History of Toulouse. More than 270 years ago, this notable was a collector of old coins

The notable of Toulouse Charles-Clément Martin-de-Saint-Amand, painted by Jean-Baptiste Despax. (©Jacques Rougé – City of Toulouse)

Elegant and smiling, Charles-Clement Martin de Saint-Amand handles a few coins from his medallion in this painting painted by Jean-Baptiste Despax. This notable, perpetual treasurer of the Academy of Sciences, Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres of Toulouse (appointed by Louis XV) and member of the royal painting, sculpture and architecture, is one of the most brilliant minds of the years 1750-1760.

He quickly integrates into circles

This native of Champagne – who was born in Chaumont-en-Bassigny (Haute-Marne) – appointed in Toulouse in 1742 as Receiver General of Tobacco, quickly joined the cenacles of learned societies in his new town and the region, to the point of becoming one of the most eminent antique dealers of his time.

Just over 4000 currencies

the Catalogus veterum numismatum quae collegit Carolus Clemens Martin de Saint-Amand – catalog that he draws up from 1747 – has a little more than 4,000 coins (called medals at the time). This appetite for this singular field, he probably owes it to the poet and playwright from Montalban (and future member of the French Academy) Jean-Jacques Lefranc de Pompignan. “In any case, it is from him that he buys his first coins” specifies Marie-Laure Le Brazidec, archaeologist and researcher-numismatist.

The treasure of Sainte-Suzanne and the wheels of Fa

Saint-Amand, on the lookout for new discoveries, was thrilled when, in 1752, the treasure of Sainte-Suzanne, near Foix (Ariege).

“It is estimated that there were between 40 and 60,000 pieces! The director of the currency of Toulouse, entrusts him with a batch of 30,000 for study. For three weeks, he examined them with his brother-in-law and spotted a few nuggets, including Antoninianus, Roman coins from the reign of Caracalla to that of Gallienus (between 211 and 268 AD). Then he acquires a large number of them. The pope, aware of this find, would have liked to buy them back from him. In vain “.

Marie-Laure Le BrazidecArchaeologist and researcher-numismatist

In addition to these pieces, our scholar acquired two bronze wheels dating from the end of the Bronze Age (implemented by craftsmen between the Xe and the VIIIe century before our era) found at Fa, near Limoux (Aude).

Their belonging to a religious or processional chariot (used for the cult of the sun) is altogether the most probable. On his death in 1763, the Academy bought his collection before it was confiscated during the Revolution. Restored in 1815, it was deposited in museum institutions: first in the museum of Toulouse (became Musée des Augustins) in 1847 then in Saint Raymond museumin 1892, where she still resides today.
His faithful friends erected a mausoleum in his homage in the church of La Dalbade.

Today, only a medallion preserved at the Augustins remains.

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Matthew Arnal

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History of Toulouse. More than 270 years ago, this notable was a collector of old coins

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