Tuscan Hoard of 1778


BM 2010,5006.525 cf. 524 (Bulls) and 526 (Shield) all watercolors from the collection of Charles Townley.  All public domain images now.  Also I think because of the quality of the depiction of the edges of the specimens in these drawing it should be possible to determine into which collection these specimens passed.  As far as I can tell from an initial comparison, these are not held in the major CRRO museums or illustrated in Thompsen 1957 or Vecchi 1978.  (RRC 5/1, RRC 7/1, and RRC 12/1)

Letter from James Byres to Townley, 9th December 1778:
‘…the most uncommon purchase I have made is of four of the earliest Etruscan Ase, which I have long thought of mentioning to you, as I believe they are unique, at last I never heard of any but three that could at all compare with them. One of the Treasury of St. Genevieve at Paris and two, but much inferior belonging to the Marquis Oliviero del Abate, at Pesaro. They are of an oblong form, about six inches and a quarter long by about three inches and half broad, of different thicknesses, weighing from four to upwards of five pounds each. On one of them is on each side a Bull, good work. on another, on one side are two Dolphins and two Tridents. On the other side. Two Cocks, the other two. have shields represented on each side of them. all very good work. The great Ase at Paris. I’m told, weighs about three pounds. those of the Marquis Olivero are octagon and only weight about two pounds each, which makes me think that mine are of a prior date. they were found last Autumn in Tuscany, in the Foundry where they had been cast, for along with them I got some broken pieces of Ase and several unform’d lamps of Brass.They have occasion’d a good deal of Speculation amongst the curious. I have had proposals made me from Paris. Germany and from the Cardinal Zelada. To part with them, but choose they should be placed in England, and if not in the British Museum, in the hands of some person who knows their value; I esteem them at one hundred pounds. I have a few other Ase, which altho’ known, are rare, which I would throw in with them…’ (TY7/686)

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