The Collection of Short Cross Coins formed by the late Professor Jeffrey P. Mass

The Collection of Short Cross Coins formed by the late Professor Jeffrey P. Mass

Professor Jeffrey P Mass (1940 - 2001)

A native New Yorker, born on 29 June 1940, Jeffrey Mass entered Hamilton College, Clinton, New York in 1958. Enjoying life as an undergraduate, he was introduced to Japanese history by Professor Edwin Lee. He graduated in 1962 and, having been captivated by his studies, went to Japan where, while teaching English, he immersed himself in its language and culture. On returning to New York he undertook a graduate study in Japanese history at New York University before moving to Yale University, where he achieved a Ph.D. in 1973 under the tutelage of the late Professor John Hall, an acclaimed scholar always to be revered by Mass as his mentor. On achieving his doctorate Jeffrey Mass joined the faculty of Stanford University, where he attained a professorship in a record eight years. Entitled Yamoto lchihashi Professor of Japanese Culture and Civilisation, he received many academic awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship. He covered the period of the Shogunate and the early period of the Samurai, writing ten books based on impressive documentation, new views and interpretations. His works greatly added to the western understanding of early Japanese history and were hailed by his then academic peers. He became recognised as the leading and most productive scholar of his field in America, if not the whole of the Western World.

In parallel with his post at Stanford, Jeffrey Mass held an ongoing summer post at Oxford University, initially teaching at St Antony's College before moving to Hertford College. Hertford, as a result of his persuasiveness, was to host several B.A.N.S. weekend lecture courses. It was a delightful venue, close to the Ashmolean Museum and some of the finest taverns in the city, where extra-curricular numismatic debate was as much enjoyed as the fare provided. His last academic accolade came from Hertford: he was appointed an Honorary Fellow of the College shortly before his death on 30 March 2001, a rare and possibly unprecedented award to a foreigner. American he might have been, but he was also a pronounced Anglophile who thoroughly enjoyed his seasonal residence, his involvement with English numismatics and the friendships he had made in the course of it all.

Professor Mass had formed a small collection of American coins which he sold in early adult life. His interest was rekindled in the summer of 1984 (the year he was elected to the British Numismatic Society) when he had a brief dalliance with late Anglo-Saxon coins before turning to the Short Cross series because it spanned the period of Japanese history to which he had devoted his academic life. The series was to receive similar dedication. Eight years on he read and published his authoritative work on Class Ia, a great achievement. In his fifteen years of collecting he accumulated not the largest, but arguably the most comprehensive representation of the series. This was recognised by the decision to make his collection the subject of a volume in the Sylloge of Coins of the British Isles series, an acknowledgement of its importance. Like Jeffrey North before him, Jeffrey Mass undertook the authorship of his own collection.

His collection has been offered in four annual parts, of which this is the last. As in Parts I, II and Ill, sold on 17 March 2004, 16 March 2005 and 15 March 2006, an effort has been made to present a balanced representation of the collection in the hope that it will provide interest to the specialist and general collector alike. It also affords an opportunity for his friends to acquire mementoes. Professor Mass kept his coins in envelopes, on which he recorded their details. These, together with relevant tickets, are sold with the lots. Many of the coins have celebrated provenances, however, it should be mentioned that the majority of coins from the Elmore Jones collection have associated tickets written by john Brand but none in F.E.J.'s hand. Brand wrote many tickets for Baldwin's and it is presumed that Elmore Jones' tickets went missing when his collection was stolen. They do not, therefore, signify an earlier Brand provenance.

The catalogue is by sub-class, with mules listed under the later of the two classifications represented; within the constraints of the typeface, all legends are as shown on the coins. To avoid future confusion regarding this important collection, lot numbers are consecutive to those of Part Ill. Worthy of particular note is the class 1 a1 penny of Northampton, moneyer Walter, with cross pattee on crown (lot 1139), the class lllab2 penny of Exeter, moneyer Ricard (lot 1260), the type not having been represented by the late R.P.V. Brettell and, especially, the enigmatic and unique class 1 b1 cut halfpenny of an as yet unknown mint by the moneyer [-)vstin (lot 1213).

It will now be apparent that the Eaglen references for the coins of Bury St Edmunds in SCBI Mass do not conform to those in The Abbey and Mint of Bury St Edmunds, by Robin J. Eaglen (BNS Special Publication 5, 2006). This is because Professor Mass published five years previously from an early listing supplied by Dr Eaglen (the Eaglen references to Mass coins in this particular catalogue are, of course, correct). It is anticipated that all four catalogues of the Mass collection, together with lists of prices realised, will eventually be published as a complete volume in which this anomaly will be corrected. It will also be apparent that a few of the coins recorded in SCBI Mass have not been offered for sale: Professor Mass disposed of them privately before his death.

View the Lots in this Collection