Earlier this month, deputy director Gilles Bransbourg and I had the honor of representing the ANS at the Early American Coppers Convention in Dayton, Ohio. The EAC, now with over 1,000 members, was formed in 1967 and currently focuses its attention on U.S. colonial and early state coins, cents and half cents (1793-1857), and Hard Times tokens.
The convention took place over the course of four days and featured a number of educational presentations, including an airing of the ANS’s 2018 Silvia Mani Hurter Memorial Lecture, by Huntington Award recipient Dr. John Kleeberg, entitled “Dr. William H. Sheldon, Ted Naftzger and the Large Cent Thefts” (video available here).
The ANS was particularly pleased to be able to cohost an event at the convention honoring legendary large cent collector and researcher Del Bland, who passed away last year at the age of 84. Del was a meticulous researcher with a keen eye for grading, and he made a massive contribution to our knowledge of United States numismatics. He began his research about fifty years ago, and his findings were published in 2000 as the condition census in the Encyclopedia of Early American Cents, which documented over 4,000 coins and included more than 25,000 individual entries. He continued his research well into the 2010s. In 2018, thanks to the contributions of generous donors, the ANS acquired Del’s vast large-cent research archive, nearly 300 ring-binders of material now available for researchers to use at the ANS Library and Archives.
The event honoring Del was a great success and featured reminiscences by Del’s long-time friend and early American copper specialist Denis Loring as well as Del’s sons, Larry and Gary (video available here).
None of it would have been possible without the help of convention co-chairs Ray Williams and Jack Young, and Jack’s wife, Laura, who was in charge of events. We would also particularly like to thank EAC president Bill Eckberg for arranging the event.
A while back I stumbled onto this great homemade card in the John Reilly, Jr. papers and have been waiting for February 3 to wish Mr. Reilly a happy 141st birthday. It was made by his daughter Frances (born in 1912) sometime in the late 1910s. Two decades later, in 1937, she would formally donate his Far Eastern collections to the ANS. During World War II, Frances was living in Hong Kong with her husband when the city fell to the Japanese. She was imprisoned there for nearly a year, finally coming home in late 1942. She died in 2001.
Remembered warmly as “Long John” by his Princeton classmates, the six-foot-four John Reilly once lent “his lanky southern paw to the varsity pitching staff” of the college. The result was one long inning, with 17 bases on balls and 23 hits—and a game that had to be called when they ran out of daylight (according to his class’s 50th anniversary reunion book, anyway). He was only associated with the ANS for twenty years or so (1910-1931), serving as treasurer and governor, but his contributions were enormous, and his presence can certainly be felt today, not only in the ANS’s prized collection of Far Eastern coins, but also in his personal papers and library of books that reside in the ANS Rare Book Room.
In the ANS Library, we have begun to catalog his mostly nineteenth-century books, producing records with titles and authors in both Roman and Chinese characters, and noting various forms, including English and pinyin. This work is being done by ANS member and volunteer Christopher (Zhengcheng) Li, a recent graduate of Sotheby’s Institute of Art. Christopher is making many interesting discoveries along the way, including some that update the findings of Arthur Braddan Coole, published in The Encyclopedia of Chinese Coins, 1967 (an updated version of his Bibliography on Far Eastern Numismatics, 1940), the standard bibliographical reference for Far Eastern numismatics.
It seems that Reilly’s library and papers never stop yielding treasures. I’ve written about his photographs of the World’s Columbian Exhibition of 1893, taken when he was seventeen years old. More on Reilly and his Far Eastern coin collection can be found here.