News (Spring 2006)

ANS to Sell Foreign Orders and Decorations to Benefit Its Acquisition Fund

On May 24 and October 25, 2006, in landmark sales to be conducted in London by auctioneers Morton & Eden, in association with Sotheby’s, a unique collection of historic military medals, orders, and decorations from a variety of nations will be made available to museums and the collecting community.

In an earlier era, when organizations such as ANS took a very broad approach to collecting, the Society acquired an extensive and diverse collection of military medals, orders, and decorations, including numerous historically important European and Asian pieces (see article in this volume). Some of these medals come with specific histories that enhance their significance.

Among the British material are an Army Long Service and Good Conduct medal awarded in 1837 to a member of the Grenadier Guards who had taken part in the Battle of Waterloo, a Naval General Service medal awarded to a man who served on board Lord Collingwood’s flagship at Trafalgar, and a Polar medal awarded to the crew member who looked after the dogs on Captain Scott’s first expedition to the Antarctic.

From the late nineteenth to the middle of the twentieth century, the ANS accumulated more than five thousand British and world campaign and gallantry medals, orders, and decorations, but in recent decades, the Society has refocused its priorities, concentrating on its role as a museum of money and related artifacts, moving into new headquarters near Wall Street in Manhattan, and partnering with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to create an exhibition on the history of coins and currency.

The medals and decorations have not been exhibited for over twenty years, and the Society has decided to deaccession the foreign materials—though it will retain its holdings in American medals and decorations, as they reflect aspects of the political and socioeconomic historical context of the American coins and currency collection. The sales of the non-American material will reintroduce many interesting and important medals for possible acquisition by museums, collectors, and organizations in Europe and Asia, which may have a direct connection to the histories of these objects. The proceeds of the auctions will be used by the ANS to finance new acquisitions in line with the Society’s mission to create the definitive collection of world coinage.

“This sale is an opportunity for these materials to be transferred into collections where there will be more likelihood that they will be studied and exhibited,” said ANS executive director Dr. Ute Wartenberg Kagan. “The Society’s goals have been redefined since these objects were obtained—while we still saw it as vital to retain all our American orders and decorations, we recognized that this group of non-American material was not being curated and had not been on display for twenty years or more. Money raised from the sale will go into our acquisition fund to improve our core collection of American and world coins.”

Auctioneer James Morton, who specializes in war medals and decorations, said his company was delighted to have been chosen by the ANS to conduct the sale. He added: “In the long history of collecting orders, medals, and decorations, I do not believe there has ever before been an auction in which so many individual pieces covering such a broad range of content has been dispersed at one time. This is a landmark event, and we anticipate worldwide interest from collectors and institutions, who will be able to participate at every price level.”

Van Alfen to Speak at San Francisco Bourse

On May 27, Dr. Peter van Alfen, the Margaret Thompson Associate Curator of Greek Coins, will present a talk entitled “Cooperative Coinage,” at the San Francisco Bourse, which will be held at the Holiday Inn Golden Gateway, 1500 Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco. Show hours are 10am to 6pm; van Alfen will speak from 7 to 8pm. For more information on the Bourse, please call John Jencek, Bourse chairman, at 650-804-4841, or online at Jencek can also be e-mailed at:

Anna Chang Joins ANS Staff

Anna Chang joined the staff of the ANS in February, as Director of Finance and Operations. Anna holds an MBA and has earned the Executive Level Program certificate from Columbia University Graduate School of Business’ Not-for-Profit Institute. With over fifteen years experience in financial planning in the entertainment industry, she transitioned into the nonprofit arena, spending the past ten years as a senior financial manager at institutions such as the American Symphony Orchestra League, Spence Chapin Services to Families & Children, and the Intrepid Museum.

Anna Chang

New Promotions at the ANS

Richard Witschonke and Peter Donovan have been promoted to Curatorial Associates. This is a new position, the creation of which the Trustees approved at its meeting on March 4. The Executive Director, at the recommendation of the Curatorial Staff, may promote volunteers or other staff to the position of Curatorial Associate. Mr. Witschonke has been assisting the curatorial staff on a variety of projects, including photography, the Summer Seminar, accessions, and the Roman Provincial Coinage project. Mr. Donovan is working on Islamic coins and has undertaken the registry of the Jem Sultan Collection of Ottoman coins.

The Trustees also announced that the search for a second Margaret Thompson Curator will be opened. The Society wishes to employ a scholar in the ancient Greek field who would be able to oversee other parts of the collections as well. An advertisement will be posted in early April.