|by Ute Wartenberg Kagan|
Dear Members and Friends,
In March 1858, a group of collectors in New York came together to organize an antiquarian society. From its inception, the creation of collections was important to the members that supported this new organization. Most if not all of them were collectors themselves, and they wanted to create an institution in which objects could be housed, preserved, and made available to members and the public. In Europe, numismatic institutions had a long and distinguished history; many kings and aristocrats were avid collectors of coins and numismatic books, which over time helped create the coin cabinets as we know them today. By the beginning of the nineteenth century, the cabinets of the British Museum and Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris had grown into enormous reference collections. The ANS, on the other hand, was still in its infancy, without a building to house its small collections and library, nor a staff. However, it had ambitions. Today, the ANS has one of the world’s largest numismatic collections, its library serves numismatists throughout the globe, and its publications both in print and on the Web are very popular. There is, however, more work to do to ensure that the ANS will exist for another century and beyond. The intellectual and financial support of our members will be crucial to the Society’s development.
One of the key components of the ANS’s identity is its New York City location, and this generates a lot of comments. In a recent letter from a Fellow, who kindly sent a donation in the mid-year appeal, he complained that nothing was ever done for those members outside New York. New York is too expensive to visit, and thus what was the point of supporting this institution? Although it is hard to disagree with the fact that the ANS collections are kept in New York, the Web site and the print publications are available to everyone, at the exactly the same cost. Over the years, the ANS has put a tremendous amount of effort into its Web site and online databases. When we first started the ANS Magazine, it was primarily intended for members outside New York who had little contact with the institution. We will continue to provide more print and online resources for members outside of New York and we will also try to cover a wider variety of topics. In addition, at any given time, numerous items from the ANS cabinet are “on the road”—on display or in museum exhibits throughout the United States and beyond its borders.
Here at the ANS we are greatly looking forward to the various celebrations we have scheduled for 2008. The Gala in January will be in honor of our former President and current Chairman Donald G. Partrick. His efforts and contributions over the last decade have moved the ANS forward profoundly. We are looking forward to a joyous celebration of his presidency. A number of publications will mark the sesquicentenary of the Society. I have been working on a book that will highlight the 150 Greatest Treasures of the ANS. Many hitherto unknown pieces with great stories will be published in this book, which Whitman Publishing has generously taken on. Our archivist Joe Ciccone and our editor David Yoon are working on a new history of the ANS. Other activities will include an exhibition of the ANS’s 150 years as the preeminent American numismatic institution.
I would like to express my gratitude to all our members for their continued support and their enthusiasm and ideas, which make it possible for the ANS to carry out its important work.
Ute Wartenberg Kagan
Executive Director, ANS