Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Numerous Patinas of Ancient Coins

Julia Maesa Sestertius, Blue-Green Patina


Caligula Sestertius, Tiber Patina


Plotina Sestertius, Emerald Patina


Volusian Antoninianus, Blue Patina


Hadrian Sestertius, Brown-Green Patina

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Domitian Sestertius, Pear Green Patina


Thessaly Drachm, Orange-Red Patina


Vitellius Aureus, Boscoreale Patina


Marcus Antonius and Cleopatra Denarius, Yellow Iridescent Patina

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Hadrian Dupondius, Chocolate Brown Patina


Brutus Denarius, Cabinet Tone Patina


Boiotian Stater, Find Patina


Faustina II AE As, Apple Green Patina



(Images Courtesy of

The Elgin Marbles: A Solution

The Elgin marbles sculptures from the 5th century BC were originally on the pediment of the Parthenon temple in Athens, Greece. These sculptures feature scenes from ancient mythology and are renowned for being the epitome of high classical Greek art. In the early 1800s Lord Elgin, a British ambassador, transported the marbles from Greece to London. The sculptures today remain in the British Museum. Elgin received permission to acquire the marbles from the Ottoman Empire who ruled Greece at the time. Once Greece retook control of their country, the debate over the statues began. One side of the argument believes the marbles should be returned to Greece while the other side asserts they should remain in London. From my research, most scholars believe the marbles should be returned.

“Unveiling the Right Side: A Conversation with Pheidias and Pericles about the Elgin Marbles and Other Matters” by Eleftherios Diamandis is an article in Clinical Chemistry that discusses several issues regarding the Elgin marbles. Diamandis takes a stance that supports the restitution of the sculptures. To persuade the reader the author uses a conversational approach while writing about his experiences in Athens. Diamandis outlines the background of the marbles as he discusses the “evil minds of destruction and greediness” that have gone hand-in-hand with the sculptures’ history. A position against Britain is clear as Diamandis alludes to the unfair purchase by stating Elgin, “paid a few pounds to the Turkish conquerors.” Diamandis also explains the impressive artistry of the marbles themselves as the statues “had taken them months and years to create.” Even though the author advocates returning the marbles, he does acknowledge the other side of the debate. Diamandis notes that if the marbles are actually returned, other countries with ancient artworks could feel threatened. In his conclusion, the author offers a proposal for the future, as he suggests that the United Nations should increase their role in such matters.

Another source that encourages the return of the Elgin marbles is William St. Clair’s Lord Elgin and the Marbles. In his book, St. Clair provides several reasons for his anti-British stance. At one point the author refers to the British Museum’s stewardship as a “cynical sham” and Elgin’s acquisition is described as a “shady deal.” Later St. Clair states that the marbles were acquired through “a mixture of threats and bribes.” Critics of St. Clair, such as I. Jenkins, argue that the accusation of “threats” is made without any true proof. St. Clair also acknowledges the other side of the argument. The author states that Elgin’s acquisition can be seen as a “rescue.” St. Clair concedes that by being located in London more people can view the artworks. He also adds that, unlike Greece, the British have the financial resources needed to store, protect and conserve the works. Similar to Diamandis, he asserts that other museums would feel threatened if the Elgin marbles were returned. St. Clair’s work is commendable as he provides background information that my other sources overlook. For example, the author notes Ittakis was one of the first Greek archaeologists to have an interest in reclaiming the marbles. Another less publicized item offered by St. Clair is that in the 1950s the marbles were used as political leverage during the Cyprus conflict.

While Diamandis and St. Clair are both against the British stance, Emily Goldsleger’s “Contemplating Contradiction: A Comparison of Art Restitution Policies” takes a more neutral position. The article published in The Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society outlines both sides of the debate. Goldsleger depicts one opinion as being “ethical,” whereas the other viewpoint is more “legal” based. One of her arguments is that Britain allows more people to be educated and can afford better preservation. Similar to the prior sources, Goldsleger does an admirable job of providing context for the debate. Besides just stating the facts, the author probes deeper. She reviews how the debate has changed little over the years. Additionally, Goldsleger notes the national and international legislation that is at the heart of the debate often contradicts each other. Next, the author analyzes the Elgin marbles issue by comparing it to the Nazi looting in WWII. Goldsleger notes how virtually all Nazi art is returned without difficulty. This is a stark contrast from the Elgin marbles. According to the author, this happens because there are records of the Nazi looting and Nazi art had a more traditional type of ownership. Another reason provided for the discrepancy is that Greece lacks the support of their allies since the Elgin acquisition was not a crime. The return of Nazi property was supported since the art was obtained through wartime crimes. The author also evaluates the recent chapters of the Parthenon debate. Goldsleger notes how the Greeks no longer use the terms “repatriation” or “return” but are rather aiming for “long-term loans.” At the end of the article, the author considers the implications the Parthenon debate imposes on art administrators.

Cross-border Restitution Claims of Art Looted in Armed Conflicts and Wars and Alternatives to Court Litigations is a book written by Renold Marc-André and several other authors. This piece is the most recent writing I referenced. The text focuses on a study conducted by the European Union and explains legal issues in great depth. The information is more academic in nature compared to my other sources and has a neutral in stance, similar to Goldsleger. Comparable to the other scholarly works this book begins with a historical outline. Next, legal claims of restitution are discussed while focusing particularly on items from “international law” to “soft law.” Following this, legal difficulties are explored as the authors review items such as “statues of limitations.” The text concludes with policy recommendations. While the authors offered useful information, I felt the discussion to be a bit convoluted in nature. Goldsleger was able to make several comparable points while being more succinct.

