Category Archives: Exhibitions

An Area of Limited Inflation: The United States

Early Federal America In 1792, the young United States of America defined its standard unit of value as a dollar worth 24.057 g of pure silver. Theoretically convertible banknotes were issued by about 1,600 local state-chartered banks. Gold was only sporadically minted. Its unit of value was called the eagle, worth ten silver dollars. Usually, half eagle coins…
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Times of Hyperinflation

Hyperinflation Coins always had a degree of intrinsic value. With paper banknotes, this constraint disappeared. These virtually free-of-costs monetary signs that could bear any officially decided value led to the decoupling of intrinsic and nominal values. The temptation for many modern states to exploit this opportunity proved too great to be resisted. As a result,…
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Scattered Inflations

Italy The lira was the official currency of Italy from its unification in 1861 until 2002, when it was physically replaced by the euro banknotes and coins. The term itself, like the English word pound or the French word livre, had previously designated a unit of weight. It was defined as 4.5 g of pure silver and 0.290322…
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France: From the Franc to the Euro

From Napoleon to the Latin Monetary Union From 1803 until 1914, France kept a stable monetary system based on convertibility into gold and silver. That system led to the Latin Monetary Union in 1865, with France, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Greece. 20 franc (Napoleon I), 1813. Gold, 6.43 g. Genoa (ANS 1966.164.465, bequest of A.…
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France: Inflation and Revolution

Coins of the Revolution The French monetary system under the monarchy, like most of the European systems of that period and their Roman predecessor, distinguished both units of account and physical coins. As such, monetary reforms could simply modify the face value of existing coins without necessarily withdrawing them from circulation. Until the Revolution, the…
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Rome: A Thousand Years of Monetary History

From Republic to Empire Starting in the late 4th century B.C., the Roman Republic based a bronze (aesin Latin) coinage upon the weight standard of the Roman pound, which was about 323 metric grams. The heavy base unit, the as, initially weighed one Roman pound, while fractional coins were minted at proportional weights. The Roman monetary…
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The Matter of Inflation

Metallic Objects We are used to considering money as a stamped object, whether minted or printed, where often a number displayed on the object indicates its exchange value. This has not always been the case. Throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas, various metal objects assumed privileged roles as mediums of value and exchange based…
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Signs of Inflation

Detail: Zimbabwe--100,000,000,000,000 dollars. 2008. Banknote. ANS 2012.10.1 Gift of Frederic G. Withington and François Velde Inflation has been the "friend" of all major wars and crises throughout the 20th century, from 1920s Germany to the disintegration of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. But inflation does not belong only to modern history. It occurs whenever a medium…
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New Acquisitions 2012-2013

To coincide with the Society’s 156th Annual Meeting, the ANS curatorial and archives departments have prepared an exhibition of newly acquired materials, including those generously donated by members and fellows, as well as some purchased as part of the ongoing effort to fill gaps in the collection. Displayed under the classification Coins of the Holy Land are…
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New Acquisitions 2011

From ancient Greek and Roman, Islamic and South Asian coinages, to rare and valuable U.S. coins and contemporary artistis and industrial medals, ANS members and other generous donors continue to fill gaps in the ANS Collection with important new acquisitions. A new exhibition of ANS recent acquisitions will be on view in the gallery at…
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