Andrew Burnett’s History of Numismatics in Britain

Andrew Burnett, ‘The Hidden Treasures of this Happy Island.’ A History of Numismatics in Britain from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment. 3 volumes: volume I: pp. 602, 200 illustrations; volume II: pp. 628, 140 illustrations; volume III: pp. 640, 40 illustrations. 210 x 298mm. Hardback. Spink & Son Ltd, London. ISBN 0-901405-36-1. £150 (£95 to fellows of the RNS and members of the BNS.
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Andrew Burnett’s “The Hidden Treasures of this Happy Island – A History of Numismatics in Britain from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment” provides, for the first time, a comprehensive account of the collecting and study of coins in Britain from 1500 to 1750. Many new discoveries, such as the existence of a Tudor royal collection, have been made in the course of the research. In addition, important scholars and collectors have been identified, who are otherwise virtually unknown, such as James Cole, John Harrison, Simonds D’Ewes, John Marsham and Francis Sambrooke. The development of the early university collections, at Cambridge and Oxford is also described. Many unpublished documents have been identified, transcribed and, when in Latin, translated. Most are from the British and Bodleian Libraries, but many other manuscript sources have also been used, in the UK and abroad. The book is divided into 37 chapters, which are broadly chronological, with several thematic treatments interspersed. 73 appendices cover specific topics. Finally, there is a substantial ‘Register’, a catalogue raisonée of all the people who are known to have had an interest.

Andrew Burnett was Deputy Director of the British Museum from 2002 to 2013, having spent his previous career in the Department of Coins and Medals. He was appointed a CBE by the Queen in the New Year’s Honours of 2012, and he is a Fellow of the British Academy and of the Society of Antiquaries of London. He is past President of the Royal Numismatic Society, the Roman Society and the International Numismatic Commission. He has been awarded the Silver Medal of the Royal Numismatic Society, the Jeton de Vermeil of the French Numismatic Society and the Huntington Medal of the American Numismatic Society.


For more information about the book and to order, visit the Spink website.

Andrew Burnett is certainly one of the best experts on the island’s numismatic history, especially its ancient history. He co-authored RPC III.1, and if you have a look at this festschrift in his honour, you will see how many distinguished experts on ancient numismatics willingly contributed.