Portions of the collection are closed, including four letters from Walter Breen that were restricted by the donor until 2020 and certain files containing correspondence less than twenty-five years old.
Raymond H. Williamson correspondence, 1949-1996, Archives, American Numismatic Society.
Copyright restrictions may apply. Permission to publish or reproduce must be secured from the American Numismatic Society.
Raymond H. Williamson (1907-1997) was a collector primarily of U.S. large cents. He was born in Eagle Grove, Iowa, and earned degrees in electrical engineering from Iowa State (B.S., 1928) and Union College, Schenectady, New York (M.S., 1935). He worked for General Electric for 43 years before his retirement in 1972. He and his wife Hazel settled in Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1958, which is where he died. Williamson had an early interest in radio, operating an amateur station from 1921 to 1926. He managed a naval radio telegraph transmitter in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936 and 1939 and was chairman of the FM Broadcast Engineering Committee that set industry standards from 1942 to 1953. He began collecting coins in 1917 and published articles in The Numismatist, The Colonial Newsletter, Penny-Wise, The Virginia Numismatist, and other publications. Williamson became an associate member of the American Numismatic Society in 1949, a fellow in 1957, and chaired the Society’s U.S. coins committee in the 1950s. He was a member of the American Numismatic Association, Virginia Numismatic Association, and was charter member number 54 of the Early American Copper Society. He served on the U.S. Assay Commission in 1968.
Contains original and photocopied correspondence with Walter H. Breen, author of numerous numismatic works, including Proof Coins Struck by the United States Mint, 1817-1921 (1953), Walter Breen’s Encyclopedia of United States Half Cents (1984), and Walter Breen’s Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins (1988). Williamson’s early correspondence (1949-1953) with the young Breen document a time when Breen was conducting research for coin dealer Wayte Raymond at the National Archives and the U.S. Mint and working at the Smithsonian Institution with Stuart Mosher, editor of The Numismatist. Also during that period, Breen worked briefly at the coin auction firm Stack’s, was a student at Johns Hopkins University, and began publishing on early American coinage. The letters reveal a friendship built around shared numismatic research interests. Portions of some were published in Williamson’s article Early Breen, The Colonial Newsletter (vol. 35, no. 2 , July 1995, p. 1521-1530B). Later materials include a group of Williamson’s letters with Breen regarding research for publications and clippings of articles by and about Breen (1961-1969 and 1976-1978), published items relating to his death and legal troubles (1990s), and a phonograph record flexi disk from the F.C.I. Press Talking Book Series entitled The Care and Preservation of Rare Coins by Walter Breen (1977). Also includes correspondence with Eric P. Newman on matters pertaining to Williamson’s research on early American coins (1954, 1956), correspondence with James Spilman, editor of The Colonial Newsletter, regarding the publication of the article "Early Breen" and other articles (1980s, 1994-1995), clippings, a packet of materials presumably gathered for an article that includes diagrams of coining machinery, and routine American Numismatic Society correspondence (1980s and 1990s).