The Stack Family Coinage of the Americas Conference

by Robert Wilson Hoge

The Coinage of the Americas Conference (COAC) was the brain-child of Harry W. Bass, Jr., President of the American Numismatic Society from 1978 to 1984, who sought to increase the Society’s involvement with Western hemisphere coinage, currency and related fields. At the 125th anniversary meeting of the Society, in 1983, he proposed establishment of an ongoing series on specialized topics and in 1984, the project commenced with “America’s Copper Coinage, 1783-1857.” As stated in the preface of the first published volume of papers presented at the conference, Proceedings No. 1, “The Purpose of these conferences is to facilitate the exchange of information. Toward this end, experts in the field are invited to present papers, collectors are invited to exhibit, and notice of the conference is circulated widely to encourage attendance by all interested in the topic.”

In connection with the conferences, the Society has mounted exhibitions of its own holdings to broaden awareness of its library and cabinet and published an important series of Proceedings, the formal scholarly versions of the papers presented. These volumes have been edited by former ANS curators William L. Bischoff, Richard G. Doty, John M. Kleeberg, William E. Metcalf and Alan M. Stahl, and also Philip L. Mossman. COAC themes have included “Canada’s Money” and “The Coinage of El PerĂº” but most have focused upon specific United States or Colonial issues, time periods, denominations or other subject matter. One particularly noteworthy conference dealt with “America’s Gold Coinage,” and featured the exhibition of the fabulous collection formed by Harry Bass himself.

The 2004 Stack Family COAC, May 14-15, reviews the theme of American Colonial History Illustrated by Contemporary Medals, the famous classic reference by C. Wyllys Betts on this important subject. The speakers and their presentations will explore the content of this work and these medals, including updates to Betts’ 19th century inventory and new research on some of the many series it incorporated. This field was both pioneered and well-explored by Betts, but ongoing research contributes much to our current understanding.