In December 2015, the American Numismatic Society began a joint project with the Newman Numismatic Portal, an online numismatic resource, in order to enable greater access to American numismatic research material on both the ANS Digital Library and Newman Portal websites.
To date, nearly 500 early American auction catalogues have been scanned by the ANS for this project totaling over 30,000 pages so far. These catalogues include those of Frossard, Woodward, Chapman, Elder, and other notable names in the field.
John Graffeo, the scanner operator, trained first with ANS librarian/archivist David Hill throughout 2015 in the care and handling of the Society’s rare books, and later trained in Princeton with the Internet Archive on how to use the revolutionary Table Top Scribe scanner. The scanning process includes matching an auction catalogue with its metadata (information about the book) in the ANS’s library catalogue, taking a test image, and then proceeding to scan the rest of the volume.
The scanner itself is comprised of a metal carriage that cradles each book so as not to effect the spine. Graffeo uses a foot-pedal to raise the book to a pair of glass panes after which he clicks a button to activate two cameras, which photograph the book’s spread.
After the catalogue has been photographed, Graffeo checks for image quality, tags each page (front matter, interior pages, back matter, cover), and then crops each image, being sure to maintain all of the data on the page including handwritten marginalia such as sale prices and buyer names. Once the volume is complete, Graffeo uploads it to the Internet Archive for a spot-check on quality, after which it goes live online at the Newman Numismatic Portal as part of the ANS’s collection of online auction catalogues. Some of the auction catalogues are exceedingly fragile, so scanning them in this fashion helps to preserve their contents without destroying or damaging the books.
“This is a great project,” Graffeo said between scans. “It’s extending the wealth of numismatic information and sharing it for the public good.” All of the scans are available immediately as Open Access for free use by anyone for any reason. The content is shared, and the artifact of the book is preserved. Numismatics has been an interdisciplinary subject since its inception, and making all of the ANS’s holdings publicly available remains central to the Society’s mission.
The Newman Numismatic Portal, sponsored by a $2 million grant from the Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society to the Washington University Libraries, began operations in December 2014. It has digitized over 1,000 documents to date, including a unique set of bid books from the firms of Samuel and Henry Chapman, which were generously loaned by ANS Trustee Dan Hamelberg.
Administered through Washington University Libraries in St. Louis, the Newman Portal contracted with Internet Archive, which has provided equipment, training, and staff for the scanning operation at the ANS Library. Internet Archive is a non-profit organization dedicated to digital preservation of all media.
“We are thrilled to have this opportunity to begin distributing some of the Library’s research collections on a large scale in the same way that much of the Society’s coin collections are being made available through online research tools like PELLA, OCRE, and MANTIS,” David Hill, supervisor of the onsite operations, said. “When you think about all of the materials in the Library’s Rare Book Room, which include unique archival collections such as dealer and collector correspondence, you really begin to realize what an impact a project like this can have.”
(all photos by Alan Roche, American Numismatic Society)
The ANS recently acquired a £10 “Di-faced” banknote created by the street artist Banksy (active 1992–). The note was purchased at the 2016 New York International Numismatic Convention (NYINC) from Joseph Linzalone of Wolfshead Gallery, who, along with James Hallgate (a Banksy dealer) of Lucius Books, had jointly obtained eight of these specimens directly from Banksy’s manager in 2014.
The note parodies British £10 notes from the mid-2000s, replacing the face of Queen Elizabeth II with that of Diana, Princess of Wales. The elaborate script at the top of the note’s obverse reads, “Banksy of England”, replacing “Bank of England.” The reverse of the note remains largely unchanged except for the all-caps legend “trust no one” in the lower-right corner. Weighing ca. 1.32 g, the note is printed with inks on paper nearly identical to that used on official, UK-issued currency.
Banksy, known for his satirical and subversive street art, created a large quantity of the Princess Diana notes in August 2004, a roll of which was reportedly thrown into the crowd at the Notting Hill Carnival and at the Reading Festival that year. Some of these bills were used by festival-goers as actual currency, prompting Banksy to cease distribution. He re-used the note’s image later in a lithograph commemorating Princess Diana’s death, and also in 2009’s “Million-Pound Briefcase”. Uncut sheets of these notes have fetched as much as £16,000 and £24,000 at auction.
