William Wake (1657-1737) was one of the major 18th century collectors of Classical and English coins. His aim was to gather a teaching collection for his Oxford College, Christ Church, to complement a growing corpus of academic volumes.
Wake’s set of Greek and Roman coins not only illuminates the purchases of the ecclesiastic antiquarian, but also gives an overview of classical coins and their iconography, from the Greek period, Republican and Imperial Rome, and finally shows the Roman Empire in crisis in the 3rd century.
His English coin collection ranged from William the Conqueror to George II. He assembled examples of rulers and denominations: in particular Charles I and his connection to Christ Church must have inspired the Archbishop. His acquisitions of the siege money of the English Civil Wars are extensive and a wide selection is presented in this exhibition.
The Ecclesiastic Antiquarian: Ancient and Modern Coins in the Collection of Archbishop Wake opened on 17 June 2014 with a talk by Dr Robin Lane Fox, Fellow of New College and Reader in Ancient History, University of Oxford. His books and articles include major works on Alexander the Great and the relation between the pagan and early Christian religions of the Roman Empire.
The exhibition was open briefly from between 17 June and 1 July 2014. It closed for the summer (while Alice Liddell's Drawings and Watercolours is up) The Ecclesiastic Antiquarian will re-open on 6 October 2014 until 6 January 2015. Visiting hours Monday - Friday: 9.30 am - 1.00 pm; 2.00 pm - 4.30 pm (provided there is a member of staff available in the Upper Library).
The Ecclesiastic Antiquarian is curated by Dr Claudia Wagner, Dr Thomas Mannack and Dr Cristina Neagu, with the collaboration of the Ashmolean Museum.