Goudchaux’s “Letter” featured in Apollo offers one of the few writings that takes a pro-British position. Although the content is relatively concise, Goudchaux provides several points that are omitted from my other sources. Initially the author attempts to make the Parthenon marbles less historically significant. He argues that although the Parthenon exists, the site is not actively used so it is hence not as an important part of Greek culture as Greece claims. Next, the author discusses how Elgin was the only person who wanted the sculptures, as other cultures did not even attempt to acquire them. Goudchaux further discredits the Greeks by describing how they destroyed ancient sites with their subway construction. His strongest argument is that in 1829 the Greek government, freed from the Ottomans, willingly gifted a Parthenon frieze to France’s Louvre.

Various scholars have deliberated the Elgin marbles issue extensively over the years. Most of the scholars in the debate are either pro-Greek and for restitution or take a neutral middle ground position that surveys the argument as a whole. There is a distinct lack of scholars siding with the British. There is a lack of pro-British scholarship because this stance has become taboo. It would make an academic look heartless if they sided with the powerful British rather than the struggling Greeks. Even though most academics support Greece, the marbles still firmly remain in the British Museum. It will be interesting to see if in the future scholars acknowledge this discrepancy and begin to take the less orthodox position by siding with the British. In the best interest of the art world, Britain should maintain their legal rights to the Elgins and develop an ongoing loan process that displays the Elgins in Greece and perhaps other countries.

To justly evaluate the ownership rights of the Elgin marbles, it’s important to understand the diverse historical elements contained in these sculptures. While the general public may be unfamiliar with the Elgin marbles, these works are widely recognized in academia due to their artistic, cultural and political significance. The marbles’ relevance is based on their original location on the Parthenon, a sacred ancient Greek temple in Athens. In about 425 BC, the famed Greek statesman Pericles organized the construction of the Parthenon as a temple for Athena, the patron goddess of Athens. The sculptor Phidias, commissioned to design the Parthenon, carved the friezes using the bas-relief technique, in which the sculpted figures are raised from the background. Additionally, Phidias carved the pediment sculptures “in the round” which means they are visible from all angles. Phidias’ fine craftsmanship is evident through details such as classical figures and drapery which appears like real fabric, although it is actually stone. The artistic style of the sculptures later influenced renaissance and baroque artists including Michelangelo Bernini, Rubens and Raphael. Design elements of the Parthenon have been a model for classical architecture and also inspired architecture for centuries. For example, the Parthenon’s impact can be found in today’s well-known structures such as the NYC Public Library and Lincoln Memorial. Additional importance of Phidias’s works is revealed as they illustrate Athens’ golden age of cultural and political achievements. The friezes contain a popular Athenian scene, the Panathenaic procession which was an annual event celebrating the god Athena. The procession represents the Athenians’ association with democracy as the lives of the gods and ordinary people appear on an equal level. In several respects the friezes are groundbreaking as they show the importance of common people, the idea of the individual and the first known practice of democracy. Undoubtedly the Elgin marbles are directly linked to ancient Greece, however the friezes have a worldwide appeal since ancient Greece contributed to the history of many civilized societies. A country, such as Britain, that maintains artifacts from ancient Greece may reasonably believe the relics’ global significance justifies the ownership outside of Greece.

Even though many non-Greek societies consider the Elgins as a symbol of their own civilizations, Greece maintains the marbles belong to their country of origin. The contention over the marbles is not surprising since it is reasonable for an entity, such as a society, business or nation, to desire the possession of items related to their history. Such a stance can be seen with artifacts other than the Elgin marbles. The Getty Villa’s “Victorious Youth” bronze statue from antiquity is a source of contention between the United States and Italy. Italy believes it to be theirs as the sculpture originated in Italy. Even the American movie industry successfully applies legal policies to maintain the purchase rights to their prestigious Oscar award. While some argue for a free market for all items, society has accepted measures that eliminate speculation on specific treasured items. To protect artifacts from leaving Italy, current Italian law states that an artifact discovered in Italy, even on private property, becomes government property. Italian law also limits ownership of ancient coins as the law dictates that a coin seller in Italy can only sell to someone located in Italy. In the United States the government does not restrict ownership but openly protects historic structures through strict regulations and codes. Though some entities had the foresight to legally protect their valued items, Greece has no legal basis to acquire the Elgin marbles. Britain, the legal owner of the Elgins, believes the British Museum’s Elgin display is relevant to their exhibit of antiquity and represents a civilization that had a global influence outside of Greece.

Artistic interests support the idea that it is best for the Elgins to be displayed in Greece, the location of origin. Athens, the intended setting for the marbles, will enhance the viewer’s visual experience and promote an appreciation for the Elgin’s style and importance. It is easy to understand the impact of viewing the friezes in the Acropolis Museum while gazing out to the actual ruins of the Parthenon. The Acropolis Museum was designed for the sole purpose of displaying ancient Greek artifacts. The proportions of the building follow ancient Greek scale and the simple, understated architecture focuses the viewer’s attention onto the displays. Another example of the environment’s impact on art involves Egyptian exhibits. When viewing Egyptian artifacts in close proximity to the ruins of massive pyramids, the historic and artistic experience is amplified. On the other hand, when the King Tut exhibits travels on loan to the United States the viewer’s experience will be relatively ordinary compared to the experience at the Egyptian homeland. An additional reason for a country to maintain their historical artifacts is more practical and is based on risks associated with transporting fragile ancient objects. Keeping the items in the original location is simply less likely to cause harm through damage or loss. However, since the Elgins are no longer in their home country, this argument actually supports the opinion for Elgins to remain in the Britain Museum. For the marbles damage is a particularly significant risk because the appendages of the figures appear to be quite fragile.