The creation of the banknotes went relatively unreported from 2004 until 2007 at the 10-year anniversary of Princess Diana’s death; Banksy was not sought for any counterfeiting charges, unlike American currency artist J. S. G. Boggs. In Banksy’s filmExit Through the Gift Shop, Banksy speaks to the fact that after the incidents at the festivals, he realized he had forged around £100,000,000, nearly all of which remain in his possession.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of the note the ANS acquired is its secure provenance. Genuinely authentic Banksy banknotes are exceedingly rare, and are often counterfeited/copied and sold online via auction sites such as ebay. Most sellers claim to have been at either the Nottingham Carnival or Reading Festival in 2004, and the fake notes sold are either photocopies or printed scans.
The market for Banksy notes is so great that it has generated detailed online discussions and videos of how to spot fakes. Many of the Princess Diana notes are listed online as auctions at between $200 and $600, nearly all of which are private listings that mask bidders’ identities and allow the seller to drive up the bids using shell ebay accounts. People interested in acquiring an authentic Banksy note should work through a reputable dealer or auction house.
The ANS’s Banksy note (ANS 2016.9.1) is the first specimen of fine-art paper currency at the Society, joining several examples of defaced/modified coins in the cabinet. Visitors to the ANS may schedule a time to see the Banksy note, or other items in the collection.
NOTE: On October 6, 2016, the ANS received the following notice from the Bank of England asking us to remove the images of the front and back of an official 10-pound note, which was in violation of copyright. Here is the text of the message:
You may not be aware, but it is a criminal offence under section 18 of The Forgery and Counterfeit Act 1981 to reproduce banknotes without prior written permission from the Bank of England.The Bank of England also owns the copyright in its banknotes.
The Bank may grant permission to reproduce banknotes, providing those reproductions meet the standards set out in our guidelines:
The United States Mint today issued a press release regarding a new coin design competition, and we at the ANS would like to share it with you:
The United States Mint is pleased to share official information about the World War I Centennial 2018 Commemorative Coin Design Competition. We invite you to visit a dedicated landing page – www.usmint.gov/competition – where you can access the rules, schedule and details on how to enter when the competition opens to the public on Feb. 29, 2016.
As an organization that places value on the arts and design, we hope you will help spread the word about this opportunity to design a commemorative coin that will pay tribute to the bravery, actions and sacrifices of Americans during the country’s involvement in World War I almost 100 years ago. The winner will not only have his or her initials on the final coin, but will also receive a $10,000 prize.
Be sure to visit this site, and follow the United States Mint on Twitter or Facebook for reminders and updates. We look forward to launching this exciting competition later this month and hope that many individuals will enter.
Why the American Numismatic Society is Open Access . . . and why your institution, learned society, publisher, etc., should be, too
Academic and scholarly publication is at a crossroads as publishers, authors, and institutions of research and higher learning consider both the financial and ‘moral’ implications of publishing new scholarship as Open Access. The American Numismatic Society (ANS) has adopted what some would consider a progressive approach, while others would find these points to simply be common sense and good manners. As you read the points below, I challenge you to formulate arguments against each one that does not include money. Profit and loss in academic publishing is a very real concern, but it can be demonstrated (and has been in my nine years of experience as an academic publisher) that publishing niche scholarship is (and likely always will be) a money-losing venture. Publication is often built into the mission statements of learned societies, and funding needs to be sought from sources beyond book sales and journal subscriptions to keep the publishing enterprise sustainable.
The ANS has addressed each of the following problems in its efforts to make published research open without taking a hit financially.
Problem: Gold Open Access
One method some publishers use to offset production costs is to charge those authors (or their institutions) who wish to make their research freely available online immediately upon publication instead of waiting some contractually agreed amount of time before being given permission to post the work the web or via a university repository. These costs often range from the hundreds into the low thousands of dollars (e.g., Maney Publishing’s “Article Publishing Charge” (APC) for immediate Open Access publication). Charging authors for Open Access creates an economic barrier to scholars, some of whom cannot afford the fee, and whose institutions may not have budgeted for such costs. Unaffiliated and independent scholars are especially affected by these fees, which they have to pay out-of-pocket and may even require securing a loan.
What the ANS is Doing About It: It is our opinion that authors (and their institutions) should never be charged to make their own research available to the world immediately upon publication.
