Group shot of a collection of coins from the Hoxne hoard, Britain

Department of Coins and Medals

Contact details

Phone: +44 (0)20 7323 8322

Department of Coins and Medals
The British Museum
Great Russell Street
London WC1B 3DG

The Department of Coins and Medals is home to one of the world's finest numismatic collections.

Spanning the history of coinage from its origins in the 7th century BC to the present day, it contains about 800,000 objects from around the world. As well as coins and medals, it also includes:

  • Related objects such as coin weights, tokens and money boxes.
  • The national collection of paper money, ranging from 14th-century Chinese banknotes to the euro.
  • An internationally renowned collection of commemorative and art medals from the Italian Renaissance to those made by contemporary artists working around the world today. 

Temporary exhibitions curated by the department are on a range of themes that allow us to highlight different parts of the collection.

Accessing the collection

Object identification

History of the collection

1753

Coins and medals have been part of the British Museum collection since its earliest days. More than 20,000 were included in Sir Hans Sloane's original collection.
About Sir Hans Sloane

1818–1823

Over the centuries, the collection has been enriched with many donations and purchases. Sarah Sophia Banks's collection of mainly contemporary material was presented by her sister-in-law Dorothea Banks in 1818. The magnificent collection of King George III was acquired from George IV in 1823.
About Sarah Sophia Banks

1860

The Museum's Department of Antiquities was divided up and a separate Department of Coins and Medals was created. The world-famous series of authoritative British Museum coin catalogues began to be published soon after. 

1992

The large hoard of Roman coins found at Hoxne in Suffolk in 1992 was acquired by the Museum, joining other celebrated treasures such as the Cuerdale hoard of 1840 and the Cunetio hoard of 1978.

2006–2017

Important acquisitions of the 21st century include a gold coin of Anarevito, a previously unknown Iron Age ruler in Kent; a unique coin of Coenwulf king of Mercia, one of only eight gold British coins known from the period AD 700–1250; and a gold medal created in 1897 by the influential British sculptor Alfred Gilbert.

2016–2019

A project supported by the Art Fund enables the department to collect material relating to the monetary and economic history of Communism. Acquisitions include posters, saving books, vouchers, medals and badges.

Staff

  • Richard Abdy – Curator of Iron Age and Roman Coins
  • Barrie Cook – Curator of Medieval and Early Modern Coins
  • Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis – Curator of Middle Eastern Coins
  • Amelia Dowler – Curator of Greek and Roman Provincial Coins
  • Henry Flynn – Project curator: Money and Medals Network 
  • Eleanor Ghey – Curator of Iron Age and Roman Coin Hoards
  • Thomas Hockenhull – Curator of Modern Money and Medals
  • Janet Larkin – Manager of the Enlightenment gallery (Room 1), Money gallery (Room 68), and Collecting the world gallery (Room 2).
  • Helen Wang – Curator of East Asian Money
  • Gareth Williams – Curator of Early Medieval Coins
     

The work of the department is supported by a team of Collection Managers and administrative staff.

Research

The Department of Coins and Medals is committed to furthering knowledge and conducting research into the field of numismatics:

  • Study facilities are offered to anyone wishing to examine the collections or the extensive library.
  • Curators teach all levels of students – from primary school to university groups – through the study room, galleries and externally.
  • Curators are involved in a wide range of research projects, some of which stem from our legal role in the Treasure system of England and Wales, and through collaboration with universities and other research bodies.
  • We communicate this research through publications, exhibitions, and educational events. 

Visit our Reading list to learn more about coins and medals through history.

Find out about some of our research projects below. 

Research projects

Outreach and training