The art world’s response to the Elgin issues demonstrates Greece’s global influence as many historians have voiced support for Greece’s stance. Currently, Greece remains optimistic that the Elgins will be displayed in Athens’ Acropolis Museum. The museum’s website highlights the 30meter display of friezes that remains in Greek possession and notes that several museums outside of Greece exhibit smaller sections of the friezes. The website information also includes a cordial acknowledgement of the British Museum’s 50m Elgin exhibit. The Acropolis Museum, with its small display of original friezes, is a source of civic pride and Greece has not allowed the Elgin issues to distract from their respected hi-tech museum. Greece, in the true Olympic spirit, appears as the fierce competitor who is driven to win back the Elgins but can graciously acknowledge their opposition. In contrast, the British Museum’s online information regarding the Elgin marbles contains several articles defending Britain’s lawful possession of the friezes and implying the Greeks have not been open to negotiations. The British Museum’s post contains a subtle level of arrogance and lack of respect for Greece. Such a pompous attitude is likely a reason many academics have sided with Greece, even though the law supports British possession.
Although there are valid reasons to have artifacts remain in their region of origin, advantages exist when important items are located in several locations. It is beneficial to have the Elgins displayed in different museums as history has shown rare artifacts are at risk of damage or loss. Even though wars may not intentionally target works of art, there is a long track record of wartime rampage destroying cultural pieces. The Elgins and the Parthenon experienced most of their damage due to an explosion during the Ottoman’s reign. Additionally, during WWII Caravaggio’s “Saint Matthew and the Angel” was completely destroyed. Today, the art world has found an additional and new risk: terrorism. In the age of terrorism, locations representing cultural heritage are often primary targets. In 2015, there was a terrorist attack at an African museum in Tunis. Furthermore, disasters such as floods, fires and earthquake have resulted in the loss and damage of many historical relics. Recently, the fire at the Notre Dame in Paris was a reminder of the vulnerability of cultural treasures. The idea of strategically locating significant items to ensure they exist for future generations is not a new phenomenon. On a small scale, individuals can protect their most prized possessions in fireproof safes or bank vaults. For centuries, societies and historians have created time capsules to ensure cultural elements are shared with future generations and civilizations. Even today the world can see a time capsule at work. In northern Europe there is a so-called “doomsday vault.” In an isolated setting, this building has the goal of saving earth’s plants from disasters. This “doomsday vault” is a global effort and a similar concept should be taken for art. The art community should appreciate that the existence of the treasured marbles in different museums helps to ensure the artifacts survive for future generations.

The Elgin marbles, similar to other historic artifacts, require an environment that can provide the costly care needed for their preservation. Priority should be given to protecting the Elgins rather than locating the artifacts in their place of origin. Even though the modern Acropolis Museum could likely care for the Elgins, Greece’s history of economic and social turmoil leads to concern regarding Greece’s long term commitment to the Elgins. In contrast, the ability for Britain and the British Museum to preserve the Elgins is not questioned as they represent a world leader and stable well-funded institution. The Elgin display in the British Museum has received ongoing impressive care and the curatorial staff even discovered how the Elgins were originally dyed blue. Additionally, the British Museum with a location within a train ride to Europe, can share the Elgins with a large number of visitors. Travel to Greece is more complex and the country’s tourism levels do not come close to that of Britain. The British Museum’s ability to share the Elgin’s history with a vast audience also ensures continued funding for their preservation. Influential corporate sponsors and charitable foundations are proud to be associated with popular art exhibits that connect the global community. Samsung and BP are long-term sponsors of the British Museum, while the Acropolis Museum merely has the backing of the European Union and their own government. Currently the Acropolis website does not indicate any corporate sponsors. The future will determine if Greece can maintain the stability and economic prosperity needed to devote funds to preservation. In the meantime, Greece is fortunate that the British Museum provides exceptional care for the Elgins and their exhibits demonstrate respect for ancient Athens’ contributions to civilization.

The idea of loaning museum-worthy items has been particularly successful over the years. In the realm of art, the King Tut exhibit has traveled the world for decades. This exhibit allows individuals to see coveted artifacts that would otherwise be an expensive plane ride away. Such exhibits are so successful that it requires people to order tickets in advance. Besides the famous King Tut traveling display, there are also more minor works that have travelled the world. In 2019, for the first time, Pontormo’s “Visitation” has visited the United States at the Getty Museum. Much like the King Tut exhibit, “Visitation” allows people to view a legendary work with only the price of a modest parking fee. Even treasured items not within the arts have been successfully loaned in recent years. China has loaned pandas to zoos throughout the world. Otherwise inaccessible to many, China has been applauded for allowing other societies to care for their giant pandas.

There are many benefits to loaning the Elgin marbles. Firstly, such a loan would be a great public relations move for the countries involved. For the British perspective, they would no longer have to be defensive and appear as the aggressor that so many scholars depict them to be. Additionally, the British would be able to receive diverse and important items in exchange for the marbles. New and fresh items would appeal to the general public, as individuals could get bored of simply seeing the same items again and again. Some potential items the British can receive include Myron’s Discobolus or the Charioteer of Delphi. From the Greek perspective, loaning the marbles would finally allow the sculptures to return to their ancestral home. Trading some artifacts in exchange for the statues is a small price to pay considering the countless hours of legal deliberation that has transpired. The international community can also benefit from the loaning. The loans do not just need to be between Britain and Greece but can expand to other countries as well. For example, museums in the United States lack items from European antiquity and through an Elgin loan these museums could expand their classical exhibits. In exchange for the marbles, the United States can offer Space Age related items that would otherwise not be present in the British Museum. Even though moving the marbles would be quite a difficult task, there is precedent as Stanford’s Cantor Museum moved dozens of over life-sized bronze Rodin sculptures from Paris to California.

