by Joe Ciccone, Robert Hoge, and Peter van Alfen
During its century and a half in existence, the American Numismatic Society has grown from a small New York City club of collectors with no permanent home into a leading numismatic center. With its world-class collection of objects, spectacular library resources, and its dynamic exhibition, education, and publication programs, the Society is unparalleled in its mission to be the preeminent national institution for the advancement of the study and appreciation of coins, medals, and related cultural objects as historical and artistic documents. Like any institution as long-lived as the ANS, the Society has witnessed significant changes, reformations, reorganizations, and, at times, upheavals, which if anything attest to its continuing vigor and relevance for each succeeding generation. As the following pages and the 150th anniversary roster also demonstrate, the creation of this organization, with its comprehensive collections and productivity, has been the work of many far-sighted and generous individuals, only a few of whose contributions can be recognized in this limited overview but all of whom are worthy of admiration by posterity.
As part of our sesquicentennial celebrations this year, join us as we look back over 150 years of ANS history and as we look forward to an equally successful future. For those interested in a more in-depth look at ANS history, we recommend the abridgments of Howard Adelson’s 1958 centennial history published in earlier issues of the ANS Magazine, now available on the Web (http://ansmagazine.com). Also currently in preparation is an updated volume on the history of the Society’s 150 years, which will be published within the coming year.
The Society is grateful to all the 150th Anniversary donors for their support.
The original print layout of “The ANS celebrates 150 years” as it appeared in the ANS Magazine can be downloaded in PDF format (20.1 MB).
Thanks to its enthusiastic young founders, Augustus B. Sage and Edward Groh foremost among them, the fledgling American Numismatic and Archaeological Society began quickly to develop its mission, identity, and collections, and by 1860 it had already obtained its first East and South Asian, Islamic, Latin American, modern world, and early American and United States coins and tokens—the latter its earliest area of emphasis. In the 1860s, serious scholarship commenced with the launching of the Society’s American Journal of Numismatics.
Augustus B. Sage (1842—1874), one of the founding members of the ANS, in whose home the first meeting of the Society was held.
United States. AR dollar, 1799/8, Philadelphia mint. Breen 5390; Bolender 1799.1 (ANS 1858.9.1, gift of R. J. Dodge) 39 mm. This dollar was among the first ANS acquisitions.
United States: Georgia. AV dollar (1842-1852), Augustus Bechtler private coinage, Rutherfordton mint. Breen 7764. (ANS 1864.40.1, gift of F. H. Norton) 16mm.
Invitation to the first meeting of the Society, dated March 8, 1858. The letter reads in part: “Dear Sir, An informal meeting will be held at the house of Aug. B. Sage, at 121 Essex St. for the purpose of taking the preliminary steps toward the organization of an Antiquarian Society in this city. You are earnestly equested to be present on the occasion.”
William Bramhall succeeded Augustus Sage as curator in January 1859 but was forced to resign from that position later in the year when the Society contemplated incorporating—all officers had to be adults and Bramhall was not yet of legal age.
Frank Norton served as president from 1865-1867 and was the main figure in the Society’s post-Civil War rebirth in 1865. During his presidency the ANS had numerous accomplishments, including the launch of the American Journal of Numismatics. He resigned in 1867 due to a dispute over its publication.
The first series of the American Journal of Numismatics was established in 1866. This was the Society’s first periodical, which continued until 1924.
Edward Groh (1837—1905) was one of the founding members of the Society and served as its curator from 1859 to 1879, and again from 1897 to 1905.
New Jersey. AE copper (penny, or cent), 1786, Rahway Mills mint. Maris 14-J. (ANS 1859.7.4, gift of M. S. Brown) 28 mm.
In the early 1870s, the Society nearly faced extinction. After a surge of interest and activity following the post–Civil War reorganization, interest in the Society had quieted considerably by 1870. For three years, the collections were boxed up and housed in private homes. Revival came in 1874, with the resumption of regular meetings and the adoption of a new membership medal. Before and after the “dormant” period, the Society’s cabinet continued to develop. Early dealer Edward Cogan donated four uncirculated cents from the recently discovered Georgia hoard handled by William H. Chapman and John Swan Randall. The Society’s own Medals Committee began adding its medals to the collection. George H. Lovett gave a souvenir token of General Custer’s Cavalry Division to the cabinet just a month before that wayward officer and his command were annihilated at the Battle of Little Big Horn.
Charles E. Anthon (1823-1883) was the first elected president of the Society, serving from 1868 to 1870 and again from 1873 until his death in 1883.
United States: New York. Cu “restrike” of “Excelsior” copper, 1787, by J. A. Bolen, of Springfield, Massachusetts (ca. 1860s). Breen 990; Bolen 12. (ANS 1870.1.1, gift of J. A. Bolen) 27 mm.
United States. AR member’s medal, ANS, 1868, by George Lovett. (ANS 0000.999.3350) 42 mm. When the Society reorganized following the Civil War, there was considerable interest in the idea of promulgating the Society’s identity through tokens of membership, which manifested in the ANS’s new membership medal.
