By Charles Morgan for CoinWeek …..
“This is the age of collections and the spirit of gathering together and classifying is abroad“- Dr. George F. Heath
The media landscape has changed drastically since Dr. Heath posed the question “What is the matter with having an American Numismatic Association?”
In recent years, collectors have posed a similarly-worded yet entirely different question: What’s the matter with the American Numismatic Association?
There have been more than a few accusations and derogatory comments thrown at the ANA in recent years, as it has often seemed like a continuous stream of questionable decisions have been made, by a Board of Governors known more for its obstinacy than its ability to get things done. And as lawsuits and settlements piled up, the number of paying members went down.
For many of us in the hobby (myself included), it was heartbreaking to see. We always hoped that the ANA could make things right and become the organization we believed it could be.
Thankfully, the tide started to turn a few years ago.
With a lost decade behind us, and lingering issues and court cases settled, a sense of day-to-day normalcy has returned. Under new leadership, we are starting to see concrete actions being taken and a forward-looking vision as to where the ANA fits into the landscape of the hobby.
In 2014 the ANA reinvented its website and made a solid step forward, but today it upped the ante by providing members with more than 120 years worth of the American Numismatic Association’s central member benefit – The Numismatist – in digital form.
The project represents a partnership between the ANA and Walsworth Publishing Company. The digital versions of The Numismatist are completely searchable, easily accessible, and rendered in high definition.
As a numismatic bibliophile, I cannot begin to tabulate how much my desire to have a complete set of the magazine has cost me financially. Not only do I have boxes of issues waiting to be hand-bound, but I also have three bookshelves devoted to the magazine. I refer to these back issues with frightening regularity.
Back catalogs of coin periodicals are usually fodder for the most hardcore among us, but the ease with which this content can now be delivered at the push of a button means that collectors of all skill levels can discover valuable information about their favorite coins or personalities. This is a tangible benefit to ANA members. One that, when coupled with the actual value of the magazine’s contemporary issues, makes membership well worth the price.
Let’s hope that today’s collectors grow to appreciate this tremendous asset and come to realize that the next hundred years of the ANA’s story depends on them.
Must Read Issues:
The Numismatist’s back catalog is immense and provides hour and hour of reading material. Here are some of CoinWeek’s favorite issues from the hobby’s journal of record:
September – October 1888
The issue that started it all. The American Numismatist, as it was called, basked in its American-ness – “The day is coming when the old world will study from American masters; when pilgrimages will be to the Occident rather than the Orient”. Heath praised the creation of the Smithsonian Institution and extolled America’s up-and-coming cultural centers, its cities and public institutions.
“In God We Trust” on the Lincoln cent. The long-anticipated coin’s release was pushed back, it seems, due to President Taft’s desire to have the national motto inscribed upon the coin’s obverse. Reading contemporaneous reports of the release of iconic American coin designs in Numismatist back issues is a very specific type of trolling. CoinWeek recommends!
The Issues of 1964
The assassination of President John F. Kennedy occurred at the height of the 1960s coin boom. The Kennedy half dollar forever ties the president to numismatics and coverage in The Numismatist of the event throughout 1964 (starting in January) shows to what extent the coin market had become modernized and commercialized.
March 1975 onward – specifically everything David L. Ganz ever wrote about Bicentennial Coinage
In the mid-1970s, numismatist David L. Ganz taught a master class in how to write about contemporary numismatic topics. No series of articles before or since compares to this multi-part epic. The Numismatist magazine of the mid-1970s to the mid-’80s continues to serve as the gold standard of what the magazine could be in the right hands and with the right contributors.
Want more great Numismatist moments? Read my previous article From the Vaults: Four Essential Back Issues of The Numismatist.
Back Issues of The Numismatist Currently Available on eBay