Who is Named on the Old ANS Building?

by Joseph Ciccone

One of the more intriguing aspects of the 1930 addition to the ANS building was the insertion of names across the top of the building. While their association with numismatics is certain, some of the names, like Heiss and Lelewel, are rather obscure even to well-informed numismatists. Chosen by Archer Huntington himself, these names reflect in many cases Huntington’s own interests and research, and his own views of which numismatists were worthy of immortalization in stone. These are:

Joseph Hilarius Eckhel (1737-1798). Eckhel is considered by many to be the founder of the science of classical numismatics. In 1774 Maria Theresa appointed him Director of Antique Coins of the Coin Cabinet in Vienna. Eckhel’s major achievement is the eight-volume Doctrina Nummorum Veterum, in which he introduced a strict scholarly system for numismatics. In this book, the Greek coinages are classified geographically, while the Roman ones are described factually and chronologically. This type of classification is referred to as “Eckhel’s Order.”

Barclay Vincent Head (1844-1914). Head was Keeper of the Department of Coins and Medals in the British Museum. His Historia Numorum, published in 1887, changed the study of Greek coins by studying them systematically. Head was educated at Ipswich Grammar School, entering the British Museum in 1864. He became joint editor of the Numismatic Chronicle in 1869, a position he held until 1910. In 1873 he began to publish the major catalogs of the Greek coin collections at the British Museum. In the end, he wrote eight of the nearly thirty volumes in the series.

Aloiss Heiss (1820-1893). Heiss was a 19th century French numismatist. He is probably most well-known for his study of Spanish coinage struck in the time of the Visigoths and during the rise of Christianity on the Iberian peninsula. He is also known for his volumes on Italian Renaissance medals.

Joachim Lelewel (1786-1861). Lelewel was a Polish historian and numismatist. His works on Polish history were collected under the title Polska, Dzieje i Rzeczy Jej Rozpatrzywane (Poland, Her History and Affairs Surveyed), which were published in twenty volumes. In addition, he also wrote two important works on numismatics: the two volume La Numismatique du moyen age (1835) and Etudes numismatiques (1840).

Christian Martin Fraehn (1782-1851). Fraehn, a Russian numismatist, is credited with the creation of the interest in oriental numismatics throughout Russia and is considered the founder of Islamic Science in Russia. Fraehn wrote more than 143 publications and manuscripts and also developed the type of cataloging system that is the basis for the style used today called “Fraehn system of Islamic Coins.”

Sylvester Crosby (1831-1914). In April 1869, Sylvester S. Crosby published an article entitled “The United States Cents of 1793” in the ANS’ American Journal of Numismatics. In this article, Crosby outlined the various obverse and reverse dies used on the 1793 chain and wreath cents, which was the first analysis of an issue by die variety. This die study of the 1793 large cent was the first die study in history. In addition, Crosby also wrote The Early Coins of America. This one volume reference was first published in 1875 and, more than 125 years after it was written, it is still the standard reference on this Colonial coin type.