United States. Cu cent, 1818, Philadelphia mint. Newcomb 10. (ANS 1870.2.1, gift of Edward Cogan) 29 mm.
United States. WM Abraham Lincoln memorial medal, 1866, by Emil Sigel, American Numismatic and Archaeological Society, New York. (ANS 1874.5.1, gift of the Society’s medal committee) 83 mm. This was the first of many specially commissioned ANS medals.
Still without a permanent home, the Society was nevertheless on firmer footing in its third decade. The reputation of the Society was growing in no small part due to its continuing efforts to commemorate significant current events in New York City and the United States with specially commissioned medals made available on a subscription basis. It was also during this period that the limited collections of the Society began to expand through the acquisition of important pieces, including significant purchases such as the U.S. Treasury’s 1879 metric set. Beginning in 1883 (and continuing nearly every year until 1914), Society President Daniel Parish Jr. made a series of unprecedented donations to the Society, becoming second only to Edward T. Newell as a presidential contributor to the cabinet. In 1880, the Society acquired the first specimens for its Greek department—though they were actually ancient Judaean coins.
Lyman Low became the ANS Librarian in 1886 and served in that position until 1891.
United States. AV, 1890 (ANS 0000.999.3366). 46 mm. Daniel Parish Jr. (1842-1914) joined the ANS in 1865 and served as Librarian from 1866 to 1870, and from 1883 until 1896 he served as President. To commemorate his many significant donations to the ANS, the Society commissioned this medal designed by Lea Ahlborn, one of the foremost medallic artists of the period.
The ANS has published annual reports of its activities in various forms since 1878. Today the annual report is published online.
Haiti: Faustin I. AE medal, by I. Bessaignet, 1852, Paris mint. (ANS 1880.1.1, gift of G. F. Ulex) 36 mm.
Charles Wright served as curator from 1880 through his death in 1896.
Rhodes: Knights of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, Master Helion de Villeneuve (1319-1346). AR grosso gigliato, earliest issue, Rhodes mint; found in the 1871 Temple of Artemis hoard, Ephesus. Schlumberger Pl. 9, 17 var. (ANS 1881.11.3, gift of J. Tuttle Wood) 28 mm.
United States. AV 4 dollars, proof pattern “Stella,” 1879, Philadelphia mint. Breen 6408; Judd 1635; Pollack 1832. (ANS 1882.1.2, purchase from the Treasury Department) 21 mm.
British Colonial America: George I. Brass 2 pence, 1723 Rosa Americana series, London mint. Breen 121; Nelson 15. (ANS 1886.1.2, gift of J. Evans) 31 mm.
Benjamin Betts was president from 1870 to 1873. His presidency was unremarkable, so his greater contributions really occurred during his tenure as Treasurer from 1874 to 1888, when the Society enjoyed its first period of financial stability.
Ever in search of a suitable home, the Society opened its fourth decade with a move from rented rooms at New York University to new rooms at 101 East 20th Street. Problems with the landlord prompted yet another move in 1892 to rooms at the Academy of Medicine Building at 17 West 43rd Street, where the Society remained until 1901. Lack of interest in the archaeology department lead to its closing in 1894 and the dropping of “Archaeological” from the Society’s name. In fact, the Society was already recognized as being at the forefront of numismatic scholarship, leading to an invitation to produce a numismatic exhibit for the 1892 Columbian Exposition. The impetus of publications such as the first volumes of the British Museum’s Catalogue of Greek Coins, the expanded second edition of Henri Cohen’s Déscription Historique on Roman imperial coins, and Ernest Babelon’s catalog of the coins of the Roman Republic was clearly reflected in the resulting growth of the cabinet in these areas. The collection of popular political tokens was also augmented around this time.
Andrew C. Zabriskie (1853-1916) served as the Society’s president from 1896 to 1904. Zabriskie amassed a large personal collection, the most significant of which were Lincoln medals and Polish coins and medals. In 1873, he wrote A Descriptive Catalogue of the Political and Memorial Medals Struck in Honor of Abraham Lincoln, which has since become the standard reference for those collecting Lincoln pieces.
United States: Colorado. AV 5 dollars, 1861, Clark, Gruber & Co. private coinage, Denver mint. Breen 7944. (ANS 1895.22.1, gift of Andrew C. Zabriskie) 22 mm.
United States: Florida. AE Conquest of Amelia Island medal, by Gregor MacGregor, 1817. Brown 857 (ANS 1893.19.1, gift of Daniel Parish Jr.) 33 mm.
Above: United States. AE medal by Tiffany & Co., 1893 (ANS 0000.999.3424). 77 mm. Below: United States. AE medal by Tiffany & Co., 1897. (ANS 1985.81.161, gift of Daniel Friedenberg) 62 mm. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the ANS took it upon itself to commemorate current events both in New York City and in the United States, including the celebrations commemorating four hundred years since Christopher Columbus’ “discovery” of America and the unveiling of Grant’s Tomb overlooking the Hudson River.
