About the Collection
As is the story with many American collectors, this collection evolved from an early interest in United States coinage. Repetitious designs and high costs drove me to explore other avenues, whereupon I discovered the coins of the Vatican, which led to an interest in earlier papal issues. This in turn led to the discovery of papal medals, which were soon the exclusive focus of my collecting endeavors. After acquiring a range of examples, it soon became apparent that the medals after the reign of Clement XII, in my opinion, were of declining quality, and thus a termination date of 1740 became self-enforced on the collection, with any later medals being dispersed.
Following a time of exclusive focus on early papal medals, it soon became obvious that I could no longer ignore the beauty and interest to be found in other Italian medals of the Renaissance and Baroque periods. With this expansion in focus, I have often debated if the time period that I collect could be compressed. Alas, from the medal of Sigismondo Malatesta by Matteo de' Pasti showing the Castel Sismondo to the medal of Cosimo Serristori by Massimiliano Soldani, and from the allegorical medal of Julius II by Caradosso for the new St. Peter's Basilica to the medal of Clement XII by Ottone Hamerani showing the new façade of the Lateran Basilica, there was no break in the time period that I could find satisfactory. The collection is now settled on spanning the entirety of the Renaissance and Baroque ages.
French medals, particularly from the first half of the seventeenth century, have also aroused my interest, and several have been dutifully added to the collection. While Netherlandish pieces also hold a charm, none of yet been acquired. German medals of the Renaissance are of interest mainly for their portraiture. Though well past the period covered by the rest of the collection, the occasional American medal also strikes a chord, and a few pieces have been added as adjuncts.
While I do endeavor to acquire pieces of good quality, certain concessions must be made based on availability and affordability. Throughout this site I have tended to avoid discussion of whether a certain piece is contemporary or later in manufacture, as I must admit to being solely an amateur. In some circumstances, where die states on struck medals do allow for some well founded opinions, a brief mention might be made. In any case, to me, the precise date of manufacture, while certainly of importance, does not detract from the artistry or history of a particular medal.
The name for this collection, the Virtus Collection, was born out of a need of a website domain name that was concise, yet broad enough to cover the collection's current and possible future acquisitions. Since the collection is focused on portrait medals, the virtue, or excellence, of a subject that would be portrayed by a medal seemed to be a fitting name.
It is my hope that visitors to this site will acquire an appreciation (if they do not already have one) for the fine art of miniature sculpture that is the medal. Often ignored by the art world and glossed over by numismatists, it sometimes feels that medals are one of the best hidden secrets in collecting.