Problem: Embargo Periods
Going hand-in-glove with “gold” Open Access is the common practice of an embargo period, which is the time (anywhere from one to five years in most cases) between when research is published and when an author can make that work freely available. The point of the embargo period is to allow the publisher to recover the production costs of that publication prior to making it available as Open Access. Authors are forbidden to post more than a citation or abstract, and their work is often locked behind a paywall until the embargo expires. Timely research becomes less so as long as the embargo period lasts, except to those readers who opt for early access. Scholars who wish to access that author’s work must either pay to access the publication, wait until the embargo ends, ask the author for a PDF offprint (which is normally forbidden) or their login credentials to a paywalled platform (even more forbidden). As with file-sharing of other media, many people tend to look for the free version of something they would otherwise have to pay for, thereby short-circuiting the embargo period and the paywall, which nets both the publisher and paywall provider nothing, i.e., the same amount they would make by giving away the published work.
What the ANS is Doing About It: Authors of ANS publications may place their published work wherever they like upon publication, and may assign to it whichever Creative Commons license that they are the most comfortable using. A brief word on the types of Creative Commons licenses follows below.
As stated above regarding embargos on published research, paywalls do little to discourage the exchange of files between colleagues, and also place a barrier in the way of scientific progress. Platforms such as JSTOR can strike a happy medium in curating content into packages to which institutional libraries may subscribe, thereby providing a revenue stream for publishers. That same content can be shared with individuals on a non-commercial basis provided the publisher has successfully negotiated a content-sharing agreement.
What the ANS is Doing About It: The ANS has such an agreement with JSTOR, and is making some of its publications available on that platform for library subscribers, while also making those same publications available for free to individuals via the Hathi Trust Digital Library and with our own Digital Library.
Problem: “Predatory” Publishers
Following the paywall model is the usury of so-called “predatory” publishers that charge libraries and individuals hundreds and even thousands of dollars to access newly published research. Authors should be wary of publishing in journals owned by these companies as their work will reach a limited set of eyes. If most authors found other journals in which to publish, the dearth of content would force predatory publishers to either change their business model or to close entirely. Libraries can also choose not to subscribe to those journals, favoring instead those with a more reasonable Open Access policy.
What the ANS is Doing About It:The ANS has no intention of partnering with any of the large publishing companies that choose to lock current research behind paywalls with formidable access costs.
Problem: Geography-Based Access
Some Open Access content is not globally available. Sometimes this is a technical issue, and, for some publishers, this is a conscious decision based on their understanding and implementation of copyright. Actively choosing to limit access to content that is otherwise open deprives international scholars of their ability to read that work freely, at which point they must resort to paying for access, or to bending the rules and asking colleagues for a free copy or access to something.
What the ANS is Doing About It: The ANS makes every effort to ensure that its Open Access content is available worldwide. Much of it is hosted via numismatics.org and various subdomains. Agreements signed with partners such as HathiTrust make sure that the content is available globally without restriction.
Problem: Profit-Based Publishing
One of the greatest mistakes a learned society or institution can make is to become focused on making its publications turn a profit. Scholarly publications typically cater to a niche market and sell dozens or occasionally hundreds of copies over a period of three years. Sales beyond three years of the original publication date are rare. If an organization recognizes the fact that it will realize little (or no) profit from the sale of what it publishes, it can strategize how to pay the not inconsiderable production costs. These costs can be built into annual budgets, can be inserted into grant applications for projects, and can be sought in the form of subventions. Basing choices of what to publish by what the publisher (or Board) thinks will sell can be a mistake, especially when what is to be published fulfills the mission of the parent institution.
What the ANS is Doing About It:The ANS favors a mission-based approach to publishing. It understands that some publications will never recover their production costs, but nevertheless that the content is exceedingly important in fulfilling the Society’s stated goals for research and dissemination of that research.
