The Boscoreale Hoard
The primary hoard was found in the afternoon of Saturday 6 April 1895 in Boscoreale, an aristocratic residential area north of Pompeii. This was a large discovery, consisting of over 1,350 Roman coins in a leather purse, some gold jewels, and over 100 items of silverware . The treasure was buried by the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79, and discovered during excavations on land owned by Vincenzo De Prisco MP in the torcularium of the “Villa della Pisanella”. The Canessa brothers (Cesare, Ercole and Amedeo) acquired the hoard and exported most of it to France: most coins were sold through Rollin & Feuardent (the Canessas brought some 100 coins from the hoard to New York in 1908, which indicates that they had not sold them all), and the majority of the silver pieces – over 30 kilograms – are now in the Louvre museum, having been purchased for 500,000 francs by Baron Edmond James de Rothschild (1845-1934) and donated in 1896. Two additional finds of 36 aurei were dispersed in Rome, and there were also 8 jewels set in gold that were acquired directly by the Louvre from Canessa. In a widely panned blunder, the director of the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples, who was offered the coins and artifacts due to Italian law which required the State be made an offer of first refusal, deemed the asking price too high, and declined to purchase the hoard. The State rarely had the funds to acquire important finds, and another case was a group of silver vases (Argenti Cacace) for which the government offered 20,000 Lire in 1896 and which Canessa acquired instead for 104,000 Lire. Many of the most worn coins of Augustus and Tiberius were melted, but a list of 1,082 coins by Cohen type was published by Canessa in Revue Numismatique (and recently studied by Campana), and coins from the Boscoreale hoard can often be identified thanks to their distinctive red toning (though, there are other hoards that bear similar, if often less dramatic, toning).
Bibilio.: Hadrien J. Rambach, Provenance Glossary of Coins in the George W. LaBorde Collection (published over three auctions in NAC 91, 99 and 105); Wikiwand (image)