The beginning of the twentieth century was a good time for the Society, as one of its greatest benefactors, Archer Milton Huntington, heir to the Huntington transportation empire and an aficionado of all things Spanish, turned his attention to finding the Society a permanent home. In 1906, the Society moved temporarily into Huntington’s Hispanic Society at Audubon Terrace until the new neighboring ANS building was completed. From this era came a magnificent stream of gifts from the remarkable John Sanford Saltus who, like Daniel Parish, sought to develop the collection in many directions. Altogether, Saltus presented 865 gifts, ranging from single pieces to thousand-item sets. No less remarkable were Huntington’s donations at the time, including hundreds of Greek and Roman issues, Swedish plate money, and miscellaneous medals and tokens.
Archer M. Huntington (1870-1955) was the Society’s president from 1905 to 1910. His contributions to the ANS were numerous and substantial, including the donation of land and funds to build the Society’s first permanent home. The headquarters, which were located next to the Hispanic Society of America on Audubon Terrace, was completed in 1908. In the early 1920s, Huntington endowed the Society’s publications program with funding to establish the Numismatic Notes and Monographs series.
United States: Utah. AV 5 dollars, 1860, private coinage of the Deseret Assay Office, Salt Lake City mint. Breen 7936. (ANS 1906.99.70, gift of J. Sanford Saltus) 23 mm.
United States. Cu half cent, 1849, original proof, Philadelphia mint. Breen 1615; Gilbert 1849. (ANS 1906.99.43, gift of J. Sanford Saltus) 23 mm.
United States. Cu cent, 1793 “Strawberry leaf” variety, Philadelphia mint? (ANS 1906.99.52, gift of J. Sanford Saltus) 28 mm.
United States: California. AV 50 dollars, 1851, Augustus Humbert, U.S. Assay Office for Gold, San Francisco mint. (ANS 1906.198.1, gift of A.M. Huntington) 41
George Kunz served as corresponding secretary from 1898 to 1900 and was one of the Society’s representatives to the Exposition Universale in Paris in 1900. Given his position at Tiffany’s, he may have had a role with the production of some of the medals the ANS commissioned at the turn of the last century.
The Hispanic Society (l.) and the ANS (r.) on Audubon Terrace (c. 1908). Note that the original entrance was from 156th Street.
Home at last, the Society celebrated its fiftieth anniversary with the opening of its first permanent building in 1908, which in turn inaugurated a new era of growth, exhibitions, and publication. Before the outbreak of the First World War, the Society gained the services of its first professional and full-time staff, in the persons of the young Edward T. Newell, Agnes Baldwin, and Howland Wood. Wood had a great range of knowledge and interests; he studied and donated materials in widely varied fields. Newell purchased parts of Howland Wood’s collection so as to be able to donate them to the cabinet himself. Serious purchases from dealers such as Henry Chapman began to fill out areas of missing types. The greatest American paper money accession in the Society’s history came as an acquisition from Archer Huntington: 4,431 notes, including colonial and early American notes as well an outstanding collection of currency issued by the Confederacy during the American Civil War.
Agnes Baldwin Brett (1876—1955) was the Society’s first female curator, serving from 1910 through 1912. Between 1912 and 1914, the Society granted her permission to study abroad at the Cabinet des Médailles in Paris and to consult the private and museum collections of Europe. This research resulted in the publication of her first monograph, The Electrum Coinage of Lampsakos.
Russia: Peter I “the Great.” Cu Beard token, 1705, Moscow mint. (ANS 1914.265.55, gift of Edward T. Newell) 23 mm.
Edward T. Newell (1886-1941) was the Society’s longest-serving President (1916-1941) and perhaps the greatest numismatist of his generation, writing over thirty monographs. His massive personal collection, bequeathed to the Society in 1944, forms the core of the Greek and Roman collections.
The Society’s first permanent home at Audubon Terrace, a gift of Archer M. Huntington. The doors opened in 1908.
United States. AE commemorative medal by Victor D. Brenner for the ANS’s fiftieth anniversary, 1908, struck by Tiffany & Co. (ANS 0000.999.6744) 24 mm.
Honduras. AR 2 reales, 1823, Tegucigalpa provisional issue. (ANS 1915.12.1, gift of Howland Wood) 29 mm.
Howland Wood (1877-1938) was appointed Curator in 1913, remaining in this position for twenty-five years. During Wood’s tenure, the Society’s collections increased significantly, from 50,000 to almost 200,000 specimens.
United States. AR Huntington Award Medal, 1908 (unawarded), 65 mm. The Huntington Award is conferred annually in honor of Archer M. Huntington in recognition of outstanding career contributions to numismatic scholarship. The medal was designed in 1908 by Emil Fuchs to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the ANS. At Huntington’s request, his image does not appear on it. The first such award was given in 1918 to Edward T. Newell.