Many academics support Greece’s viewpoint and believe the Elgins should be returned to Greece. The issue is complex since the Elgins are important artifacts related to Greek history, but Britain is the legal owner of the Elgins. Since each country has reasons to maintain the artifacts, the best compromise solution is to share the Elgins through an international modified loan or trade process. When the loan process is implemented both sides should be satisfied with the outcome and one of the art world’s foremost debates will finally come to an end.

Works Cited

BuzzFeed News. “Second Man Arrested In Connection To Tunis Museum Attack.” BuzzFeed News, BuzzFeed News, 28 May 2015,

Diamandis, E. P. “Unveiling the Right Side: A Conversation with Pheidias and Pericles about the Elgin Marbles and Other Matters.” Clinical Chemistry, vol. 56, no. 6, 2010, pp. 1042–1044.

Goldsleger, Emily Winetz. “Contemplating Contradiction: A Comparison of Art Restitution Policies.” The Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society, vol. 35, no. 2, 2005, pp. 109–120.

Goudchaux, Guy Weill. “Letter: the opening in June of the Acropolis Museum in Athens has rekindled the quarrel over the Parthenon sculptures in the British Museum. Guy Weill Goudchaux—who is neither British nor Greek—invites us to consider some points.” Apollo, Sept. 2009, p. 18.

Jenkins, I. “The Elgin Marbles: Questions of Accuracy and Reliability.” International Journal of Cultural Property, vol. 10, no. 01, 2001.

Lazarus, Sarah. “High-Speed Climate Change Melts the Ground in This Arctic Town.” CNN, Cable News Network, 27 Mar. 2019,

“Parthenon Sculptures: Position of the British Museum Trustees.” British Museum,

Renold Marc-André, et al. Cross-Border Restitution Claims of Art Looted in Armed Conflicts and Wars and Alternatives to Court Litigations. European Parliament, 2016.

St. Clair, William. Lord Elgin and the Marbles. Oxford University Press, 2003.

“The Parthenon Gallery.” The Parthenon Gallery | Acropolis Museum,

Googie and Cold War Culture

Americans expressed their reaction to the Cold War era through a variety of architectural designs. While Russia’s austere cement structures depicted the defensive stance of rival nations, Californian architecture created space-age structures to show society’s interest in science and technology. Southern California in particular became known for the Googie style that was recognized mainly by its futuristic elements. For example, the LAX theme building, known for its flying saucer shape, even today remains a well-recognized Googie design.(Peregoy) While some reviewers considered Googie just cheap gaudy art, Googie reflected society’s concerns with the Space Race, arms buildup, civil rights and technology.

In 1952, Douglas Haskell, a prominent architectural writer, applied the term Googie to a whole segment of architecture that was reminiscent of the original Googie’s coffee shop. (Hess 61) Haskell observed that the futuristic style of Googie’s coffee shop became a popular design appearing in many California structures. Googie designs took on the spirit of the space age, as structures resembled flying saucers, rockets and starbursts. (Valerie) Another key aspect of Googie was the use of curved contours inspired by atomic science and amoebas. (Hess 50)(Ulaby) A feature that separated Googie from earlier styles was the use of previously unorthodox materials such as asbestos, cement, glass block, plastic and plywood. (Hess 62) While some reviewers looked down on the Googie style as too flamboyant, Googie was a design that Americans embraced. Southern California has several buildings that are renowned examples of the Cold War Googie architecture. Norm’s restaurants has pylon signs that resemble rockets and the Union 76 Station in Beverly Hills has a sleek undulating roof.(Peregoy) In 1955, Southern California’s Disneyland solidified America’s interest in the future through the opening of Tomorrowland, filled with Googie’s space age designs.(Hess 47)

Simply by viewing a Googie structure, Americans were inspired to embrace technology and contemplate the future. Technology experienced a rebirth during the Cold War era and focused on atomic energy, space travel and consumer products. (Hess 33) The arms race meant weapons of mass destruction were continually being updated and the Space Age fostered various scientific innovations. It is not surprising that Googie style was highly associated with Southern California, as this region already supported innovation through various industries that included television, aerospace and defense. (Gammon) Additionally, Southern California’s strong car culture was intrigued by Googie’s attention to automobiles. In the post-WWII years there was an explosion of automobiles and American consumers embraced advances in automobiles. (Rapaort 46) Cars became so prominent during this era that they were one reason the interstate highway system was established. (Rapaort 46) Googie focused on the automobile segment of society through structures that easily attracted drivers. Southern California in particular welcomed signage that could be viewed from cars and carwashes with futuristic starbursts. Googie had the opportunity to become an effective roadside advertiser, influence Ford’s “Mystere” and inspire the “tail fin.” (Hess 55, 57)

While technology was Googie’s most recognizable feature, Googie also addressed important social issues. Googie offered the ideal of equality that was becoming part of Cold War policies. Eventually the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 would end segregation in public areas including schools, restaurants and buses. (Yeager) Even though the Civil Rights Act required non-discrimination practices, there was still opposition. For example, Ollie’s BBQ in Birmingham was still a segregated establishment as the restaurant owners did not believe in federal interference. (Yeager) While racist practices dominated the South, the story was much different in Googie establishments. Located primarily in Southern California, Googie restaurants were far from the epicenter of racism. Googie restaurants were democratic in nature. All patrons read the same menu and no seat was better than another. (Nichols 6) Even though racism was minimal at Googie restaurants, they still primarily catered to whites due to their mostly suburban locations. In the 1950’s America began to experience “White Flight” and minorities were more centered in urban areas. (Semuels)

