10 of 234 days: UPenn Nemi connection

The Cesano 1940 (lake?) Nemi coin catalogue has not yet arrived from ILL, but it’s less than 24 hours so I must be more patient, maybe I’ll get to blog about that in a day or two.

My poking around brought to my attention that the UPenn Museum also was a major purchaser of artifacts from the late 19th century excavations at the sanctuary of Diana

From Flickr

Their online catalogue suggests just shy of 50 objects. The main agent in the acquisition of Nemi material for UPenn seems to have been Mrs. Lucy Wharton (Joseph) Drexel in 1897. That she acquired? (paid for?) along with the ‘fine art’ this weight leads me to believe its is just possible she (or the university agent) might have also brought back coins, even ugly ones.

Catalogue entry (a shame the exact dimensions including mass aren’t recorded)

UPenn also has a pretty decent coin collection, more than 20k specimens when all periods are included, of which the vast majority are Roman. While I cannot say I looked at all their coins, it seemed pretty clear from entries that provenance before 1929 was typically not recorded. My suspicion is that if they got Nemi sanctuary coins they didn’t record them as such. Archival paperwork on the Nemi acquisitions in the museum might answer those questions, but even better would be to fine the Savile photos that Crawford mentions (see earlier post.)

A collection of photos donated by Lord Savile to the British Museum illustrates a number of pieces not otherwise attested, which have been included in the list below, and there may well have been more.

He also says:

A number of pieces were published by E. J. Haeberlin in his Aes Grave as forming part of his own collection and a number of others as having been part of the stock of the dealer X. Pasinati in 1895.

Given the excellent quality of Haeberlin’s images; it should be possible to establish where at least some of these coins from the Pasinati’s stock ended up. I’m making a right pest of myself at the BM as C&M doesn’t seem to have the photos and I am now banging round the other departments asking questions and favors.

Transitioning between projects is so hard. It’s weird. I was so eager to be done with Dionysius and to give my full attention to the coins, but yet finding the most productive steps is harder than anticipated. The habit of worrying about whether my work is good enough and whether I can actually do it is also hard to break. What if I collect all this data and it is all meaningless? I’m a wee bit under the weather (yes, the covid test is negative, and yes I’ll test again before going to NYC this weekend), and that has my mood down I suspect. We’re finally in double digits on the enumeration and yes without a doubt real progress has been made. The running discipline is good to help reassure myself of that.


  • First steps on Aes Grave project – collect relevant bibliography
  • More Italy visit logistics
  • More AAH logistics
  • Book flights
  • More BM communications
  • Schaefer follow up
  • follow up with Lafayette

Not Today (but maybe tomorrow, or the day after)

  • Teaching requests for Fall 2023
  • Circle back to department about any Jan planning meetings
  • Set time table for any collaborative RRDP work/publication prep that needs to happen this semester: Chicago pub, INC pub, collaboration with RACOM, etc…
  • Circle back to Capito project
  • Consider ask for funding from Dean’s office
  • Begin Med school rec letter
  • record mini myth
  • find out what is on that v old harddrive and back up to cloud
  • Write up Teaching Eval
  • Rosen Fellowship refs – Jan 16
  • Cancel at least one more digital membership
  • renew Coinarchives
  • Review grad student apps by Jan 19

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