Harold Mattingly

Harold Mattingly (1884 - 26 January 1964) was a British art historian and numismatist, who specialised in the history of Ancient Rome, especially Etruscan and Roman currency. His son, Harold B. Mattingly (1923-2015) was also a celebrated numismatist, and President of the Royal Numismatic Society 1999-2004.[1]


Harold Mattingly was born in Sudbury, Suffolk in 1884. He studied at Gonville and Caius College of the University of Cambridge. In 1910 he joined the Department of Printed Books of the British Museum.

In 1909 and 1914, showing his interest in Roman history, he published two books on the subject.

During the First World War, worked for the Postal Censorship Bureau. At the close of hostilities he returned to his work at the British Museum and his attention carried him towards the study of antique coins.

From 1912, Harold Mattingly was a member of the Royal Numismatic Society.[2]

He completely revised of the chronology used for the study of Roman coins. He was awarded the medal of the Royal Numismatic Society in 1941.[3]

He also translated Tacitus' works "Agricola" and "The Germania". These two translations were published together in 1948 by Penguin Books under the title "Tacitus on Britain and Germany".[4] 27,000 copies of this book were sold in that year.[5] It was reprinted in 1951, 1954,[6] 1960, 1962, 1964 and 1965.[7] The second edition, revised by S A Handford, was published in 1970 under the title "The Agricola and the Germania". The book was revised again in 2009 by J B Rives.[8] Mattingly's translation is considered one of the best and is still used (albeit in edited format) today.

He died on 26 January 1964 at the age of 79 in Chesham, Buckinghamshire.


  • Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum, 6 tomes, British Museum, London, 1923.
  • (with Edward Allen Sydenham), The Roman Imperial Coinage, 10 v., Spink, London, 1923-1994.
  • Roman Coins from the Earliest to the Fall of the Western Empire, Methuen & Co., London, 1928.
  • The Date of the Roman Denarius and Other Landmarks in Early Roman Coinage. H. Milford, London, 1933
  • Some New Studies of the Roman Republican Coinage. Proceedings of the British Academy : pp. 239–285, 1953.