The temporary exhibit hall constructed for the Society’s important 1910 International Exhibition of Contemporary Medals. The catalogue was prepared by Agnes Baldwin Brett.
Following the end of the Great War and the return to civilian life for the Society’s staff and membership, the ANS continued to make a name for itself as a patron of the arts and respected national institution. Another large gift from Archer Huntington in 1920 endowed the publication of the Numismatic Notes and Monographs series, which continues to this day.
The 1920s witnessed a very successful expansion of the Society’s collection of rare American Indian Peace Medals, thanks largely to the consortium of Board members and other benefactors who pooled their resources in order to purchase important pieces as they came up at auction. The decade also saw the acquisition of the important Elliott Smith collection of items relating to slavery and its abolition. Dealers of the era were generous: the famous Wayte Raymond made many contributions, as did the Guttag brothers.
In 1919, the ANS commissioned a medal to present to the Prince of Wales on his visit to the United States. Here, at the presentation of the medal aboard the HMS Renown are (l. to r.) Edward T. Newell, the Prince of Wales, the prince’s equerry, John Flanagan (the sculptor of the medal), Dr. William Thompson, and H. Russell Drowne.
The Saltus Medal Award was initiated in 1913 by J. Sanford Saltus to reward sculptors “for distinguished achievement in the field of the art of the medal.” The silver medal was designed by A. A. Weinman, one of the finest American sculptors of the Beaux-Arts tradition and the second winner of the award. The first recipient was James E. Fraser in 1919. Ron Dutton received the award in 2008.
ANS benefactor J. Sanford Saltus (1853-1922).
Great Britain. AE emancipation medal, 1834, Birmingham mint. Brown 1666. (ANS 1928.25.13, gift of Elliott Smith) 45 mm.
Endowed by Archer M. Huntington, the Numismatic Notes and Monographs series began in 1920 and continues to this day.
British Colonial America: George III. AR Indian friendship “Happy while United” medal, 1766. Adams 4; cf. Betts 513; Fuld and Tayman 12. (ANS 1925.173.1, purchase as a gift of R. W. DeForest, James B. Ford and William Perkins) 60 mm.
Confederate States of America. AR half dollar, 1861, New Orleans mint (with obverse struck by captured federal die). Breen (ANS 1918.153.1, gift of J. Sanford Saltus) 31 mm. This is one of the treasures of the Society currently on view in the Society’s “Drachmas, Doubloons, and Dollars” exhibition.
The continuing growth of the Society’s library and numismatic collections was creating such housing problems by the late 1920s that a motion was made to construct an addition to the building that would double its size. Archer Huntington again underwrote most of this project. Material from the estates of a number of great collectors came to the Society during this epoch and several areas in the cabinet enjoyed dramatic increases. In appreciation for the handling, cataloguing, and disposing of its remainder, the New Jersey Historical Society gave to the ANS a portion of the major collection formed by mineralogist and mining engineer Edward R. Canfield. The Far Eastern collection of John Reilly Jr., long retained and utilized at the Society, was presented by his daughter Frances S. Reilly in 1937; it has given the ANS the foremost collection of traditional Chinese monies outside China. The estate of Herbert Scoville presented his marvelous collection of medieval and early modern coins of Italy.
Robert Robertson, Howland Wood, Farran Zerbe, and Edward T. Newell in front of the Society (1935).
Numismatic Studies was established in 1938 as a series featuring lengthy original studies where extended illustration is necessary or where large-flanned coins of considerable number are involved, requiring a larger format than originally used for the Numismatic Notes and Monographs series.
United States: Connecticut. Cu copper, 1787, New Haven mint? Miller 15; Breen 781. (ANS 1931.58.489, gift of the New Jersey Historical Society) 28 mm.
Italy: Ferrara, Alfonso d’Este. AV 2 zecchini (1505-1534), Ferrara mint. CNI 10, 443, 1. (ANS 1937.146.35, bequest of Herbert Scoville) 27 mm.
By the 1920s, the growth of the Society’s collections required additional space. Archer M. Huntington financed the construction of a new wing, which was built in 1929.
The Western Exhibition Room after remodeling (1930).
Japan. AE ebisu. 6 cash still attached to casting sprue, with figure (ANS 1937.179.13327, gift of Frances S. Reilly).
China, Han Dynasty (Jian He). AR ingot, 20 Tael (ANS 1937.179.19841, gift of Frances S. Reilly).
The Second World War set the tone for this decade, but despite the calamities and hardships imposed by the conflict, during this period the Society’s collections grew enormously. Unquestionably the foremost acquisition of this decade, and indeed probably the most important ever, was the bequest by President Edward T. Newell of nearly all (almost 90,000 items) of his phenomenal collection, following his untimely death in 1941. This great gift, and Newell’s own scholarship emanating from it, truly put the Society “on the map” as a major world-class institution for the study of classical coinages.
