Library News (Summer 2004)

by Francis Campbell

Although it has taken a while and involved the packing of more book cartons than we care to remember, the move to 96 Fulton Street is now complete. The first moving vans (i.e., The Padded Wagon) began the trek to Lower Manhattan in mid-April and by the first week of June had transported the entire Library, which is now installed on floors five and six of the new building. Assisting with the move, at both the old and new buildings, were Assistant Librarian, Barbara Bonous-Smit and Library Assistant, Kary Collado. Deserving special mention is the assistance provided by ANS member, Normand Pepin, whose efforts contributed substantially to the success of the overall move.

Awaiting van

Waiting to exit

Arrival at new home

In the week following the Society’s June 18th Grand Opening ceremonies, visitors began arriving to share the reading rooms with the students enrolled in this year’s Graduate Seminar. The Seminar students had been using the Library’s research facilities since June 1st. Although permanent signage is not yet installed, readers have been able to find what they want using the temporary section labels affixed to the end of each range of shelves. These will eventually be replaced with permanent signage and it is our intention to display the names of donors who have thus far participated in naming opportunities for Library rooms, sections and shelves. The Library Committee and its Chairman, John W. Adams, have been very active in this regard.

John Adams offering opening remarks

Ford Reading Room Dedicated

As was mentioned at the ceremony for our recently dedicated Harry W. Bass, Jr. Library, held on December 2nd, the Library is a work in progress and it is due to the support of the Bass Foundation and many others who share a concern for the Library that real progress is being made. Our most recent dedication ceremony was that held for the naming of The John J. Ford, Jr. Reading Room. While the Reading Room will certainly serve to memorialize John Ford’s name, it should be noted that the Library holds a resource that provides perhaps greater evidence of his talents as a coin dealer and expert on various aspects of United States numismatics. The resource I refer to is the New Netherlands Coin Company Archive. In 1950, Charles Wormser invited John to join him in running the New Netherlands firm, which had been founded in the 1930s by Moritz Wormser, Charles’ father. Within two years, John was a full partner and helped build New Netherlands into one of the most successful American auction firms. Although John published articles in various numismatic journals over the years, even winning the ANA’s Heath Award for his 1957 piece entitled, “Wayte Raymond, the Man and the Era,” the catalogs he prepared for New Netherlands will serve as a lasting tribute to his research and descriptive skills. Whether your personal favorite is the 1952 ANA Convention catalogue or New Netherlands’ 60th sale of December 3-4, 1968, you will find John Ford at his best.

John’s love of coins and books brought him into contact with most of the great dealers and collectors of his era. The Stack family, Charles Wormser, Wayte Raymond, Walter Breen, who he brought to work at New Netherlands, B. Max Mehl, the Norwebs, F.C.C. Boyd, Douglass Ball, Homer Downing, T. James Clark, and Louis Eliasberg are but a few of the names. He had a personal library of some 4,000 books, periodicals, catalogs, and correspondence. Fortunately for me, when he moved to Phoenix much of his library remained in boxes. Had this not been the case, I might well have missed the chance to have regular conversations with a truly original personality.

I came to know John well after he moved to Phoenix when he would occasionally call to have a reference checked or to request a photocopy. During these calls John would invariably share with me his memory of some personality or some event he had been part of in the course of his successful career as a coin dealer. John’s descriptions brought the personalities and events to life. In the mid-1990s, when I took ill and had to spend a while in the hospital John was quite solicitous about my health at a time when he was himself suffering from cancer. This is a side of John Ford’s personality that I will always remember.

Librarian Frank Campbell introducing the Library to the dedication attendees

The dedication ceremony, which was well-attended by members of the Ford family and numerous guests, provided the opportunity for old friends to reminisce about John’s career and inspect the room that will bear his name.

The ribbon cutting

The Ford family

Auction Reminder

On August 19th, during the ANA Convention in Pittsburgh, we will be conducting a donated book auction to benefit the Francis D. Campbell Library Chair. It will be held at Tambellini’s Restaurant (easy walking distance from the ANA Convention). Cocktails will be served at 5:15pm, followed by a dinner and the auction. Tickets are $50.00 each and reservations can be made by writing or e-mailing to John Adams, 60 State Street, 12th floor, Boston, MA 02109.