to the collection

Is there a study facility? Yes


Is equipment (balances, magnifying glasses, etc.) provided? Yes



Public engagement with numismatic collection


Is there a handling collection? Yes


Are numismatic collections used in Education sessions? Yes


Do numismatic collections feature in gallery talks, lectures? Yes


Are there other engagement activities based around numismatic collections? Yes; every Saturday coin handling through volunteers



ID and public enquiries


Does the museum offer a service for identifying objects and other public enquiries? Yes, a drop-in identification service for coins and archaeological objects runs in the Ashmolean Museum on the first Wednesday of every month from 12 – 3pm. It is located in ‘Exploring the Past’ on the Lower Ground Floor.



Curatorial knowledge


Greek and Roman Provincial coins: Volker Heuchert

Roman coins: Chris Howgego

Islamic coins: Luke Treadwell

Medieval and Modern coins, medals: Julian Baker

South Asian and oriental coins, banknotes: Shailendra Bhandare


Is there access to external expertise? If so, who and in what areas? Oxford University (including Computing Services and Oxford Learning Institute)


If there is expertise in-house, is there a willingness/capacity to share that with other museums. Shailendra Bhandare is already sharing his expertise in Indian numismatics with the British Museum and has also done some work for the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge; the Ashmolean Museum is also supporting other museums as part of the Oxford ASPIRE initiative within the ACE framework.