All posts by The American Numismatic Society

ANS to Repatriate 94 War-Looted Coins to the Salzburg Museum


Salzburg Museum. Photo: Karl Gruber, CC-BY SA 4.0.
Salzburg Museum. Photo: Karl Gruber, CC-BY SA 4.0.

The American Numismatic Society (ANS) welcomes the Director and CEO of the Salzburg Museum, Direktor Hon.-Prof. Mag. Dr. Martin Hochleitner, and Dr. Peter Lechenauer, an attorney representing the Salzburg Museum, to New York for the repatriation of a group of 94 coins stolen from the Museum Carolino-Augusteum of Salzburg in 1945. The coins will be turned over to Dr. Hochleitner and Dr. Lechenauer by Mr. Kenneth L. Edlow, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the ANS, and Dr. Ute Wartenberg Kagan, Executive Director of the ANS, on Friday, May 26, 2017.

ANS benefactor, Chester L. Krause.

This group of coins came to the ANS in 1995 after our late Benefactor, Mr. Chester L. Krause, brought them to the attention of the curators. Mr. Krause had learned that these coins were rumored to have come from a museum in Austria in 1945 and donated to the ANS the funds to purchase them, so as to ensure that they could be returned to any rightful owner rather than being dispersed on the market. The ANS accepted the gift and acquired the coins in order to preserve the group intact, while curators Alan Stahl and William Metcalf immediately began inquiries with colleagues in Austria to determine whether a legitimate owner could be identified so that the coins could be repatriated.

Gold florin, Salzburg (Austria), 1365–1396. (ANS 1996.3.1).
Gold florin, Salzburg (Austria), 1365–1396. (ANS 1996.3.1).

The details of the story, as known at the time, were also published in the 1996 ANS Annual Report. In the last year of World War II, the coins from the Salzburger Museum Carolino-Augusteum were moved to underground storage for protection. After the end of the war, the American occupation authorities took custody of those coins; when they were returned to the museum in 1946, over 2,000 coins were missing. Publications from before and after the war made it clear that the coins the ANS had acquired closely matched some of the missing coins from the Salzburger Museum, but no clear proof was available at that time.

Silver denar of CIO, Salzburg (Austria), 991–1023. (ANS 1996.3.18).
Silver denar of CIO, Salzburg (Austria), 991–1023. (ANS 1996.3.18).

Open-access publication of old ANS annual reports has made them much more widely available, and this brought the story to the attention of more numismatists in Austria. As a result, recent work has been able to match a few coins with earlier photographs and many others, which have inventory numbers written in ink on the surface of the coin, with an old card file in the Salzburg Museum bearing similar numbers. This work has demonstrated that the group of coins can in fact be identified as a small but valuable portion of the coins stolen from the Salzburger Museum over 70 years ago.

Silver groschen, Bohemia, 1378–1419. (ANS 1996.3.62).
Silver groschen, Bohemia, 1378–1419. (ANS 1996.3.62).

These coins represent an important body of material for the study of the history of Salzburg and Austria. Highlights include a gold florin of Archbishop Pilgrim II of Salzburg (1365–1396), a silver pfennig of the same archbishop, a silver pfennig of Archbishop Hartwig of Salzburg (991–1023), and a Bohemian groschen of the years around 1400 that was counter-stamped for validation by three different cities, Nördlingen, Ulm, and Salzburg. The ANS is pleased to have assisted with their return home.

Silver pfennig, Salzburg (Austria), 1365–1396. (ANS 1996.3.45).
Silver pfennig, Salzburg (Austria), 1365–1396. (ANS 1996.3.45).

Executive Director Dr. Ute Wartenberg commented on the return of the coins to Austria: “We are delighted that these interesting coins will be returned to the museum where they belong and where people will view and study them. I am also so grateful to the late Chet Krause for his extraordinary initiative in trying to preserve Austrian heritage. A case like this one illustrates that even today museums in the US should be acting perhaps as safe havens for looted objects and be more proactive in acquiring looted objects with the specific purpose to eventually repatriate them.”

The American Numismatic Society, organized in 1858 and incorporated in 1865 in New York State, operates as a research museum under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and is recognized as a publicly supported organization under section 170(b)(1)(A)(vi) as confirmed on November 1, 1970.

ANS Receives Grant to Clean U.S. Large Cent Collection

(Please note: the announcement below was an April fool’s prank. Enjoy!)

The ANS is pleased to announce today that it has received a Rockefeller-Noggin grant that will be used to conserve its important collection of early U.S. large cents.

After decades of neglect, dust dirt and grime have taken their toll on this part of our collection. This results in a a layer of corrosion, tarnish and oils that cause the once brilliant gleaming coin to have a dull dark brown appearance making photography of these items very difficult. The ANS photographer, Alan Roche, took the initiative to apply for a grant from the prestigious Rockefeller-Noggin Institute to restore the coins to their original lustre. The successful application means the Society will receive $20,000 in funding to hire personnel and purchase conservation materials, including 50 gallons of Brasso™, to conserve approximately 10,000 coins. The work is to commence immediately.