Googie’s association with equal opportunity was also demonstrated by the public access to their designs. In the post-WWII years, the arts were becoming an important luxury of society and the United States had “leadership in world as well as arts.” (Rapaport 25) A key difference between high-art and Googie was that Googie exposed many more to its style of architecture while high-art was selectively focused on elites. (Hess 51) (Semuels) The Googie style was democratized, as the futuristic exteriors were available for any passerby to experience, whether they were a minority or white, rich or poor. The distinctive large pylon signs and domed ceilings were located on major thoroughfares, not just upper class neighborhoods. When gazing at the sparkling glass windows at Pann’s Restaurant any individual could be inspired to dream of America’s bright future. (Peregoy) Even though more people had the opportunity to experience art through Googie than through traditional high-art, initially Googie was not a respected art form. (Nichols 13) (Hess 61) Googie was seen as over commercialized and gaudy. Hess even states that Googie had “advertising function central to its art” and Googie was “unashamed commercialism.” (Hess 25)

In addition to social issues, Googie style addressed the general mistrust that plagued the Cold War era. On the international scale there was much tension between the US and USSR rivals. Each side aimed to monitor the other and this was primarily evident in the proliferation of espionage. Average Americans experienced the mistrust of the times by watching the high profile Julius and Ethel Rosenberg trials and the shooting down of the U2 spy plane. Even McCarthyism added to the mistrust as the motivations of Hollywood titans were questioned on the national stage. Due to the times, average Americans wanted increased transparency. In the Googie establishment transparency was a key tenet. Innovations in molding glass allowed glass to be widely used on Googie restaurants. (Hess 56). The extensive use of windows allowed customers to view the interior of the restaurant from outside. The customers could experience the restaurant atmosphere even before entering. Additionally, “exhibition cooking” was implemented inside. (Hess 68) “Exhibition cooking” allowed the restaurant customers to watch their food get made. Even though the mood outside the restaurants was of mistrust, when visiting the Googie restaurants there was a breath of fresh air. Googie was not hiding any secrets. The same could not be said for the geopolitical events of the era.

Googie design provided an escape from the serious threats of war and doom that existed during the Cold War. Both sides of the Iron Curtain maintained immense nuclear arsenals and the threat of nuclear holocaust remained a very real possibility. Perhaps the height of such tensions was 1962’s Cuban missile crisis. Besides merely hearing about the weapons threats via the news, many Americans were profoundly impacted by the geopolitical events. School children had to partake in air raid drills and many adults opted to build bomb shelters. Due to the tense atmosphere of the times, Americans sought emotional outlets. One way Americans had an escape was through the Googie restaurants. Instead of worrying about a nuclear holocaust, average Americans could go to McDonald’s golden arches and enjoy an inexpensive hamburger. The idea of escaping the tense times even expanded to non-restaurant Googie establishments. Americans could visit Wayne McAllister’s Sands Hotel in Las Vegas. (Nichols 137) Even though the hotel represented leisure and not the tense times, the Sands featured a mural of an atomic blast that served as an eerie reminder of the larger era. (Nichols 144)

An even greater reminder of the tensions was the Brutalist structures that gained prominence during the early Cold War era. Brutalism was marked by the use of bland concrete and lacked the Googie’s biomorphic shapes. (Lebowitz) While the Googie embodied futurism, the Brutalist embodied bomb shelters or even the USSR’s bland apartment blocks. The Brutalist structures served as reminder that the world was not quiet as glamorous as Googie architecture would lead people to believe. The Brutalist establishments echoed the undercurrent of the times. Even though there was much progress during the Cold War era there were still problems such as the threat of nuclear war. While Googie was meant primarily for commercial ventures and later some homes, Brutalism included skyscrapers, banks, libraries and city halls. (Dunning) Googie was culturally represented in The Jetsons where as Brutalism was perhaps best portrayed in dystopian works such as the movie Blade Runner. (Meades)

While Googie coffee shops represented the consumerism of the Cold War era, Eichler homes represented a different facet of Cold War America. Eichlers emerged at a time when there was a mass exodus of army veterans. With items such as the GI Bill, these veterans strived to live the American Dream. Along with owning a car, veterans also wanted to own a house. Eichler tract homes, built in Northern California, Southern California and New York, were one way to satisfy the needs of post-WWII America. (Reggev) In California the futuristic home style appealed to a relatively hi-tech community that included aerospace engineers working on space and defense projects. (Gammon) Besides the low cost of building, the Eichlers were extremely popular due their innovative designs. Eichlers brought modernity to the masses and utilized an indoor-outdoor type living. (Park) Such traits of Eichlers were reminiscent of their contemporary commercial buildings, the Googie coffee shops. Eichlers followed the ideals of transparency, similar to the exhibition cooking. The open floor plans created one large area that contained the kitchen, dining room and living area. The homes were also admired for their connection to the outside that was created by expansive glass walls. Another important and unique aspect of Eichler homes was their socioeconomic openness. In an era of extreme racism and segregation, Joseph Eichler allowed his homes to be available to anyone. (Tanjuatco) This is significant because during the Cold War era there was “white flight” which was marked by Caucasians leaving the inner cities for the suburbs. (Semuels) Such racial openness of the Eichlers demonstrated that “white flight” was not necessarily a reality in the whole of the United States. It is refreshing to know that in an era of extreme prejudice there were beacons of hope such as Joseph Eichler. In a discussion of the civil rights era usually he is an overlooked figure.

