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Coin Bank

Unknownabout 25 - 50

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum

A chubby, curly-haired, four or five year old girl sits on the ground begging, her right hand outstretched for a coin. She is not, however, portrayed as poverty stricken. Her tunic is elaborated with inlaid copper stripes, and incised zigzag ornament, presumably imitating embroidery, frames the neckline. The Romans inherited their interest in the realistic portrayal of both the appearance and activities of children from earlier Hellenistic art. The charms of this work as a piece of sculpture should not, however, mask its function, that of a coin bank. The girl's left hand pulls down the front of her tunic, emphasizing the coin slot cut in her chest.

Like today's piggy-banks, small coin banks were popular with the Romans. Many banks have been found in the graves of children and young women. These were cherished items taken into the afterlife. Banks were also given as New Year's gifts. Most Roman coin banks, however, were simple clay repositories, much less elaborate than this one in form and material.

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Details

  • Title: Coin Bank
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date: about 25 - 50
  • Location Created: Roman Empire
  • Physical Dimensions: 12.2 x 13.5 cm (4 13/16 x 5 5/16 in.)
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Bronze, copper inlay
  • Source Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California
  • Object Type: Female figure
  • Object Status: Permanent Collection
  • Number: 72.AC.99
  • Display Location: Currently on view at: Getty Villa, Gallery 207, Women and Children in Antiquity
  • Department: Antiquities
  • Culture: Roman
  • Classification: Sculpture

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