Report of David Hill, the Francis D. Campbell Librarian
October 29, 2016
I’d like to begin by looking at some of the researchers that have come in to use the library over the past year. As always, the summer seminar was a particularly busy time. Every year it’s a pleasure to work with these scholars, and it’s extremely rewarding to see our collections get such use. In fact, it’s usually fall before we get all of the books and journals and auction catalogs back onto the shelves. Of course, researchers come to use other kinds of materials, too, including our archival materials. Architect Lucrecia Benlliure came in to use records relating to her the great grandfather, a sculptor and medallist who contributed to the ANS’s international medallic exhibition of 1910.
ANS member Chris Becraft has several times come in from Arizona to work with the ANS photofile, a massive card index of pre-modern coins begun in 1915. The photofile is currently in several locations in this building, including partly in the basement.
And there are those who come from a lot further away. John and Glennis Cook of the Australian Numismatic Society came to use pamphlets and periodicals from their organization that were unavailable to them at home.
We continue to welcome these visitors, but I am also pleased to report on the great progress we have made on a project bringing the materials of the ANS library to scholars and other users around the world. A year ago, a scanning operation was set up at the ANS as part of the Newman Numismatic Portal, with the aim of putting a significant portion of the library’s holdings in U.S. numismatics online. The project is fully funded by the Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society and administered through Washington University in St. Louis.
So far, the library’s U. S. auction catalogs have been the main priority, though books and archival materials are beginning to appear online too. The Society began collecting auction catalogs in its very first years and early on claimed to have the most complete set in existence. The collection has been used to produce several reference works on the topic, notably a two-volume book by John Adams that was first published in 1982. I’m pleased to report that there are nearly three thousand of these catalogs now online, with more to come.
This is John Graffeo who operates the scanner. John is actually employed by Internet Archive, a non-profit provider of digital content that works in partnership with the Numismatic Portal. Nearly all of the three thousand or so catalogs have passed through my hands before they reach John, as it is my job to prepare the metadata, including the assigning of actual titles to replace the dates that had been used as titles in the past.
After John completes the scanning and makes all of the adjustments necessary, he uploads them to Internet Archive where they become immediately available online.
Most of the scanned ANS materials also appear on the Newman Numismatic Portal itself, which is separate from Internet Archive, though eventually all of it will be available there.
We are very excited about this project, but it’s not the only one involving auction catalogs that we’ve devoted our time to. In March the Society auctioned off ninety-three duplicate foreign auction catalogs through CNG, realizing a hammer total of nearly five thousand dollars. A great deal of work has now gone into the preparation for the next sale. Hundreds have been checked and packaged, and detailed listings of the catalogs have been compiled using a database format provided by CNG. After the addition of some condition information, they will be ready for sale.
Long-time library assistant Arnie Tescher, seen here helping to organize the auction catalogs, was employed a few hours during some weeks to work on the project. Arnie also continues to volunteer his time helping out with archival and other projects.
This includes the processing of a previously uncataloged collection of nineteenth century letters discovered buried under some materials on a shelf in the Rare Book Room. These had been sent to an obscure Coney Island dealer named George Mason and were written by such notable numismatic figures as Sage, Haseltine, Mickley, and Attinelli. I have already used some of the information contained in the letters for an upcoming ANS Magazine article on the Society’s auction catalogs.
Over the past year I made use of the library and archives for several other articles, including one on numismatic showman Farran Zerbe that featured some correspondence from the ANS archives documenting a disagreement between him and the Texas dealer Max Mehl.
The one hundredth anniversary of Anna Vaughn Hyatt’s statue of Joan of Arc provided the opportunity for another article. Vaughn also produced a Joan of Arc medal for the ANS and sculpted statues for Audubon Terrace, and was already a successful sculptor at the turn of the 20th century, years before she married ANS benefactor Archer Huntington in 1923. She lived until 1973, working well into her final years.
The Society’s collection of art medals relating Angelo Mariani and the popular wine he sold throughout the world in the late nineteenth century was the subject of another article.
It was also my pleasure to give a talk on the history of the ANS to the New Jersey Numismatic Society last month, and I was honored to be asked to contribute to a special issue of the Asylum on the future of numismatic literature.
The Library’s half-time cataloger, James Woodstock, and other assistants have added an average of over 100 items to the catalog each month. James also catalogs individual articles in books and in 27 regularly received magazines and journals. In addition to new materials, we regularly receive donations that we process, including this year from Institute for the Study of the Ancient World.
- Trto Rico
With all of this work, we were fortunate to have had the assistance of four library interns over the summer and fall to help us with cataloging and various projects, all donating their time to further the work of the Library while gaining experience with rare books, library cataloging, and the Library’s day-to-day operations. We would like to thank Tiffany Camusci,
And Antonia Peachin.
Finally, I want to thank everyone who has donated to the library this year. Your contributions are always greatly appreciated.
Return to FY2016 Annual Report