While Googie style was mainly limited to Southern California, the rest of the United States and the world got a glimpse of Googie through The Jetsons TV show. Originally airing from 1962 to 1963 the Jetsons were a futuristic cartoon family. Their transportation was reminiscent of Ford’s Mystere and their buildings harkened to the famed Googie coffee shops. The Jetsons’ buildings were distinctly American and a sharp contrast to the buildings on the other side of the Iron Curtain. In Russia meanwhile, the Soviets lived in lifeless apartment blocks. (Meades) The Jetsons’ glamorous architecture represented the fruits of a democratic society. The show’s buildings had extensive use of modern glass, organic forms and indoor-outdoor living. Another important aspect of The Jetsons is that the show shared the Googie architecture with all ages. While coffee shops were mostly for older generations, the cartoon appealed to children. The Jetsons occurred in an era of technological optimism as the Space Age was just getting started. Such optimism was evident in the show as there were robotic servants and flying cars. Despite the progress shown in the series the future was still depicted with the minor inconveniences of actual everyday life, such as traffic and family issues. The Jetsons made no reference to Cold War threats even though the Cuban missile crisis occurred in October 1962.

The Jetsons was not the only entity that spread Googie beyond the bounds of Southern California. McDonalds’ Googie style structures expanded throughout the United States and eventually the world. The original McDonalds locations utilized signature Googie glass and the famed golden arches that were very similar to the distinctive Googie pylon signs. (Hess 100) McDonalds represented the consumerism of the times. Domestically, the United States prospered. Between 1945 and 1949 Americans purchased 21.4 million cars and 20 million refrigerators. (PBS) As suburbia spread, individuals strived to live the American Dream and many had an exposable income to spend. Going to McDonalds was an activity that appealed to the whole family. The innovative fast service catered to Americans with busy lives while Ronald McDonald and Happy Meals attracted children. McDonalds also reflected the Cold War’s fascination with technology. McDonalds was technologically advanced in the regard they revolutionized restaurant efficiency. For example, the McDonalds kitchens were designed for speed. (Hess 99) While the original Jetsons TV series ended after a couple of years, McDonalds would outlast the Cold War era. McDonalds demonstrated that in a capitalistic society, the most engaging companies succeed and prosper. McDonalds today operates across numerous continents and remains a symbol of America. Today, many McDonalds no longer use the traditional Googie glass, but the golden arch pylons have stood the test of time.

Eventually in the late 1960s Googie was phased out. The new era of buildings, in stark contrast to Googie, tried to blend in. (Hess 121) The post-Googie buildings also utilized different materials such as brick, wood shingles and mansard roofs. (Hess 121) For a brief time, even a Polynesian style emerged. (Hess 121) Along with the new forms of buildings came the destruction of the Googie establishments. Many of the Googie buildings fell victim to high property values and were razed for more economically efficient use. For example, of the original 1000 McDonalds restaurants, only 12 survived in 1984. (Hess 122) Although it is disheartening for the Googie buildings to be destroyed, such actions are indicative of the American capitalist society. Despite the trend of Googie destruction, there has been some effort to preserve the buildings. In 1984, the original McDonalds in Downey became eligible for the National Registration of Historic Places. (Hess 123) In more recent years, there has also been a movement to preserve the Cold War era Eichler tract homes in places such as Orange, California (Park). In fact there has been such a longing for Eichlers that new 21st century versions of them are being constructed in the San Francisco Bay Area. (Blitzer) Brutalist buildings with relatively nondescript gray facades have been much more timeless than the Googie’s space-like structures. As a result the Brutalists have better stood the test of time and have not been torn down to Googie’s extent. In the suburbs outside of New York City, there has even been an active movement to further preserve the Brutalist buildings as historical landmarks. (Hay)

In an era of modernity, Googie architecture depicts the historic elements of Cold War structures from the past. Today, the LAX theme building embodies the spirit of Googie style and its uniqueness attracts the passerby’s attention, no pylon signage needed. (Peregoy) Even though the structure no longer operates as a public restaurant, the building embodies how California embraced the Space Age, arms race and civil rights movement. Fortunately, several Googie coffee shops exist today and they can offer throwback moments to true Cold War experiences. When one sits at the open counter of a still existing Googie establishment it is easy to image the members of the Greatest Generation discussing the Cuban missile crisis or maybe even the Dodgers’ move to LA.

Works Cited

Blitzer, Carol. “Real Estate: The Rebirth of the Eichler.” Palo Alto Online, 15 Feb. 2013,

Ference, Audrey. “What Are Eichler Homes? Mid-Century Modern Architectural Gems, That’s What>.” Real Estate News and Advice |®,, 27 Feb. 2018,

Gammon, Katharine. “Trojans Help Launch New Era for Space Industry in Los Angeles.” USC News,

Hay, David. “Defending Brutalism | National Trust for Historic Preservation.” Defending Brutalism | National Trust for Historic Preservation, 1 Jan. 2013,

Hess, Alan. Googie: Fifties Coffee Shop Architecture. Chronicle, 1985.

Hess, Alan. Googie Redux: Ultramodern Roadside Architecture. Chronicle Books, 2004.

Lebowitz, Rachel. “10 Bold Icons of Brutalist Architecture.” Artsy, 5 Aug. 2016,

Meades, Jonathan. “The Incredible Hulks: Jonathan Meades’ A-Z of Brutalism.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 13 Feb. 2014,

Nichols, Chris. The Leisure Architecture of Wayne McAllister. Gibbs Smith, 2007.