Mysteries from the Vault: Ancient Amulet

With close to a million objects in the American Numismatic Society’s collections, the curatorial team occasionally comes across items that are mysteries to us. This series will feature some of these objects in the hopes that the collective wisdom of our readers can help us to identify and learn more about them.

With one of our older mysteries recently solved, it seemed to be a good time for a new one!

This is a one-millimeter thin and roughly square piece of metal that features an intricate design. It has been pierced so we presume it was used as some sort of amulet. The pictorial elements and glyphs (and/or writing) are incised on both sides. It weighs 15.31 grams and its dimensions are 49 mm in height and 46 mm in width. We do not have a provenance for the item beyond the fact that it was discovered in one of our ancient cabinets.

Who or what are those little figures at bottom right?

ANS, 0000.999.56759
ANS, 0000.999.56759



Have an idea about what this might be? Let us know in the comments or drop us a line here.


Some more photos to try and bring out the design (click to enlarge)


NEH-Mellon Foundation Humanities Open Book Project

The American Numismatic Society has been chosen as one of ten publishers to participate in the Humanities Open Book project, a joint NEH-Mellon Foundation grant program to convert out-of-print books of enduring scholarship into EPUB e-books, which will be licensed so as to allow readers to search and download these books freely, and to read them on any type of e-reader.






ANS publications date back to 1866 and include over 500 volumes of numismatic scholarship. Thanks to the funding received from the Mellon Foundation, nearly 100 of its rarest out-of-print books will be converted into free EPUB digital editions. The ANS will go one step further by TEI-encoding these editions for online viewing, searching, and linking. Following best-practices of Linked Open Data (LOD), these XML files will link to (and will be able to be linked from) other Open Access (OA) resources like the Virtual International Authority File, the Pleiades Gazetteer of Ancient Places, and ANS digital projects like OCRE and PELLA.


Pictured above are just a few of the some one hundred works that will be processed. The assorted works digitized through this generous Humanities Open Book grant will be available via the ANS Digital Library by the end of 2016.

Read the full press release here.

2016 Summer Seminar Announcement

62nd Annual Eric P. Newman Graduate Summer Seminar in Numismatics

June 6 through July 29, 2016

For over half a century, The American Numismatic Society, a scholarly organization and museum of coins, money, and economic history, has offered select graduate students and junior faculty the opportunity to work hands-on with its preeminent numismatic collections. With over three-quarters of a million objects, the collection is particularly strong in Greek, Roman, Islamic, Far Eastern, and US and Colonial coinages, as well as Medallic Art. Located in New York City’s SoHo district, the Society also houses the world’s most complete numismatic library.


The rigorous eight-week course, taught by ANS staff, guest lecturers, and a Visiting Scholar, introduces students to the methods, theories, and history of the discipline. In addition to the lecture program, students will select a numismatic research topic and, utilizing ANS resources, complete a paper or digital project while in residence. The Seminar is intended to provide students of History, Art History, Textual Studies, and Archeology who have little or no numismatic background with a working knowledge of a body of evidence that is often overlooked and poorly understood. Successful applicants are typically doctoral candidates or junior faculty in a related discipline, but masters candidates are admitted as well.

This year’s Visiting Scholar will be Dr. Klaus Vondrovec, Curator of Ancient Coins at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, who also teaches at the University of Vienna. Dr. Vondrovec is, among other things, a specialist in late Roman and ancient coinages of Central Asia.

Applications are due no later than February 12, 2016. A limited number of stipends of up to $4000 are available to US citizens, and non-US citizens studying at US institutions under certain visas.

For application forms and further information, please see the seminar page on our website:

Please address inquiries to the Seminar Director, Dr. Peter van Alfen at

Mysteries from the Vault: H.R.C. Clock Token

With close to a million objects in the American Numismatic Society’s collections, the curatorial team occasionally comes across items that are mysteries to us. This series will feature some of these objects in the hopes that the collective wisdom of our readers can help us to identify and learn more about them.

With one of our older mysteries recently solved, it seemed to be time for a new one!

This token is 26 mm in diameter and weighs 4.19 grams, with a die axis of 12. One side has a  table top still-life scene wreathed by Roman clock numbers; the other is embossed with the initials H.R.C. and the number 99. It was purchased by the American Numismatic Society as part of a lot of 200 tokens from Schindler’s Antique Shop of Charleston, South Carolina. Click to enlarge the images if you need a closer look.

ANS, 1952.110.51
ANS, 1952.110.51
ANS, 1952.110.51
ANS, 1952.110.51

Have an idea about what this might be? Let us know in the comments or send us an email.

