John Allan
Born8 August 1884
Bolton, East Lothian, Scotland
Died29 August 1955 (1955-08-30) (aged 71)
Alma materUniversity of Edinburgh and Leipzig University

John Allan, CB, FSA, FSA Scot, FBA (8 August 1884 – 29 August 1955) was a British numismatist and scholar of Sanskrit. Allan was a noted numismatist and produced the first systematic study of the coins the Gupta Empire, which remains a standard reference today.


Allan was born in Bolton, East Lothian. His father, John Gray Allan, was the local schoolmaster. After studying at the universities of Edinburgh and Leipzig, Allan took up a position at the British Museum in 1907, eventually becoming the Keeper of the Department of Coins and Medals in 1931. He was also a lecturer in Sanskrit at University College London, 1907–1917, then at the School of Oriental Studies, 1920–1922, and after his retirement from the British Museum, at the University of Edinburgh, 1949–1955.

Allan was an active member of many learned societies. He was Secretary of the Royal Numismatic Society for almost forty years, 1908–1948, and editor of its journal, the Numismatic Chronicle, for almost thirty years, 1921–1950. He was Vice-President of the Society of Antiquaries of London and of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.[1]


Allan was awarded the Medal of the Royal Numismatic Society in 1936,[2] the medal of the Numismatic Society of India in 1928 and again in 1937, and the Huntington Medal Award of the American Numismatic Society in 1949.[3][4]

He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1941, and was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath (C.B.) in the 1948 New Year Honours, and received the honorary degree of LL.D. from the University of Edinburgh in 1949.


Allan wrote numerous books, articles, reviews and notices, many of which were published in the British Museum Quarterly, History of the Berwickshire Naturalists' Club, the Journal of Hellenic Studies, the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, the Numismatic Chronicle and the Numismatic Supplement to the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal and the Museums Journal. He also contributed to the Encyclopaedia of Islam (1st edition), the Encyclopædia Britannica (14th edition), the Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics (1914), and the Chambers's Encyclopaedia (1950). The following is a selection of his publications:[5]


Articles on Asian coins and medals

Articles on European coins and medals

Other articles


  1. ^ Obituary in The Glasgow Herald, 29 August 1955, p. 10,6052851&hl=en
  2. ^ "The Society's Medal". The Royal Numismatic Society.
  3. ^ "American Numismatic Society | Archives / Huntington Winners". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 27 June 2016.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  4. ^ Obituary (by John Walker) in The Numismatic Chronicle and Journal of the Royal Numismatic Society, Sixth Series, Vol. 16 (1956), pp. 351-360.
  5. ^ For full bibliographies, see his Obituary in the Numismatic Chronicle (1956), and in the Proceedings of the British Academy (1956)