Problem: “Commercial” Publications
Non-profit, academic institutions historically have published scholarship as non-commercial ventures. As stated above, the publication of journals and monographs is hardly a money-making enterprise. Books and subscriptions are sold in order to recover some production costs. Recently one major international rights-holder updated its Terms of Service regarding the reproduction of its images in scholarly publications, classing journals and scholarly monographs as “commercial”, which then allows charging for image permissions. Typically a reciprocal relationship exists between institutions where no permissions fees are charged for non-commercial, scholarly, short-run publications. In switching the Terms of Service to “commercial”, the budget for publishing books or articles featuring images from one of these rights-holders expands by hundreds if not thousands of dollars. This charge represents another barrier to scholarship; publishers will simply go elsewhere for similar images. This also actually hurts the rights holder, in effect limiting wider access to its own holdings and hiding them behind a self-inflicted paywall.
What the ANS is Doing About It: The ANS will never class scholarly publications as “commercial,” and will not charge reproduction fees for the use of its images in scholarly publications.
Problem: Permissions Charges
Most academic publishers ask the authors to pay for their own image permissions. The publishers cannot themselves afford to pay the fees, so the charges get passed to the author. For many authors, however, many of their images can be used without any permissions fees because of the non-commercial nature of their work. Should an institution opt to charge an author for an image, it is possible that the author will opt to find a similar image elsewhere, or will choose not to use an image at all. Either way, the rights holder receives no revenue, and also loses whatever additional exposure it would have otherwise received via a credit line in the publication. Charging authors for image permissions further limits access to content that would otherwise be freely available.
What the ANS is Doing About It: The ANS will not charge authors for the use of its images in non-commercial publications.
Problem: Print-Only Publishing
Arguably the biggest roadblock to Open Access research is publishing solely in print. Publishing in print restricts access to the content locked on the pages and favors those readers with library access or the ability to purchase the publication. Print editions of scholarship, while useful to many, are themselves silos of information, unable to interact with anything other than the active reader. This is the opposite of Open Access. Making print editions available online as digital editions unlocks that content, making it searchable, and perhaps more importantly, gives the content the ability to link to any other data available openly online, as well as making itself available to be linked to from other online sources.
What the ANS is Doing About It: The ANS will continue to produce print editions of scholarship, but it will make digital editions of all of its publications past, present, and future available online as Open Access. Doing so allows the ANS to play well with others, to be a good academic citizen, and to contribute to the work of others. By sharing publications openly, this guarantees that multiple copies will be made and circulated thereby preventing loss of that content should something happen to the original publisher.
A Word on Creative Commons Licensing
There are several varieties of Creative Commons (CC) licensing available to authors and publishers that both protect and promote content on the Internet and elsewhere. Anything published as Open Access must have a CC license attached to it, otherwise the content is not free to use. Most Open Access publications have a CC-BY (users must cite the source) or CC-BY-NC (citation required, and must be used for non-commercial purposes only). On rare occasions, the most open CC license, CC0 (content may be used for any purpose, commercial or otherwise, with or without citation) is used. The ANS’s Open Access publications online are posted under a CC license, usually CC-BY or CC-BY-NC. Its publications on HathiTrust are posted as CC0. The ANS works with its authors to determine which CC license they are most comfortable with prior to posting their work online.
If Open Access publication of content is not part of your institution’s/society’s/publisher’s strategy, it should be. As authors and as consumers of content, it is within your rights to ask (and in some cases demand) that your research (or the scholarship you need) be made openly available online. Open Access does not require the cessation of the sale of that same content. Many readers still prefer to read printed books and journals, and will pay for them (or will ask their libraries to pay for them). Most readers prefer a suite of media with which to work, using print in concert with digital as they produce new scholarship. The end goal of the production of that scholarship should not be to make money, but instead to advance the humanities, arts, and sciences. The best way to do that is to make that scholarship available immediately to the world upon publication. Openly. The ANS hopes that other institutions, learned societies, and publishers will share in this approach to placing published work online without cumbersome restrictions. The Internet is genetically predisposed to facilitate such sharing, which makes it the greatest enabler of advancing our collective intellectual enterprise.
The American Numismatic Society is proud to now offer a new and much anticipated publication for sale, Medallic Art of the American Numismatic Society, 1865-2014, by Scott H. Miller. This is the second volume in our Studies in MedallicArtseries, and it looks at the history of medals issued by and for the ANS. The hardcover book features full-color photography and comprehensive histories of 60 medals, and includes discussions of additional medals that have been both rightly or wrongly attributed to the ANS.
The entries are supplemented with artist sketches, archival photos, and contemporary sources that bring the stories behind these medals to life. Four appendixes note the recipients of many of the medals, and provide a list of dies, hubs, galvanos, and casts of the medals in the ANS’s own collection.
