Grierson, Philip 1910–2006
Grierson, Philip 1910–2006
OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born November 15, 1910, in Dublin, Ireland; died January 15, 2006. Historian, numismatist, educator, and author. A professor emeritus and former president of Gonville and Caius College, Grierson was a medieval historian who was most often recognized as an authority on medieval European and Byzantine coins. A 1936 graduate of Gonville and Caius, Cambridge, where he earned his M.A., he joined the staff there as a fellow in 1935. Over the years, he would serve in various positions at the college, including as librarian from 1944 to 1969, lecturer, reader, professor of numismatics from 1971 to 1978, president from 1966 to 1976, and honorary keeper of coins at the Fitzwilliam Museum. His interest in ancient coinage was inspired in 1945, when he was going through some of his father's collection and discovered a coin he did not recognize. Researching it, he learned that it came from the early seventh-century Roman Emperor Phocas. At the time, there were no relevant reference books about such coins, so Grierson set out to rectify the problem. He began collecting ancient coins himself, creating one of the best collections in the world of Byzantine, and later medieval European coins. He also began publishing works on the subject, including Numismatics and History (1951), Coins and Medals: A Select Bibliography (1954), and the five-volume Catalogue of the Byzantine Coins in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection and in the Whittemore Collection (1966–99). After accepting a post as advisor to the Byzantine Institute at Dumbarton Oaks at Harvard University, Grierson felt that keeping his own collection of Byzantine coins represented a conflict of interest. He therefore donated these to Dumbarton Oaks and focused on his medieval Europe collection, which were later also donated to the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge. Meanwhile, Grierson was widely appreciated for his work on numismatics. He was named a member of the British Academy, which named him the Sylloge of Coins of the British Isles, received honorary doctorates, and was presented with the Medal of the Royal Numismatic Society in 1958. His more recent work includes such publications as Byzantine Coins (1982) and The Coins of Medieval Europe (1990). At the time of his death, he was orchestrating a multi-scholar effort to publish a seventeen-volume work on medieval coins. Anticipated by his three-hundred-page book Monnaies du Moyen Age (1976), the project began in 1982, with work continuing after his death. A multilingual scholar who lectured around the world, Grierson was also a former president of the Royal Numismatic Society and former literary director of the Royal Historical Society.
OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:
Times (London, England), January 20, 2006, p. 68.