Another major acquisition was the permanent loan of the numismatic collections of the Hispanic Society of America (HSA), developed by Archer Huntington. These holdings (over 35,000 pieces), related to all regions and time periods elucidating the cultural history of Spain, her colonies, and the Iberian peninsula and Hispanic world in general, constitutes the foremost such collection in existence. To organize, study, and publish the HSA collection, the Society hired George C. Miles and initiated the Hispanic Numismatic Series a few years later (1950).
The leading Islamic numismatist of his generation, George C. Miles (1904-1975) served as Curator for Islamic Coins from 1946 and studied the extensive collection of coins Archer M. Huntington had donated to the Hispanic Society of America but that were housed at the Society. The results of Miles’ research on this collection were subsequently published in the Society’s Hispanic Numismatic Series.
British Colonial America: Massachusetts Bay Colony. AR sixpence, 1652, “NE” issue, Boston mint. Breen 9; Noe 1. (ANS 1946.89.5, gift of William Bradhurst Osgood Field) 20 mm.
In 1945, the Society established Museum Notes. In it, ANS curators published research conducted on topics related to the Society’s holdings and acquisitions, as well as original scholarship in the field of numismatics.
Spain: Ferdinand V and Isabella. AV 50 excelentes (ca. 1497-1504), Sevilla mint. Castan & Cayon 2489. (ANS 1001.57.2040, collection of the Hispanic Society of America) 66 mm.
United States. AE Joseph Pulitzer Medal for Journalism by Daniel Chester French (ANS 1940.100.2142, bequest of Robert J. Eidlitz) 71 mm. In 1940, the ANS received the Robert Eidlitz collection of nearly 5,400 medals, one of the most significant donations of medals in the Society’s history.
Arthur S. Dewing (1880-1971) received his PhD from Harvard University in 1905 and remained there until 1912, teaching philosophy and economics. After a brief sojourn in business, he returned to Harvard in 1919, where he remained until 1933, when he once again returned to the business world. During this latter period at Harvard, Dewing helped found the Harvard Business School and developed the case-study method used there. Dewing served as the Society’s president from 1947 to 1949, overseeing substantial reorganization.
Sydney P. Noe (1885-1969) joined the Society in 1915 as Librarian, where he reorganized the library’s collection and created its photofile. Noe remained librarian until 1938, when he succeeded Howland Wood as Curator. Noe also served the Society as Editor from 1921 to 1945.
Sicily: Syracuse. AR dekadrachm, ca. 400—390 BC, by Euainetos. SNG ANS 365; Gallatin O.IV-R.C.VII, 6. (ANS 1944.100.55823, bequest of Edward T. Newell) 34 mm.
United States. Cu cent, 1793, wreath series, Philadelphia mint. Breen 1640; Crosby 10-F; Sheldon NC-5 (unique). (ANS 1946.143.23, gift of George H. Clapp) 27 mm.
Among the most important activities undertaken by the Society in the 1950s was the establishment of the Summer Graduate Seminar, which remains the ANS’s most successful educational program. It was proposed in 1951 to establish a “summer workshop” for graduate students, in which students could familiarize themselves with a particular area of study, meet visiting scholars and, finally, develop a paper employing numismatics in their research. The first such seminar was offered in 1952, with thirteen students attending. Over fifty summers later, the Seminar continues, thanks in no small part to Eric P. Newman’s endowment.
The preparations for the Society’s centennial in 1958 included a major interior remodeling of the building brought on, in part, by the need to find additional space for the expanding collections. The jet-age design included the addition of new floors where high ceilings and skylights had once been.
Sadly, it was during this period—although this was not discovered until many years later—that the Society’s cabinet sustained its most critical loss. Famed U.S. large-cent expert William Sheldon evidently succeeded in switching dozens of the finest pieces out of the collection by substituting in their places other coins of identical varieties but slightly lesser states of preservation. To date, about two-thirds of these coins have been recovered; an ongoing effort seeks the remainder.
One of the Society’s finest gifts was the bequest of Past-President Herbert E. Ives, consisting of his medieval European gold collection. Another interesting addition to the cabinet was a group of representative Fugio coppers from the famous Bank of New York hoard.
Louis C. West (1882-1972) was the fifteenth president of the Society, serving from 1949 to 1959, while he also served in the Classics Department at Princeton University as a lecturer and in the Firestone Library as the University’s first Curator of Coins and Medals. He retained both positions until the 1960s.
In 1952, the Society launched its highly sucessful educational program, the Summer Graduate Seminar.
United States. Cu Fugio copper, 1787, New Haven mint. Breen 1307; Newman 11-B. (ANS 1949.136.10, gift of the Bank of New York and Bank of Fifth Avenue) 28 mm.
The four titles of the Hispanic Numismatic Series consists of publications devoted to the coinage of the Iberian Peninsula and of related countries and is based on the numismatic collection of the Hispanic Society of America. It was published jointly by the American Numismatic Society and the Hispanic Society between 1950 and 1954.
