Library News (Spring 2003)

by Francis Campbell

The Francis D. Campbell Library Chair

In recent months, the Library Committee has been very active with publicity and fundraising for a Library Chair, which the Council approved at its October, 2002 meeting. As part of the fundraising effort, a Challenge grant application will be filed with the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), providing donors to the Chair an opportunity to be involved in the matching grant process. Under the Chairmanship of John W. Adams, the Committee will be soliciting donations from major coin and book dealers. To achieve our goal of $2,000,000, we will also approach most of the specialized organizations within the numismatic hobby. The memberships of these organizations know well the importance of the ANS Library and its librarians as a resource for the numismatic community. Therefore, we have the dual objective of securing a minimum of 500 individual contributors. In the paragraphs that follow, old and new friends will find a brief description of the Library, which has been in existence since the Society’s founding in 1858. Much of the text is drawn from a descriptive brochure that the Library Committee is preparing and will disseminate in the near future.

The Library houses one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of numismatic literature, presently numbering some 100,000 items. These include books, periodicals, manuscripts, photographs, pamphlets, auction catalogues, and microforms, all of which are catalogued. In addition to numismatic works, the Library includes a strong general reference collection and a wide selection of non-numismatic periodicals in the areas of archaeology, art history, economic history and other disciplines. Some 170 current periodical titles are received, and approximately 100 dealers regularly send their auction catalogs and fixed price lists to the Library. On average, the Library acquires some 300 books, 200 pamphlets, 600 periodical issues, 300 auction catalogs, and 200 fixed price lists annually. For the past several years, the Library has cataloged approximately 3500 items annually.

In order to maintain consistency in cataloging, the Library employs a computerized “List of Subject Headings for Specialized Collections in Numismatics.” The original list was compiled by the librarians and staff during the period 1978-1987, with funds received in three successive grants awarded by the NEH. The subject heading list grew out of a need to facilitate access to the Library’s holdings and to accommodate the cataloging of thousands of numismatic articles in the periodicals that the Library regularly receives. With the availability of the Library’s catalogue on the Society’s website, consistency in subject assignment assures that those researching specific topics will find the bulk of the material on those topics held by the Library.

With a professional staff of two, the Library presently supports the informational needs of museum staff, ANS membership and the general public through the acquisition, cataloguing and referencing of numismatic publications, domestic and foreign. Society programs, such as the Graduate Seminar in numismatics, require a library collection that will support graduate-level research. The pamphlet collection, consisting primarily of numismatic offprints, along with the library’s extensive current periodical collection, provide both seminar students and visiting readers with the latest findings in numismatic research. The very large holdings of commercial literature, consisting of auction catalogues and fixed price lists, enable individuals to track provenances and price changes for the particular numismatic objects that interest them. These catalogues and lists often include illustrations of the object not to be found elsewhere.

To service its clientele, the Library maintains a core collection of the early works on numismatics as well as the key numismatic references published over the centuries. Many of these works have come from the private numismatic libraries of distinguished numismatists and collectors, including those of Edgar H. Adams, William S. Appleton, Harry W. Bass, Jr., David M. Bullowa, Charles A. Hersh, Archer M. Huntington, Richard Hoe Lawrence, George C. Miles, Herman Miller, Edward T. Newell, Charles K. Panish, Daniel Parish and Isaac F. Wood. Recent archival acquisitions have included the numismatic archives of Virgil M. Brand, the New Netherlands Coin Company, the Garrett and Norweb families, John S. Davenport, the Chapman Brothers’Auction firm, and the John W. Adams Large Cent archives.

Along with physical growth, the Library has had to expand its services and shift the emphasis of its collection development in order to support the Society’s expanded activities and programs. Advances in information technology have also transformed the traditional role of the Library and its librarians. In particular, the Internet now brings the Library’s entire card catalog to the international numismatic community and that community is making increased use of the Library’s resources. Whereas in the past, we were primarily servicing the public via the post and telephone, we now have a daily stream of e-mail inquiries from all corners of the globe. Because our collection is international in scope, those living abroad have found that the ANS Library is able to satisfy many of their research needs, whether those needs involve an antiquarian numismatic work, a current auction catalog, or an obscure article.

Over the years, a succession of dedicated librarians have been responsible for building and maintaining the fine library collection that now forms the Library of the American Numismatic Society. Beginning in 1858 with James D. Foskett, who formed the original collection, the Library included among its other guardians Daniel Parish, Jr., Isaac F. Wood, Richard Hoe Lawrence, Sydney P. Noe, Richard P. Breaden, and Geoffrey H. North. In order to assure that the Society will be able to sustain this fine leadership tradition, the Society is establishing a Chair, which it will name the Francis D. Campbell Library Chair. As many of you know, Frank Campbell has headed the Library since 1975 and has been an employee of the Society since 1958. During his tenure, he has seen the library collection further enriched, new technology introduced, and the reading rooms modernized. However, before he passes the baton to a successor, he would like to see in place a fully funded Library Chair. The Library Committee and the Council are committed to achieving this goal and they feel certain that those of you who have made use of this great Library will want to lend your full support to seeing the goal achieved.

The Society is fortunate in having a Library Committee that demonstrates its interest in the Library through sound advice, energetic encouragement, and thoughtful generosity. Much of the Library’s growth over the years can be traced to the active involvement of committee members. Despite the demands of their own careers and their other numismatic interests, our committee members have always found time to assist the Library.

John Adams, Chairman of the Library Fund

John W. Adams, present Chairman of the Library Committee, is currently the Chairman and CEO of Adams, Harkness & Hill, Inc., a Boston-based investment bank specializing in emerging growth companies. A Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society, American Antiquarian Society and our own Society, he has authored numerous articles and three books which have become standard references. His most recent book is Indian Peace Medals of George III. He is also the author of United States Numismatic Literature : Nineteenth Century Auction Catalogs and United States Numismatic Literature : Twentieth Century Auction Catalogs, two volumes that have become essential references on the subject. Forthcoming, is a volume devoted to the medals of John Law.

The other members of the Library Committee, whose names will be familiar to many who take a serious interest in the numismatic scene, are:

Catherine E. Bullowa Harrington E. Manville
Frank Campbell Richard Margolis
Dan Hamelberg Anthony Terranova
David Hendin David Tripp
Wayne Homren Susan Tripp
George F. Kolbe Randolph Zander
Joseph R. Lasser

Anyone wishing to lend their support to this endeavor can make donations payable to the American Numismatic Society, designated for the Francis D. Campbell Library Chair.


Frank Campbell, ANS Librarian