ANS Record Group 8: Library, 1859-ongoing

Descriptive Summary

American Numismatic Society
22 cubic feet
Accession records, correspondence, and records documenting the development and maintenance of the ANS libraries collections.

PORTIONS OF THE FINDING AID ARE SUPPRESSED FROM PUBLIC VIEW. ANS staff can log into Staff View for the full record group description.

Administrative Information


Early records are open to all researchers. Some later records may be restricted.


Copyright restrictions may apply. Permission to publish or reproduce must be secured from the American Numismatic Society.

Historical Note

The roots of the ANS library can be traced to the appointment of James D. Foskett as the first librarian in 1858, the Society’s founding year, and to the acquisition of its first book the following year. ANS librarians since the Society’s founding: James D. Foskett (1858-1864); Edward Groh (1864-1865); F. Leathe (1865-1866); Daniel Parish Jr. (1866-1869); Isaac F. Wood (1869-1880); Richard H. Lawrence (1880-1886); Lyman Low (1886-1891); Bauman Belden (1892-1896); Herbert Valentine (1896-1905); Charles Dodd (1905); S. Whitney Dunscomb, Jr. (1905-1908); William R. Weeks (1908-1910); A.H. Cooper-Prichard (1911-1912); Alexander Savage (1913-1915); Sydney P. Noe (1915-1938); Sawyer McA. Mosser (1938-1947); H. Alan Steeves, Jr. (1947-1948); Richard Breaden (1948-1966); Geoffrey North (1966-1975); Frank Campbell (1975-2008); Elizabeth Hahn (2008- )

Related Material

See Record Group 5, Financial Records, Account Books series for additional materials relating to library funds.

Collection Hierarchy

  • Series: Library accession register books, 1859-1995

    1.75 cubic feet (11 bound items)
    Scope and Content:

    Consists of eleven library accession register log books. The amount of information varies, but they generally provide accession number, accession date, author, title, publisher, publication date, binding type, source of accession, cost, and remarks. These books were the official record of library accessions beginning in 1859, the year following the Society’s founding in 1858. Books 4 through 9 are American Library Association standard accession-books, produced by the Library Bureau, and contain detailed rules for accessioning and lists of abbreviations to be used. Two of the books (6 and 7) overlap in the years covered.

    Access Restriction:

    Books 1-9 (1859-1979) are open to researchers. Later books may be restricted.

    Related Entities

    Book 1: 1859-1898

    Book 2: 1898-1905

    Book 3: 1905-1911

    Book 4: 1911-1921

    Book 5: 1921-1947

    Book 6: 1948-1959

    Book 7: 1953-1959

    Book 8: 1959-1969

    Book 9: 1969-1978

    Book 10: 1978-1991

    Book 11: 1991-1995

  • Series: Early library correspondence, 1900-1918

    1 cubic foot (1 box)
    Scope and Content:

    Mostly correspondence relating to the development of ANS library collections through donation, exchange, and purchase. Appears to mostly begin around 1903. Covers the terms of the following librarians: Herbert Valentine (1896-1905), Charles Dodd (1905), S. S. Whitney Dunscomb (1905-1908), William R. Weeks (1908-1910), A.H. Cooper-Prichard (1911-1912), Alexander D. Savage (1913-1915), and Sydney P. Noe (1915-1938). Letters deal with periodical subscriptions, attempts to obtain specific titles, filling gaps in the collection, and fulfilling requests--sometimes through trade--for the American Journal of Numismatics (AJN), which the Society had around that time reacquired and was again responsible for publishing. Correspondents include book sellers, publishers of foreign numismatic journals, and producers of coin dealer catalogs. Items of interest include: a photograph and inquiry regarding what appears to be a belt buckle found on the banks of the Salt River sent from E.T. Carrico of Stithton, Kentucky (April 11, 1904 – folder 2); a letter from William Poillon to Joseph N.T. Levick (possibly misfiled) relating to a donation of medals which mentions Levick’s will (March 14, 1908); a letter regarding the Century Club directory from A.J. Bloor noting Charles Huntington’s work as architect on the Society’s building at Audubon Terrace (April 11, 1908 – folder 1); a request by Agnes Baldwin, later the Society’s first professional curator, for the purchase of publications, which was denied for lack of funds (April 15, 1908 – folder 1); a letter from H.A. Ramsden of Jun Kobayagawa Co. of Yokohama, Japan, regarding his collection of coins purchased “for almost a mere song” from “a rector” of a Peking university (March 7, 1911 – folder 2); a printed Christmas card from J. Sanford Saltus, Nice, France (1908 – folder 3); a letter from J.C. Wilson opining somewhat at length on the “disgraceful” administration of the American Numismatic Association, which was in the midst of a fractious internal fight (July 31, 1909 – folder 3); a copy of an outgoing letter from Cooper-Prichard introducing himself as the “new and first official [i.e., paid] librarian” of the ANS (March 4, 1911 – folder 1); a long letter from John Batchelor of Dartmouth College taking issue with Cooper-Prichard’s suggestion that it would be impossible to produce a general history of numismatics (May 16, 1911 – folder 2); a letter to the ANS council mentioning A.A. Weinman and suggesting an endowment for an annual prize for medallic sculpture (January 18, 1917 – “C”); and a copy of an outgoing letter thanking Weinman for his “casts of the models for the coins recently designed by you” (November 12, 1917 – “W”). The letters of 1911, dating from Cooper-Prichard’s term, also include general inquiries from the public regarding coins and coin values. Detailed reports about the status and activities of the library, and correspondence on matters such as the introduction of Library of Congress catalog cards into the library, can be found in the files “Mr. Field, Committee on the Library,” and the alphabetical “L” and “M” files. Some items dealing with library staffing such as inquiries regarding temporary help (“H”), a recommendation letter (“Hu”), and a library applicant (“T”) are also present. Also mentioned is ANS president and benefactor Archer Huntington’s desire, expressed to Karl W. Hiersemann, to publish a list of all numismatic books and periodicals ever published (1911 – “Hu”), and included is a ca. 38-page list of the books and periodicals contained in the library at the time (July 1910).