Henry Grunthal (1905-2001), seen here with Margaret Thompson, was Curator of European and Modern Coins from 1953 until 1973. Ever a cheerful figure, Grunthal was well regarded for helping members with identifications and appraisals.
In the late 1950s, the Society embarked on a series of renovations. This is the futuristic Eastern Exhibition Room following remodelling in 1958.
England: Henry VIII. AV sovereign, third coinage, ca. 1544-1547, London mint. Spink 2290. (ANS 1954.237.47, bequest of Herbert E. Ives) 38 mm.
Margaret Thompson (1911-1992), seen here with her niece, first came to the Society in 1949 and served as Curator of Greek Coins until 1976. She also served as the Society’s Chief Curator from 1969 to 1979. In 1989, the Society endowed the Margaret Thompson Curatorship of Greek Coins in her honor.
The chief accomplishments of this decade involved the publications program: the birth of the ANS’s contribution to the Sylloge Numorum Graecorum (SNG) and Ancient Coins in North American Collections (ACNAC) series, and the “internationalization” of Numismatic Literature in the late 1960s.
Ambassador Burton Y. Berry donated many hundreds of gold and silver ancient Greek coins during this period, which formed the basis for the ANS’s first SNG volume (1961), and he continued to do so into the 1970s, greatly enhancing the scope and quality of this outstanding part of the Society’s cabinet. A further splendid gift of such material came to the Society as the bequest of long-time friend and benefactor Adra M. Newell, widow of Edward T. Newell, fulfilling his wishes in completing the gift of an outstanding part of his incomparable collection. Other important gifts came from Bernard Peyton, who gave a fine assortment of early U.S. gold coins, and P. K. Anderson, who bequeathed his fine Hispanic collection.
Samuel R. Milbank (1906-1985) was the President of the Society from 1959 to 1978, making him the second-longest-serving president in the Society’s history.
United States. AV 2½ dollars, 1848, Philadelphia mint (counter-stamped CAL, indicating California gold). Breen 6196. (ANS 1960.166.65, gift of Bernard Peyton) 18 mm.
Joan Fagerlie served as Assistant Curator and then Curator of Roman and Byzantine Coins at the Society from 1960 to 1973. In 1957, Fagerlie attended the ANS’s Summer Seminar. In 1959, she became one of the first recipients of the Graduate Fellowship.
Nancy Waggoner (1924-1989) was hired in March 1968. One of Margaret Thompson’s students at Columbia University, Waggoner was first her assistant and later was promoted to Associate Curator in 1971 and Curator in 1976. She retired in 1988.
Spain (Al-Murabids): Tahsfin ibn ‘Ali. AV dinar, AH 537 (1142/3), Sevilla mint (unique). (ANS 1969.222.65; gift of P.K. Anderson) 26 mm.
Leslie Elam worked at the ANS from 1963 until 1999 in various capacities, most notably as Editor and Director. Between 1966 and 1972, the ANS underwent a series of management changes, resulting in Elam being named Director of the ANS in 1972. In 1997, Elam was named to the new position of Executive Director of the ANS. He retired in 1999.
Begun in the late 1960s, Ancient Coins in North American Collections (ACNAC) systematically describes and illustrates ancient coins in significant private and institutional collections.
This decade witnessed the expansion and increased professionalization of the curatorial staff. It also saw the Society co-host the International Numismatic Congress in 1973, a culmination of the efforts since 1905 to transform the Society from a local collectors’ club with scholarly pretensions into a world-renowned learned society. On a less happy note, this decade also saw the beginning of the financial troubles that would plague the ANS over the course of the next twenty years.
Nevertheless, important donations and purchases continued apace, with the gift of items from George C. Miles’ personal collection of mostly Islamic material by Mrs. J. R. McCredie; the bequest of the magnificent Robert F. Kelley collection of hundreds of significant Greek, Roman, and Byzantine coins; and the donation of the Dr. Lloyd Cabot Briggs collection of English coinage from the period of the eleventh-century anarchy during the reign of Stephen, among others. Perhaps the single most famous acquisition of this decade was the renowned Brasher doubloon (reportedly found by workers in a Philadelphia sewer in 1897), presented by the Society’s great benefactress Emery Mae Norweb. In 1973, the Metropolitan Museum of Art withdrew the longterm loan of its collections of coins in order to fund the purchase of the Euphronios crater. The ANS in turn acquired significant specimens from this collection.
Umayyad Caliphate: Arab-Byzantine series. AV dinar, standing caliph type, AH 75, Damascus mint. (ANS 1970.63.1, purchase) 20 mm.
Michael Bates joined the Society’s staff in 1970, becoming Assistant Curator in 1973, and Curator of Islamic Coins in 1977. He retired in 2006 and is currently Curator Emeritus.
United States: New York. AV doubloon (16 dollars), private pattern coinage by Ephraim Brasher, 1787, New York City. Breen 981. (ANS 1969.62.1, gift of Mrs. R. Henry Norweb) 30 mm. Another of the Society’s treasures currently on view in the “Drachma, Doubloons, and Dollars” exhibit.