Novak, Matt. “Googie: Architecture of the Space Age.”, Smithsonian Institution, 15 June 2012,

Park, Jeong. “Orange’s Eichler Tracts Designated as Historic District to Help Preserve the Homes’ Signature Style.” Orange County Register, Orange County Register, 30 Nov. 2018,

Peregoy, Beau. “5 Of the Best Googie Buildings in L.A.” Architectural Digest, Architectural Digest, 21 Dec. 2016,

Rapaport, Brooke Kamin., and Kevin L. Stayton. Vital Forms: American Art and Design in the Atomic Age, 1940-1960 ;Harry N. Abrams, 2001.

Reggev, Kate. “Homes by Joseph L. Eichler – What Are Eichlers and Why Do People Love Them?” Dwell, 28 Feb. 2019,

Semuels, Alana. “White Flight Lives on in American Cities.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 30 July 2015,

Tanjuatco, Leora. “They Like Eich.” Curbed, Curbed, 23 Sept. 2015,

“The Rise of American Consumerism.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service,

Ulaby, Neda. “Out Of This World: Designs Of The Space Age.” NPR, NPR, 14 July 2011,

Valerie J. Nelson, Los Angeles Times. “Eldon Davis Dies at 94; Architect Designed ‘Googie’ Coffee Shops.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 26 Apr. 2011,

Yeager, Andrew. “Forced To Seat Blacks, Ala. Restaurant Complied With History.” NPR, NPR, 13 Dec. 2014,

Intro to Ancient Coin Collecting

Coin collecting is a vast and intriguing hobby. For many areas of coin collecting, like American coins, the objective is rather simple as one can a procure a price guide, such as Whitman’s Red Book. For other areas, such as ancient coin collecting, however, the hobby is more complex as there is not a true price guide. (Yes, there is the Sear’s Roman Coins and Their values series and Seaby’s Roman Silver Coins, but these books do not include a majority of rarer types and varying conditions.) To make ancient coins collecting easier, I will outline a simple step-by-step method to aid new coin collectors.

The first key to building an ancient coin collection is assessing the rarity of a coin. For this, I will demonstrate with a denarius of Commodus whose attribution is RIC 259a. This coin of Commodus has his portrait on the obverse and a iconography-loaded scene on the reverse with the personification of Africa handing an ear of grain to Commodus, who is portrayed as Hercules. In the pre-internet world, the way to assess the rarity of the said coin was to look it up in The Roman Imperial coinage volume. Now, however, there is a simpler way. On, one can search “Commodus + RIC 259a” and find how many of this type have sold at auction. This coin has a little over a dozen results and is therefore quite rare.

The item of secondary importance in ancient coin collecting is assessing the condition of a coin. For ancient coins, the condition varies from worn flat to as struck state, or in more coin collecting terms “Good” to “Fleur de coin.” An easy way to grade condition is to examine the ear of a portrait. Ancient coins are concave in nature and the ear represents the highest point on the coin. If the ear is intact and not worn the coin is in high grade. If the ear is worn, the grade is diminished to at least “very fine” state. Another factor involving the condition is how the coin is struck. Unlike modern coins, ancient coins were not struck by a machine, but by hand and due to this, ancient coins are often off-centered.

New Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin

Two weeks ago, the U.S. Mint announced a new baseball-related commemorative coin. While this is hardly the first coin inspired by baseball, this coin is particularly significant as it will be the first curved American coin. Seeing how one side depicts a baseball, this is an apt time to debut the new curved technology.

While most modern coins are low-relief, in ancient times many of the coins were much more curved. Perhaps the best historic parallel to the new baseball coin is ancient Greece’s Aeginan tortoise denomination. The curved nature of the both the ancient tortoise coin and modern baseball coin provide a similar realistic dimension to the coins’ obverse iconography. Despite the similarity in the high-relief aspect which enhances the imagery, the two coins were made much differently. The ancient Greek example uses the so-called “incuse square” technique which originated in ancient Lydia. During this process, the “square side” of the coin is indented to allow metal from the planchet to be transferred from the reverse to the obverse, thus making the coin’s “tortoise side” high-relief. While the technology behind the new baseball coin is classified, the significant progress in numismatic technology over 2000+ years is evident as now the the baseball coin’s reverse does not have to be indented which previously made one side of the coin essentially devoid of a meaningful design. To capitalize on the reverse’s newfound space, the baseball coin will depict a low-relief, but non-incuse glove.

It will be intriguing to see if curved coins regain the prominence they had several thousand years ago. While there would be some problems surrounding the return of curved coins to circulation, such as an inability to use them in current vending machines, they would offer certain advantages. The most notable advantage would be that curved coins would be harder to counterfeit, much like the new British pound coin.

Major League Baseball and Sabermetrics

Advanced baseball statistical analysis is no longer the fringe field it used to be. Now, Major League Baseball’s flagship TV station has an entire show dedicated to sabermetics and the advanced statistic-centric website, Fangraphs, has emerged as an industry leader for baseball analysis. Sabermetric’s influence is now even present in general popular culture as legendary baseball statistician Bill James made a cameo appearance on The Simpsons and Moneyball was transformed into a blockbuster movie.

For a die-hard baseball fan, there is no doubt this advanced statistics phenomena has been a blessing to the sport as this mainstream emergence has coincided with sabermetric statistics becoming readily available to fans. Now, one can use the “Wins Above Replacement” statistic to effectively compare players of different historic eras. Before advanced statistics it would have been cumbersome to appropriately compare Deadball Era aces like Walter Johnson and Christy Matthewson to today’s premier pitchers such as Clayton Kershaw and Felix Hernandez. Using a traditional statistic like Earned Run Average is futile as there are too many variables such as changes in rules, ballpark dimensions, athlete conditioning that essentially altered the statistic’s magnitude for each era. With Wins Above Replacement, one can effectively minimize the impact of such variables and can truly see how effective a player was in the entire scope of baseball history.

