Acquisitions and Deacquisitions

[Ratified by the ANS Board of Trustees June 16, 2012]





The American Numismatic Society (“ANS” or the “Society”), organized in 1858 and incorporated in 1865 in New York State, is a museum and research institute dedicated to the study of coins, currency, medals, tokens, and other related objects from all cultures, past and present (“numismatic materials”). The original objectives of the ANS, “the collection and preservation of coins and medals, the investigation of matters connected therewith, and the popularization of the science of Numismatics,” have evolved into the mission approved by the ANS Board of Trustees on 10/29/2016:

The mission of The American Numismatic Society shall be to promote and advance the study, research, and appreciation of numismatics.

The purpose of the ANS Collections Management Policy (the “Policy”) is to document and establish the procedures and criteria for the acquisition, preservation, and management of the Society’s collections in a manner that reflects the Society’s mission and complies with all applicable laws and regulations. The Policy expresses the duties and responsibilities of the Society and its Trustees, Executive Director, professional staff, employees, and volunteers regarding the management of the Society’s collections.


General Principles

The ANS may acquire numismatic materials for its collections by donation, bequest, purchase, exchange, or any other legal means. All acquisitions shall be catalogued and recorded in the Society’s collection records pursuant to its registration procedures. All acquisitions shall be properly maintained, cared for, preserved, and archived according to established practices and procedures.

The Society shall not authenticate, evaluate, grade, or appraise donations for donors. Donors shall be responsible for obtaining independent, qualified appraisals for tax purposes, pursuant to applicable IRS guidelines. Donors should be discouraged from making restrictions on gifts. The ANS shall only acquire numismatic materials that comport with the Society’s mission, are in acceptable condition, and for which the ANS has the financial resources to conserve and maintain. The ANS is dedicated to the lawful collection, legitimate trade, and scholarly research of numismatic materials. The ANS supports the spirit and intent of the UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illegal Import, Export, and Transfer of Cultural Property of November 14, 1970. The Society shall not knowingly or willfully acquire, purchase, or exhibit numismatic materials that have been unlawfully removed from archaeological sites, stolen from public or private collections, exported from their country of modern discovery in contravention of that country’s laws, or otherwise imported into the United States in contravention of any State or Federal laws.

Acquisition Procedures

Prior to acquisition of numismatic materials, the ANS shall conduct reasonable independent research and make reasonable efforts to gather from sellers or donors all available information and proper written documentation regarding the provenance, including but not limited to publication history, exhibition history, and representations and warranties of good title. Where appropriate, the ANS shall also, prior to acquisition, request evidence or documentation from sellers and donors that numismatic materials were legally exported from their country of modern discovery and legally imported into the United States. In the case of ancient numismatic materials, the ANS shall rigorously research their provenance prior to acquisition to determine if clear and legal title may be obtained. All materials obtained in connection with any acquisition shall be maintained in the ANS’s collection records.

The ANS recognizes that even after research, many numismatic materials, including coins in private collections, may lack a complete ownership or provenance history. In the absence of conclusive evidence that the item was stolen, illegally exported, or illegally imported, the Society shall make a carefully considered decision as to whether the item may be acquired. If the Society decides to acquire the item, it shall publish information regarding the acquisition on the Society’s website and conduct ongoing provenance research for the item as appropriate. In the event that the Society receives competing claims of ownership for numismatic materials in the Society’s collections, the Society shall diligently consider and assess the claims in a respectful, impartial, and transparent manner. Should the Society determine that there is convincing evidence that the item was unlawfully acquired, imported, or exported, the Society shall seek to resolve the matter in an equitable, appropriate, and mutually agreeable manner for all concerned parties. Once the ANS has identified numismatic materials it intends to acquire, the Trustees, the Executive Director, and professional staff shall be notified of the ANS’s intentions and shall not compete with the ANS to acquire such materials.


The ANS may determine that certain donations of numismatic and other materials are not appropriate for incorporation into the ANS’s collections. These items shall be so designated at the time they are received by the ANS. Records of such items shall be kept but they shall be catalogued separately from the ANS’s collections and shall not be subject to the procedures for deaccessioning. At the time of donation, the ANS shall obtain written representations and warranties of good title from the donors. Where warranted by the value or type of these numismatic and other materials, the ANS shall, prior to acceptance and sale of the items, apply the same level of due diligence as set forth above for items to be incorporated into the ANS’s collections. Upon acceptance, the ANS shall send the donor written notification acknowledging the gift and informing the donor of the ANS’s intention to sell the donated material.


General Principles and Deaccessioning Criteria

The ANS acts as steward of numismatic materials for the benefit of society and is mindful of its responsibilities to donors, members, and the public. In general, it is the ANS’s intention that acquisitions be given a permanent place in its collections. From time to time, however, the Board of Trustees may assess whether it is appropriate, pursuant to ANS By-Laws and this Policy, to deaccession certain items in the Society’s collections. An item may be considered for deaccession based upon a written memorandum to or by the Executive Director, explaining the reasons for the proposed deaccession, including but not limited to the criteria stated below. Each item recommended for deaccession shall be carefully scrutinized to balance the best interests of the Society, the public, and the numismatic community. Deaccession of numismatic materials in the Society’s collections shall be made after careful consideration of the Society’s mission and this Policy. The Society and the Board of Trustees shall act in a forthright and transparent manner concerning items to be deaccessioned.

