Public Annual Meeting Report, October 24, 2015
Sydney F. Martin, President
The American Numismatic Society has seen another year in which the field of numismatics was greatly enhanced by our activities. The Society continues to grow and offer new resources while looking for ways on how to adapt our mission to the challenges of the 21st century. Over the last year, our staff has greatly improved the databases of our collections, library and archives, which are consulted yearly by over 250,000 people all over the world. Four new books appeared in our publishing program. In addition, this year the ANS Blog, Pocket Change, was introduced by Matthew Wittmann, Assistant Curator of American Coins and Currency. It has already become a favorite of our membership and others with an average of 500 visitors per week, and won the Numismatic Literary Guild’s 2015 award for best blog. , We have received over 6,000 coins and medals into our collection, including the Collection of our former Trustee and staff member, Richard Witschonke.
The Board of Trustees has launched two new fundraising initiatives, and we are very proud to announce that we are currently working to raise $4 million over the next few years to create the Chair of the Executive Director. Over $1 million were pledged from Trustees alone towards this campaign, and our unaudited financials show that $453,000 have been received in donations and form the basis of this new chair endowment. The Trustees appeal to all members of the Society to help raise the remainder of the money needed for this endowment. Secondly, we are most grateful to our Fellow, Dr. Howard Minners, for a further gift towards the Curatorial endowment for Medieval and early Modern European Coinage, which was matched by an anonymous donor. We will continue to increase this endowment, but I am pleased to report that even the small seed money in place now has already helped fund our part-time Research Scientist, David Yoon, who is curating the Medieval and Early Modern coins.
The Board of Trustees has also been considering for some time the mission of the Society in order to finalize a Strategic Plan for the Society. Here we are looking at the role that the Society has broadly defined for the last century as covering all forms of money and related objects ever produced ending with current coinages. Traditionally, the Society has focused on research, graduate programs and publications, and it is generally acknowledged that this is our main strength, whereas more traditional museum activities such as exhibitions are generally carried out by lending to other institutions. While our research and educational activities have been largely restricted to ancient and US coinages, our collections has grown massively - and continues to do so - to 800,000 coins and objects, perhaps even more, of which not even 600,000 are catalogued in our database and online. Only 110,000 of these objects are photographed, and unfortunately often objects in for example, the Islamic, Medieval or Chinese sections are very hard to find because of insufficient cataloguing data. Despite major efforts in cleaning up our data, our curatorial staff is missing expert curatorial help in key areas and has done so for decades. In addition, storage and general housekeeping costs are continuously rising, while we have less money for curatorial research and publications. To put it differently: while we are very proud of our amazing collections, we are concerned that over time we will have increasingly less money to make the holdings available to our members and the public. We are therefore reaching out to our membership and supporters to get ideas on what the Society's focus should be over the next decade or longer. You will be receiving more detailed information about the Trustees's discussion from our Chair of the Strategic Committee. We encourage everyone to participate in this important discussion of the future of our Society.
In closing, a short word about our Trustee Dr. Lawrence Adams, who passed away unexpectedly earlier this year. Larry, was almost 80 years old, still worked as a dermatologist in Los Angeles. He was a prominent collector of gold coins and medals. We very much miss Larry, who had been a steadfast supporter of the Society for many years.