Robert Carson: The British Museum's expert in unravelling mysteries of Imperial Rome's coinage (Obit.)

Historians in the News

Robert Carson, who has died aged 87, was keeper of the British Museum's department of coins and medals from 1978 until 1983, and the most widely admired and respected member of the international community of coin curators, scholars, collectors and dealers. An expert in Roman coinage, he was a stable force in the department during its postwar reconstruction.
Robert was even portrayed, under a pseudonym, in a numismatic roman à clef, The Coin Collectors (1997), by his friend and colleague the Belgian Pierre Bastien. "The chief curator was tall, with blond hair, and an angular face brightened by piercing eyes. His personality radiated kindness, tempered by a slight coolness, rather characteristic of the well-educated Englishman." It was an accurate description of Robert's appearance and his character, but not of his nationality.

Educated at Kirkcudbright academy, Robert was awarded a first in classics at Glasgow University during the first year of the second world war. Serving in north-west Europe, he rose to a captaincy in the Royal Artillery. Then, in 1947, he joined the British Museum's department of coins and medals. This continued his engagement with classics, and he learned Roman numismatics under the guidance of Harold Mattingly. In 1965 he was appointed deputy keeper.
During his first year at the museum he published his first two reports, on Roman coin hoards, in the Royal Numismatic Society's annual Numismatic Chronicle, and in the ensuing 55 years he wrote about 350 articles. His last, on Roman coin finds from Jordan, apppeared in 2001. Many of these were published in the Numismatic Chronicle, which he edited from 1964 until 1973.

A large part of his work was the processing and publishing of details of coin hoards from Roman Britain. ...
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