The Board of Trustees recognizes its responsibility to ensure that the deaccession of numismatic materials belonging to the ANS is handled in an ethical and transparent manner. In accordance with the Society’s mission, it shall take into consideration certain criteria, set forth below:

• Whether there are duplicates or multiples of items that will remain in the Society’s collections;
• Whether the item’s quality or value is inferior to similar items in the Society’s collections;
• Whether the deaccession of the item would permit the ANS to acquire a superior item for its collections;
• Whether the item is relevant or useful to the mission of the ANS;
• Whether the deaccession of the item would compromise ongoing research or study;
• Whether the item has substantially deteriorated or is beyond safe and responsible restoration;
• Whether proper preservation of the item is beyond the Society’s capabilities;
• Whether the item has clear, legal title or complies with governing laws, treaties, and policies on cultural property;
• Whether the item would be more appropriately placed in another institution’s collection.

Where an item’s authenticity, attribution, or date is in question, the Society may consider its deaccession, provided this can be accomplished in a responsible manner without confusion to a potential purchaser. Additional criteria may be considered as the Board of Trustees deems appropriate.

Deaccessioning Procedures

The Executive Director shall document his or her decision in a recommendation to the Board of Trustees, explaining the reasons for the proposed deaccession, including photographs or descriptions of the numismatic materials recommended for deaccession. Before an item is recommended for deaccession, the ANS shall determine whether there are any legal impediments to such action, such as restrictions on gifts or agreements requiring its return to the donor. All deaccessions shall comply with any restrictions on gifts.

The Board of Trustees may, with the advice of the Executive Director, arrange for an appraisal of such items. The Board of Trustees may delegate authority to the Executive Director, the Librarian, and the curators, in their respective fields, to recommend the deaccession of numismatic materials meeting one or more of the criteria set forth above, or other reasons fully explained and not inconsistent with the Society’s mission or this Policy.

The Board shall, with the advice of the Executive Director, in all cases reasonably attempt to arrange for, in order of preference:

• the possible reacquisition by the donor at an agreed upon price to be determined by a qualified, independent appraiser;
• the gift, exchange, or sale of numismatic materials to affiliated organizations with comparable policies and missions;
• the sale, based on arms-length, competitive terms, conditions, and arrangements most beneficial to the Society, through accredited and licensed auctioneers;
• the sale to independent dealers or other individuals who are not Trustees, by way of commission or outright sale, based on arms-length, competitive terms, conditions, and arrangements most beneficial to the Society.
It shall not be considered in contravention of this Policy for those auctioneers or dealers chosenby competitive analysis to be Fellows or members of the Society. In the case of an auctioneer or dealer who sits on the Board of Trustees, he or she shall recuse himself or herself from the deliberations leading to deaccession and sale.

The Executive Director, professional staff, employees, volunteers, and members of the immediate family of such individuals may not purchase directly or indirectly (including at public auction) any deaccessioned item from the Society’s collections. Any member of the Board of Trustees who may have an interest in acquiring any deaccessioned item shall recuse himself or herself from participation in any part of the decision regarding the deaccession, including any discussions about the sale of deaccessioned items. No member of the Board of Trustees may acquire a deaccessioned item or bid on a deaccessioned item if he or she has proprietary information regarding the terms and conditions of the sale. All numismatic materials may be advertised and labeled as formerly in or from “the collection of the American Numismatic Society” or its practical equivalent.

Records of all deaccessions, including memoranda of recommendations, photographs, reports, minutes, and sales transactions, shall be maintained in the ANS’s permanent records. At the Annual Meeting of the Society, a report shall be made by the Executive Director regarding any deaccessions from the preceding year.

All receipts from the sale of deaccessioned publications, books, and numismatic materials shall be applied toward the augmentation or direct care of the Society’s numismatic and library collections.


Outgoing Loans

From time to time, the Society may lend items from its collections to qualified institutions (the “Borrower”) for educational and scholarly purposes and to further its mission of providing public access to historical and significant numismatic materials. These loans shall be consistent with the Society’s mission and dedication to long-term conservation of the objects.

Each loan shall be for a specified period of time and the condition of each item shall be properly documented in writing prior to its loan, according to established practice and procedures. Each loan must be secured by a written loan agreement, executed by the Society and its Borrower prior to shipment. Outgoing loans shall be insured by the Borrower, and insurance values shall be consistent with fair market value. While on loan, numismatic materials shall not be cleaned, restored, or treated without the ANS’s prior written consent, except in emergencies where delays would exacerbate damage to an item. Long-term loans shall be reviewed annually for return or extension of the loan period.

Incoming Loans

The Society may accept temporary custody of numismatic materials for purposes of examination, identification, or consideration as a purchase or gift. Such items shall be cared for, preserved, and maintained according to established practices and procedures. In general, the Museum shall avoid retaining these items in storage for extended periods of time alongside items in the Society’s permanent collections, unless the Society intends to formally acquire the items. The Society shall provide insurance for numismatic materials that remain within the Society’s custody, possession, and control on its premises.


The Society shall periodically review its Collections Management Policy for compliance and effectiveness. Changes may be recommended, and in considering whether to adopt such changes, the Society shall be guided by current guidelines set forth by the American Association of Museums.
Compliance Procedures