Library News (Summer 2002)

by Francis Campbell

Library Seeks to Improve Online Access

Considerable praise has been received from members and others regarding the availability of the Library’s card catalogue on the Society’s website. I can assure you that the praise is very welcome because – from the outset – those who worked to make it possible knew it represented a resource that had to be shared with the numismatic community at large. And so, let’s thank the many Society librarians of the past who prepared the cards for the more than 150,000 records. Let’s thank the late Harry W. Bass, Jr. and the Foundation that bears his name for providing the funding that made possible the digitized records and finally, let’s thank Sebastian Heath for mounting it all on the website where it presently resides for all who would partake of this great resource.

While the existing catalogue is indeed worthy of praise, it is our hope to improve upon it. At present, Library materials are catalogued using stand-alone software. The records are then uploaded every few months to the Society’s website. Seeking to improve upon this situation, members of the Library Committee and other appreciative beneficiaries of the present catalogue, have provided some of the funding needed for development of a cataloguing system that will feed directly into our website, enabling all those who make use of it to have access to catalogued materials virtually as soon as they are catalogued. The system will build upon the existing order and accession components that were developed by W. L. Hill Consulting of Dallas, Texas.

With only a few thousand dollars yet to raise, we are hoping to deliver a new and improved library catalogue in the not too distant future.

Library Acquires Davenport Archives

In his 87th auction, held March 22nd of this year, George Kolbe offered for sale “The John S. Davenport Library & Numismatic Archives.” In describing the archives, Kolbe commented that “ideally,” this material “would be well placed in … a major numismatic society or national numismatic collection, where it would be open to study by all interested parties.” Fortunately, certain friends of the ANS Library agreed with Kolbe’s assessment and, largely through their generosity, the Librarian was able to purchase the entire Davenport Archives and some 32 additional lots. Among these were the original page proofs of Davenport’s “European Crowns 1600-1700” (Galesburg, IL, 1974) and the original typescript of his “The Coinage of the Ernestine and Minor Albertine Saxon Dutchies” (Coral Gables, 1988). Most of the annotated, extra-illustrated, or interleaved editions of Davenport’s major works were also acquired.

Through the series of catalogues that he produced over the past half century, Davenport became a dominant figure in research on the crown-sized coins of Europe and especially German talers. He corresponded with many numismatists both in the United States and abroad. Among the correspondents whose letters are found in the Archive, are B. Max Mehl, Enno van Gelder, Gunther Probszt, Imre Molnar, Mark Salton, Wayte Raymond, Bernhard Koch, Richard S. Yeoman, Peter Jaeckel, Friedrich Wielandt, Wilhelm Jesse, Gert Hatz, Franco Panvini Rosati, Otto Morkholm, Walter Grasser, Gerhard Welter, and Randolph Zander. Correspondence between Davenport and his publishers and the original telegram notifying him of his appointment to the U.S. Assay Commission, are also included. The photographic archive contains thousands of illustrations and negatives of European crowns and talers as well as other important world coins.

Telegram notifying John Davenport of his appointment to the U.S. Assay Commission

During the 1960’s and 70’s, while he was preparing many of his works, John Davenport was a regular visitor to the ANS library. When his teaching commitments would permit, John made the trip to New York and set about his research with the assistance of Richard P. Breaden and Geoffrey H. North, the Society’s librarians during that period. After retiring and moving to Florida, he kept in touch via the mails when he needed materials for his research. His articles and books, of which the library has cataloged approximately 130, will serve as a permanent memorial to this most diligent scholar and we are very pleased to be able to add to these the archival and other materials acquired at the Kolbe sale.

With the acquisition of the Davenport Archives the Library makes a significant addition to its existing archival holdings, which include the ledgers and papers of Virgil M. Brand, the Garrett family numismatic archives, the Norweb family ledgers, the files of the New Netherlands Coin Company, and papers from the John W. Adams collection relating to United States Large Cents.