Commenting on the new book, Andrew Reinhard, Director of Publications, said “The ANS has been a leader in the publication of art medals in the U.S. for the past 150 years. The issuance of medals has been at the forefront of out mission since its inception, and they are as important as coinage in terms of history and beauty. Working with Scott Miller to produce the book was a rewarding experience, and we are all very happy that it is now available to the public.”
Medallic Art of the American Numismatic Society, 1865-2014, is available for purchase on the ANS website or by calling Catherine DiTuri at 212-571-4470, ext. 117. List price is $100; ANS member may purchase it for $70.
Coins and video games were connected for the first time with the arrival of Computer Space (1971) and Pong (1972), the first coin-operated arcade cabinets. Players began to collect coins within games with the advent of Nintendo’s Mario Bros. (1982), and soon thereafter currency collected within the game could be spent by players to purchase anything from extra ‘lives’ to upgrades for weapons, armor, and more.
In the mid- to late 1990s with the arrival of the Internet at schools and at home, Massively Multiplayer Online games (MMOs) appeared, creating large virtual worlds that could be shared by hundreds of thousands of players simultaneously. With MMOs such as Ultima Online (1997) and EverQuest (1999), in-game economies began to appear, allowing players to exchange currency and to purchase items from others in the game.
World of Warcraft (2004) became the king of MMOs with over 10 million players worldwide. It saw the emergence of in-game personal banking, as well as shared accounts in the form of ‘Guild banks’ for teams of players. WoW also featured auction houses in each of its capital cities, where players could auction ‘loot’ found in the game to other players in exchange for gold, silver, and copper that were used as a shared currency throughout the open virtual world.
As MMOs such as World of Warcraft matured, players new to the game became frustrated by the amount of time needed to gain enough experience for their characters to get to the most challenging and rewarding content. Experienced players became upset with ‘grinding,’ which refers to having to complete repetitive quests or searches in order to earn money and resources to improve their characters’ abilities. This frustration led to a demand by players for both gold and artifacts, which a new class of players — gold famers — were able to provide. Gold farmers devoted their time in the game to finding valuable resources to sell to players for an exchange of real cash. Impatient players would also pay real money to others who would ‘level’ or advance their characters in order for them to reach the ‘cap’ or highest level.
To combat the gold farmers, on March 15, 2015, World of Warcraft debuted a “WoW Token” that players can buy from the game’s parent company, Blizzard Entertainment, for US$20. This can be used in the game to sell at auction for gold or it can be exchanged for 30 days of “free” playing time. Most MMOs are subscribe-to-play services with players incurring a monthly charge, so acquiring extra time with a token can theoretically save a player money over the long term. The WoW Token is virtual currency paid for with real money, and has no physical manifestation. Its behavior is similar to that of Bitcoin, although while sold at a fixed price in the real world, its market value fluctuates in the virtual one. As with Bitcoin, the WoW Token is depicted as flat and round, and in the case of World of Warcraft, it is decorated simply with the game’s characteristic colors and logo.
WoW is not the only shared world game that now allows players to finance their in-game activities with real-world currency. Assassin’s Creed: Unity sells “Helix Credits” for up to US$99 (for 20,000 of these credits) that can then be used to purchase exclusive gear for a player’s character, i.e., gear that is either unique or that must be earned through multiple hours, days, and weeks of actual gameplay. In the popular FIFA 15 soccer game, players can opt to buy Fifa Coins (aka FUT coins) for up to US$90 (for 1,000,000 coins), which allow for the purchase of elite soccer players to round out a team.
The intersection of real and virtual currency is a relatively new phenomenon, and one sponsored in large part by game-development juggernauts such as Electronic Arts. What used to be an imitation of life where players earned or found cash within a game to spend within that game, has reached out into the real world. Mechanisms are now in place that allow players to spend actual money outside of the game for intangibles inside of it. One wonders about the ethics of this intersection of real and virtual currencies, and if perhaps the spirit of fair play is violated. But then again, this habit is nothing new to the world of sports and of collecting of all types. If you have the coin, you can buy your way to the top to have the very best.
For more on numismatics and video games, see my article in the new digital edition of the ANS Magazine here.