William Metcalf served as the Society’s curator of Roman and Byzantine Coins from 1973 until 2000. He first came to the ANS in 1971, when he attended the Summer Seminar. In 1979, Metcalf was chosen to succeed the retiring Margaret Thompson as Chief Curator.
In 1975, Frank Campbell became the Society’s head librarian, after working in various capacities in the library since 1958. He retired in 2008, having served the Society for fifty years.
Richard Doty joined the ANS as Assistant Curator of Modern Coins. He curated the Society’s 1976 Bicentennial exhibition and collaborated with President Harry Bass to create the successful Coinage of the Americas Conference series.
In 1973, the Society co-hosted the eighth International Numismatic Congress (INC), the first time an had been held in the United States. Here the participants pose on the steps of Audubon Terrace.
In the early 1980s, the Society focused its efforts on public outreach with the introduction of popular events such as the Coinage of the Americas Conference and public lectures. Under Harry Bass’s guidance, the Society also began to take advantage of nascent computer technology with the development of the curatorial database. In addition, the ANS began to seriously tackle its financial problems with the capital campaign of the late 1980s and a downsizing of the staff. This was also the decade in which the Society revived its medallic program by expanding the Saltus Award and commissioning medals for the first time on a regular basis since the 1920s.
Many important gifts continued to come to the ANS during this decade. Among them may be mentioned the tremendous Arthur J. Fecht collection (actually turned over to the Society upon Fecht’s death in the 1940s; by the terms of his will it did not have its title pass until the death of his sister, ANS benefactor Neoma Fecht); the gift of the great medallic sculptor Victor D. Brenner’s extraordinary personal collection, donated by his nephew, David R. Lit; and the gift from the Chase Manhattan Bank of a part of the former collection of its famous currency museum.
Harry W. Bass Jr. (1927-1998), seen here with Samuel Milbank (r.), was ANS President from 1978 until 1984. Under his dynamic leadership, the Society initiated a number of new programs, including conferences, publications, and computerization. In appreciation for a generous bequest from the Bass Foundation, the ANS’ library is named after him.
Germany. AE commemorative medal by Karl Goetz, (ANS 1979.38.887, gift of the Goldberg family), Kienast no. 598, 92 mm. Thanks to the Goldberg donation of over one thousand medals in 1979, the ANS has one of the most complete collections of objects by the famed German medallic artist Karl Goetz anywhere in the world.
Alan Stahl first came to the ANS in 1975, when he attended the Graduate Summer Seminar. In 1980, he was hired to succeed Jeremiah Brady as Curator of Medieval Coins. Stahl’s responsibilities included curating the Society’s collection of medals. He actively worked with the Medals Committee to reinvigorate the Society’s moribund medallic program through exhibitions, the commissioning of medals, and expansion of the J. Sanford Saltus Award.
United States. WM quarter dollar, 1792, pattern by Joseph Wright, broad piedfort. Breen 1366; Judd 13; Pollock 15. (ANS 1980.66.2, gift of the Chase Manhattan Bank) 32 mm.
The ANS was one of the first museums in the United States to adopt computer technology for the creation of collections databases in the late 1970s.
Harry Fowler served as President from 1984 through 1989. His chief accomplishment was the successful Development Campaign—the Society’s first capital campaign.
The Society began publishing the quarterly ANS Newsletter in 1979 as a means of notifying members of recent and upcoming events. The final issue of the Newsletter was published in the winter of 2001. It was succeeded by the ANS Magazine in the spring of 2002.
In the 1990s, the Society increased its efforts to become a more public institution with the launch of the ANS website, the expansion of the lecture program, and the implementation of off-site conferencing in different regions of the United States. With the worsening financial situation, the ANS also began contemplating a move from Audubon Terrace, something that dominated much of the Society’s planning during the decade.
A healthy number of truly great gifts came to the Society during this period. The Jem Sultan collection of Ottoman Turkish coinage (formed by specialist William Holburton), presented to the Society by Olivia Lincoln—along with a large collection of Indian coins—gave the ANS the most comprehensive holdings in this field outside of Turkey. In the exquisite John D. Leggett collection, the Society received one of the foremost American assemblages of ancient Greek coins. With the addition of the collection of Past-President Harry W. Fowler, the cabinet was augmented by an important grouping of ancient Bactrian and Indo-Greek coins, leading to another ANS fascicule of the Sylloge Numorum Graecorum.
Ottoman Empire: Sulayman I “the Magnificent” (1520-1566). AR aqche, Nuwar mint, AH 926. Jem Sultan 1123. (ANS 1997.65.1124, gift of Olivia Lincoln) 12 mm.
The Colonial Newsletter was founded in 1960 and was originally published by The Colonial Newsletter Foundation. In 1997, the Society assumed publication responsibilities. CNL focuses on the study of the coinages produced by the states during the Confederation period and is published three times a year.