While it is intriguing to casually compare players of different eras with sabermetric statistics, Wins Above Replacement should not be used as a primary statistic for determining Hall of Fame candidacy. Numerous articles for key media establishments, which have the potential to influence HOF voters, use Wins Above Replacement end-all statistic. Often times, pundits excessively diminish a player’s hall of fame chances if they do not reach an arbitrary Wins Above Replacement threshold. While it is convenient to sum up an entire career in one number, the immense shortcomings of Wins Above Replacement are too often overlooked.

One of the key issues with Wins Above Replacement is its failure to quantify the catcher’s critical role. The catcher is the most important defensive position as he is entrusted with task of calling each pitch. The difference between calling a change-up versus a fastball can potentially decide the outcome of the game. Besides calling each pitch, the catcher also has key tasks such as framing pitches and inhibiting the progress of baserunners. Unfortunately, these unique responsibilities are difficult to sabremetrically analyze due to the lack of hard data. While there has been some progress in analyzing the catcher’s impact of the game, this is still in its infancy and cannot be reliably implemented into the relatively mainstream Wins Above Replacement.

The even larger problem with Wins Above Replacement, however, is its total disregard for postseason play as the statistic is based solely on regular season games. (Yes, a postseason version of Wins Above Replacement does exist, but this is seldom cited due to small sample sizes and general volatility of the statistic.) The postseason is the most significant stretch and each postseason game carries exponential weight compared to a regular season game. Postseason heroics have singlehandedly defined players’ historic legacies. I’m not saying a player like Kirk Gibson, Aaron Boone, or one of the many other non-HOF caliber players with postseason glory should be headed to the Hall of Fame based on one moment alone, but to not count such immense achievements towards a player’s hall of fame candidacy is a disservice to the players and fans alike. Such monumental, game-changing moments are a key part of player’s career narrative that defines the “fame” aspect of the hall of fame and need to at least carry some weight.

Cooperstown is a place for baseball legends and the honor of being enshrined in the most renowned sports hall of fame is too complex to be funneled into the Wins Above Replacement statistic. There is no doubt that such sabermetric stats are eons better than the traditional counting stats and are actively improving. Even if statistics are perfected to the point where one can boil down a whole career into one number, it would still be the incorrect thing to do. Just as baseball is more than just a sport, but “America’s Pastime,” Cooperstown should be more than a barometer of sabermetric statistics. Intangibles and other notable contributions to the game of baseball need to be weighed as well. While within baseball Yogi Berra is known for being among the best at his position and his multiple world series rings, outside of baseball a non-fan may perhaps know him for his renowned quotes. Such contributions to the game and culture need to be considered even as statistics reach unprecedented levels. No, it is not time to put Bryce Harper in for “That’s a clown question, bro,” but if for some reason that quotation still holds the same weight in culture half a century from now as many of Yogi Berra’s witticisms do today, perhaps it should hold at least some merit.

Thoughts on the California Coin Hoard

Earlier this week, a discovery of a gold coin hoard in California made national news. While the coins’ $10 million appraisal value will undoubtedly make the finders wealthy, unfortunately, the hoard totaled only 1,411 coins so the finders will not have quite enough gold coins to pull a Scrooge McDuck.

Jokes aside, while such buried coin hoards are almost unheard of in the United States, in many other countries, they are semi-regular events. For instance, in the UK, coin hoards, mostly from ancient Rome and the medieval era, are well-publicized throughout media outlets.

After seeing the public and media fascination with this new California coin hoard, in addition to the coin hoards overseas, it would have been a travesty if this California find was not brought into the public conscious.

Unfortunately, this could have been a real possibility as in the United States there is not a system in place for finds of historic interest on private property. While there are a plethora of laws that regulate finds on public land, there is virtually nothing in place for finds on private property. Presently, if one finds historically intriguing item on their own property, the easiest avenue is to contact a local museum. If the item is deemed minor, or not a multimillion dollar coin hoard like this recent discovery, the odds of the item reaching the public conscious are slim.

In the UK, where finds on private property are a relatively normal occurrence, there is an intricate system in place which is spearheaded by the website, This website ensures finds, even minor ones, on private property do not go unnoticed. The website, fiscally backed the national government, has the purpose to “encourage the voluntary recording of archaeological objects found by members of the public.” Not only are objects recorded, but they are also published onto user-friendly maps and databases so anyone, not just museum employees, can readily view objects found in one’s own community.

While the United States does not have as many historic object discoveries as the UK, it would be worthwhile to create an American website of a similar nature for the sake of preserving our local and national history. The logistics of such a website would have to be a bit different as the United States is a much larger and geographically diverse nation compared to the UK. Another item that would need to be addressed is the lack of the Smithsonian having a true national presence in every American state as the British Museum has throughout the UK.

In order to solve these issues, the national organization in charge of the website would need to select local museums to be the authority on their surrounding area. Furthermore, a local historian from each auxiliary museum would be assigned to help verify and curate the local content uploaded to the national website.

While such a website would indubitably be a grand undertaking, there would be possibilities for the American website that the UK one does not have. First, the use of ZIP codes in the United States could provide a useful search function for objects. In addition, the United States has the added benefit of being home to Silicon Valley. Perhaps Google, who has already shown an interest in non-profit public interest maps for items such as deforestation, could use their extensive map database to help this groundbreaking initiative.