Classics and Archaeology Virtual Museum

Bairstow Coin Collection

In 1974-5 Mr J L Bairstow donated 171 coins (78 Greek, 1 Greek electrotype, 92 Roman) to the University. It seems that his gift was stimulated by the Exhibition of "The Classical Coin" mounted in 1974 by Peter Connor and Ron Ridley (see below).

In the coin catalogue the Bairstow coins are identified by the suffix "S" in the "Other no.".

Mr Bairstow is something of a mystery. The following documentation is all that has been found in the Department's files:

Letter 27/10/74 from J.L. Bairstow to Peter Connor:

Box 4808
Melbourne 3000
27/10/74

Dear Mr Connor,

Since the recent exhibition I have learned that you are seeking coins to add to the collection.

During 1963, 4, 5, 6 I acquired many coins in Turkey and had many identified at Athens Museum and since returning to Australia have had assistence from British Museum.

I have the B/M/C of Greek Coins.
1. Phrygia
2. Pontus, Paphlygonia, Bithynia.
3. Galatia, Cappodocia, Syria.

An order for Lycaonia, Isauria, Cilicia has failed to appear.

Most of my coins bear the sign of the town of mintage.

I submit to you 8 coins.

2 Augustus
1 Domitian
1 Trajan
3 Hadrian
1 Gordian III
8

If you will please make comments as to the suitability of these coins as an addition I will considering donating them to you.

Yours faithfully,

J L Bairstow.

Peter Connor had noted at the top of the page: "Returned 7.11.74. We might get them presented".

Note: The first seven of these coins correspond to R63-69, which have Bairstow envelopes in the same envelopes as the coins. They have accession numbers 1974.0052 to 1974.0058. R50 is the only coin of Gordian III in the R collection and has accession number 1974.0080, but it seems to have been purchased.

Letter dated 10/4/1975 from Bairstow to Professor Clarke

possibly in envelope from Melbourne Chess Club for an adjourned game to be resumed on Friday 8/11/74 (envelope contained 9 coins currently labelled B1-B9).

Box 4808, Melbourne 3000. 10/4/75.

Professor G W Clark
Department of Classical Studies

Dear Sir,

I received your letter of 9th Dec.
I now send you six coins of Roman series.
Now I am examining my coins filed according to the 29 volumes of the British Museum, and I send you three envelopes.

Yours sincerely

J L Bairstow

Foolscap page, dated 18th April 1975 from John William Burrows and Mrs Evelyn Burrows (adddress withheld)

Pisidia

10 envelopes

10 coins

Pisidia

10

11

Mysia

10

10

Lydia

10

11

Pamphylia

11

12

Mesoptania[sic]

5

5

Cilicia

3

3

Macedonia

3

3

 

62

65

Letter, same address, dated 12/5/75:

Dear Mr Connor,

When you have looked over the coins in the 139 envelopes please send a letter of acknowledgement to Mr J W and Mrs Evelyn Burrows of [address withheld]. Some of the coins will suit your purpose but many would be of little use. I am grateful to you for the trouble you have taken.

I leave tomorrow morning for Madras and probably will return in about 6 months.

J L(?) Bairstow.

Connor replied on 21 May 1975 to Burrows:

"You will know that Mr Bairstow intends the Classics Department to hold these coins in its care for the time being and to use them in teaching its students.

We are most grateful for this opoortunity of, temporarily, extending our collection, making it much more comprehensive."

Some of the envelopes containing the coins have notes that indicate that the collector had travelled in the Middle East and purchased coins there: e.g. "acquired at Antakya for 16 T[urkish] L[ira]" (B116). Others were purchased at auctions, the date of which is given on the envelope. Quite a few were sent off to the British Museum for identification, and sometimes there is a note on the inner envelope from the BM person (Dr Martin Jessop Price is mentioned quite a few times).

13 May 1998. In 1996, during photography, Peter Connor had pencilled R87-R90 on the envelopes temporarily labelled and photographed as C001-C006. The database has been modified accordingly, adding R85 and R86 for coins C0001 and C0002. These coins are patently Bairstow coins. The rest of the Bairstow coins have also been integrated into the G and R series, with advice from Christopher Haymes.

top of page