    Access Restriction:

    Open to all researchers.

    • Box 1 of 1

      • Library correspondence, 1900-1910 (4 folders)

      • Library correspondence, 1911 (3 folders)

      • Mr. Field—Committee on the Library, 1914-1917

      • Monthly reports, 1913-1916

      • Monthly reports of accessions, 1914-1917

      • Reports on book binding, 1913

      • Duplicate book account—Thomas L. Elder &c., 1916

      • Mr. Belden, 1915-1917

      • Data—Work on the library, 1915

      • Stechert & Co., 1917-1918

      • A-Z files, 1916-1918

  • Series: Sawyer McArthur Mosser librarian records, 1915-1952, bulk 1936-1947

    1 cubic foot (1 box)
    Scope and Content:

    Library records created or kept by Sawyer McArthur Mosser, American Numismatic Society Librarian from 1938 to 1947. Most relate to the development and maintenance of the collection. Includes lists of gaps in the collections, publications wanted, publications available from booksellers, and duplicates weeded and ready for sale; correspondence relating to the purchase and exchange of publications with various publishers; form letters and responses from various Latin American countries requesting publications; and invoices for binding payments. Also of note are two files labeled “Library data.” One predates Mosser’s time as Librarian and includes a typed guide detailing the layout of the library (1922) and general directions for binding and books sent to be bound (1915). The other contains accession and use statistics and numerous library reports (1938-1948). Other such data can be found in the file “Questionnaires,” containing surveys that were sent to various requesting libraries that used the data to produce directories and curriculums. Also included are several items in notebooks or binders: a Guide to the Library of the American Numismatic Society for users (including a floor plan); monthly accession lists (1946-1947); and a small binder with want lists, Reilly Fund accounting, and ANS publications. There are some items dating from the period just after Mosser’s term as librarian, including a financial and general report from his successor, H.A. Steeves (1947), and a file of correspondence that deals, among other things, with the proposed acquisition of the James B. Longacre papers.

    Access Restriction:

    Open to all researchers.

    • Box 1 of 1

      • Library shelving locations, n.d.

      • Lantern slides—Lists

      • Library data (Old), 1915-1922

      • Library data—Statistics, reports, etc., 1941-1948

      • Questionnaires—Sent to New York State Library and other outside organizations, 1934-1947

      • Book circulars, 1936-1946

      • Booksellers, 1938-1947

      • Various booklists, 1941

      • Booklists, 1940s

      • Want list, n.d.

      • Want lists—Sent out, 1942-1947

      • Book search—Includes lantern slide list, 1943-1947

      • Ives Search (books requested by Herbert Ives?), 1946

      • Periodical gaps, etc., 1931-1935

      • Latin American correspondence, 1942

      • Translations of book reviews, etc., n.d.

      • Exchange efforts, 1936-1941

      • Binder bills (Dups.)—MacDonald & Maier, 1930-1946

      • Duplicates for sale, n.d.

      • Duplicates for auction, 1942

      • Library finance report—H.A. Steeves, 1947

      • Miscellaneous, 1942-1944

      • Library correspondence, 1933-1940 (4 folders)

      • Library correspondence, 1947-1952

      • Guide to the Library of the ANS, n.d. (in folder with item below)

      • Binder with want lists, Reilly Fund, and ANS publications; and accession lists, 1946-1947 (in folder with item above)

      • Monthly accession lists, 1946-1947 (loose binder)

  • Series: Miscellaneous library records, 1899-1917, 1940-1957, 1988-2003

    0.5 cubic feet (1 box)
    Rare book room
    Scope and Content:

    Mostly bound notebooks used to record and organize work in the library such as binding, cataloging, and accessioning. Also includes a three-ring bound and typed “List of Books on Numismatics” (1912) possibly relating to a plan mentioned by Archer Huntington who desired a list of all numismatics works ever published (see Early Library Correspondence series), library reports (1948-1949), and a library visitors log (1988-2003).

    Access Restriction:

    All materials, except Library Visitors Log, 1988-2003, open to all researchers.

    • Box 1 of 1

      • Librarian’s binding record, 1899-1905 – includes lists of publications by society’s members, 1880s-1890s

      • Library serial record book, 1912-1916 – publications received and record of collation prior to binding

      • Lists of books on numismatics (starting ca. 1600), 1912

      • Daily journal of library activities, 1912-1915

      • Notebook of checklists of library activities, 1912-1917 – Collating and cataloging, crossed off

      • Library accession statistics, 1940-1957

      • Library reports, 1948-1949

      • Library visitors log, 1988-2003