From the Executive Director (Spring 2008)

Dear Members and Friends,

The American Numismatic Society is celebrating its 150th Anniversary. Not many institutions in the United States today can look at such a distinguished history. Despite the fact that millions of Americans collect state quarters or other coins, serious numismatic collecting and research as represented by the ANS is not that common. How, then, did a small club of dedicated collectors grow into such a large and internationally reknowned organization?

This issue of the ANS Magazine helps to answer that question by giving an overview of the history of the ANS and highlighting a few of the key personalities that helped to make the institution what it is today. Some are famous industrialists such as J. P. Morgan or Archer Huntington, who were coin collectors as well as major philanthropists. Many of the names in our history, however, are less familiar to the general public, though it is the names of these many collectors who have left amazing collections to the ANS that are remembered by numismatists to this day. (In addition, our Archivist, Joe Ciccone, has prepared a fascinating article about one of the ANS’s most colorful and generous individuals, J. Sanford Saltus.)

It is hard to understand the ANS’s recent history without realizing how rapid the collections have grown since the 1940s. Today, the collection comprises over 800,000 objects, larger than comparable collections in the British Museum or elsewhere. The U.S. system of tax deductions for donated objects or money has obviously helped American museums catch up with their European counterparts. Nevertheless, it is amazing to look at the individuals who so generously contributed their collections to the ANS. Often, it is not just individual coins but a coin collection that allows us to understand entire periods, economic patterns, or people. The ANS continues to acquire whole collections in a number of areas, and we hope that many members will consider donating to the ANS in the future. In this issue, we also highlight, decade by decade, some of the important gifts to the cabinet and acquisitions through purchase that have made the ANS cabinet the world-class repository of coins and related numismatic material that it is.

Over the next few months, the ANS will be closed. Our move to One Hudson Square (see page 49) is being scheduled for the late spring, and we are planning to reopen to the public in September. I am confident that members will greatly enjoy our new facilities, where we have put a much greater emphasis on facilities for members beyond the library and collection storage.

In addition, in this issue we bid farewell to our long-time librarian, Frank Campbell, who has been with the ANS for fifty years—a full third of the Society’s existence! I ask you to join me in wishing him a joyful retirement.

Ute Wartenberg Kagan
Executive Director, ANS