Dar al-Kutub: Collection of the Egyptian National Library

dar_al-kutubThe American Numismatic Society is pleased to announce, in collaboration with Dr. Jere Bacharach of the University of Washington and Dr. Sherif Anwar of Cairo University, the debut of Dar al-Kutub, a digital publication and database of the non-hoard numismatic collection of the Egyptian National Library.

The catalog consists of more than 6,500 objects, ranging from late Roman glassware and pre-Islamic Sasanian coinage to the modern Egyptian coinage of Anwar Sadat. The collection is particularly strong in Medieval Islamic coinage across all major dynasties. The catalog differs from its predecessors in a number of ways. Most notably, the collection has been photographed in color, with inscriptions read and transcribed from these images. The database includes references to the 1982 catalog of the collection undertaken by Dr. Norman D. Nicol.

Barquq, AH 784 / CE 1382-1383 Egyptian National Library, 2830
Barquq, Burji Mamluks, AH 784 / CE 1382-1383
Egyptian National Library, 2830

The interface is available in both English and Arabic, owing to translations provided by Dr. Sherif Anwar. The multilingual interface is driven by numismatic concepts defined by Over the course of this project, more than 700 Islamic entities—people, dynasties, corporate entities, mints, etc.—were created in Nomisma, with labels in English, Arabic, and other languages, forming the technical foundation for the aggregation of other Islamic numismatic collections. Geographic coordinates have been included for the majority of Islamic mints, permitting the mapping of the Egyptian National Library collection.

Mint Map

According to Ethan Gruber, the ANS Director of Data Science, “the effort undertaken in defining Islamic entities in a Linked Open Data environment will make it possible to improve the Islamic department in the ANS database, and may make Islamic type corpora similar to Online Coins of the Roman Empire possible in the future.” Like other ANS digital projects, the data are freely available with an Open Database License, and are published in the Numishare framework.

The team wishes to thank the American Research Center in Egypt for their funding of this project, and acknowledge the contributions of all of the individuals named here.

Conflict Antiquities and the ANS

Ute Wartenberg Kagan, Executive Director of the American Numismatic Society, spoke about collecting coins and the conflict in Syria as part of a larger program about conflict antiquities last week. The event was sponsored by the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and was hosted by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City on September 29th. As described by the State Department, the panel discussions “highlighted the connection between ISIL’s looting and trafficking of antiquities and the financing of terrorist operations . . . and forged public-private education and advocacy campaigns about best practices for museums, collectors, and auction houses around the world.” Select segments of each panel were captured on video, and the PDF remarks, presentations, and slides of many of the speakers are available on the State Department’s website.

The first of two panels featured officials from the State Department, United Nations, Department of Homeland Security, and the FBI, as well as the Michael Danti of the American Schools for Oriental Research. The State Department for the first time presented publicly concrete evidence that ISIL is systematically looting archaeological sites in Syria, and is profiting from selling the antiquities on the black market.

Looted Antiquities US Department of State

This is a topic that was previously explored on this blog, but the government’s presentation leaves no doubt that there has been a very organized and focused effort by ISIL to profit from the trade in antiquities. The full PDF presentation including photographic documentation of the evidence can be viewed and downloaded here.

The second panel hosted six speakers from the ANS, CBS News, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Pergamon Museum, Christie’s, and eBay to discuss best-practices and communication regarding exercising thorough due diligence when buying and selling antiquities. Wartenberg’s presentation focused on the American Numismatic Society’s guidelines for the acquisition of coins, and its recommendations to its Members who collect about how to protect themselves from buying potentially looted coins. The ANS promotes and supports ethical coin collecting, but reminds buyers to exercise both caution and common sense when considering purchasing fresh coins from Syria and surrounding regions. You can read or download Wartenberg’s full presentation at the symposium.

Silver Tetradrachm of Cyme (ANS 1948.19.1171)
Silver Tetradrachm of Cyme (ANS 1948.19.1171)

On June 16, 2012, the ANS Board of Trustees ratified revised collections management policies, which include general principles, acquisition procedures, sales, loans, and deaccessioning criteria and procedures. These may be read online here and will also be published in the next edition of the ANS Magazine.

Throughout 2015 and 2016, the ANS will host various events during which Members will be given the opportunity to learn more about these issues, and to discuss them with the senior staff and administration. Details about these events will be posted on the ANS’s Events and Exhibitions webpage.

Lastly, we would like to underscore Wartenberg’s concluding remarks that the American Numismatic Society’s curatorial staff is committed to taking a more active role in raising awareness about the destruction of national heritage and the looting of antiquities, including coins. As she notes, much of this damage will be impossible to undo, but we will nevertheless work to “engage collectors, dealers, archaeologists, legislators, and law enforcement officials in a dialogue that creates a 21st-century academic discipline and hobby for serious coin collectors as it should be undertaken.”