Carmen Arnold-Biucchi was the first Margaret Thompson Curator of Greek Coins, a position she held from 1989 through 2000. Previously she had served as Assistant Curator of Ancient Coins in the Roman and Greek departments since 1981.
Sicily, Syracuse. AR tetradrachm, by Kimon, ca. 406-405 BC. Tudeer 18j. (ANS 1997.9.56, bequest of John D. Leggett) 40 mm.
Bactrian Kingdom: Demetrius. AR tetradrachm, Panjhir mint, ca. 190-171 BC. SNG ANS 187. (ANS 1995.51.23, gift of Harry W. Fowler) 32 mm.
The second series of the American Journal of Numismatics which began in 1989, is the successor to Museum Notes. This publication continues as the Society’s annual scholarly journal.
John Kleeberg was Curator of Modern Coins from 1990 through 2000. Major accomplishments included his work on behalf of the ANS to reacquire the large U.S. cents stolen by William Sheldon in the 1940s.
The Proceedings of the Coinage of the Americas Conferences (COAC) consists of formal scholarly versions of the papers presented in the Society’s annual COAC, which was initiated by Harry W. Bass Jr. as a means of increasing the Society’s involvement with Western-hemisphere coinage, currency, and related fields.
The ANS’s financial situation reached its nadir in 1999 culminating in the loss of much of the curatorial and other staff. Under ANS President Donald Partrick and Executive Director Ute Wartenberg Kagan’s tutelage, the Society began to rebuild and redefine itself for the new century. Curators Robert Hoge and Peter van Alfen were hired in 2002. That year also saw the opening of the Society’s major exhibition “Drachmas, Doubloons, and Dollars,” at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, as well as the launch of the ANS Magazine. The most recent decade has also seen the vigorous revival of the ANS’s publication program, which in addition to traditional printed books and journals has now expanded to include online publications. In 2004, the Society left Audubon Terrace for good, moving into the Donald Groves Building in lower Manhattan. At the end of 2007, the ANS sold the Groves building in order to move into One Hudson Square.
Among the most important acquisitions in the new century was the collection of mostly late eighteenth-century Connecticut coppers formed by Edward R. Barnsley. These 1,241 objects were received under the terms of our agreement with the Colonial Newsletter Foundation (CNLF), thanks to the good offices of James Spilman. It is now widely believed that the Society holds not only the most complete collection of the surviving varieties of Connecticut “coppers,” but the largest as well.
Also in 2005, the Board of Trustees determined to discontinue the collecting of foreign military medals, orders, and decorations, and the resulting sales of this portion of the cabinet greatly increased funding available for acquisitions by purchase in other fields.
Donald G. Partrick, one of the eminent members of the U.S. numismatic community, became President of the ANS in 1999. A member since 1969, Partrick has been a generous contributor to the Society. Apart from supporting the building project at 140 William Street, he also endowed the position of North American Curator.
Spanish Colonial Mexico: Charles I and Johana, 1519—1556. AR 8 reales, assayer P over R (ca. 1540). Cf. Nesmith 6d (unlisted reverse die). (ANS 2006.13.1, gift of Richard H. Ponterio) 33 mm.
The Groves building, located at 140 William Street in downtown Manhattan.
In 2002, the Society launched the ANS Magazine to replace the newsletter format. In 2007, the magazine went online: ansmagazine.com
The Society launched its website in the late 1990s and has continually been adding content to it since, making it an indispensable research and news tool. In 2008, the ANS will be presenting a newly redesigned version of the website.
Seleucid Kingdom: Antiochus IV. AR tetradrachm, Ake-Ptolemais mint (168-167 BC). SCE 779b. (ANS 1999.30.24, gift of Herman Miller) 27 mm.
United States: Vermont, Machin’s Mills. AE “copper,” 1788. Miller 125-I; Breen 724 (ANS 2005.37.1140, Colonial Newsletter Foundation no. 6122, ex Barnsley) 27 mm.
As we move forward into the twenty-first century (and into our new location at One Hudson Square), the ANS will remain a dynamic and authoritative collecting, research, and education center. The ANS staff, from l. to r.: Alan Roche, Aadya Bedi, Anna Chang, Anthony Harp, Ben Hiibner, Robert Hoge, Elena Stolyarik, Andrew Meadows, Faceta Richards, Francis Campbell, Ute Wartenberg Kagan, Joanne Isaac, Joe Ciccone, Müserref Yetim, Oleg Medvedev, Peter van Alfen, Peter Donovan, Rick Witschonke, Sebastian Heath, Garfield Miller, Ted Withington.
Curatorial Assistant Sylvia Karges discusses coinage of the Iranian Huns with Dr. Klaus Vonderovec from the coin cabinet of the Museum of Fine Arts in Vienna.
Exhibiting the collections is a priority of the Society. Here ANS coins are on display in the new Greek and Roman galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York City.
The ANS’s new location at One Hudson Street, on the lower west side of Manhattan, at the foot of Holland Tunnel.