American Numismatic Society Medal Collection
The American Numismatic Society Medal Collection is one of the largest collections of medals and decorations in North America.
American Numismatic Society
The society (the ANS) was founded in 1858, and currently operates as a research museum.
The ANS website describes itself as “the preeminent national institution advancing the study and public appreciation of coins, currency, medals, orders and decorations”.
The numismatic collection consists of approximately 800,000 coins and related objects, including medals.
It attracts over 45,000 visitors per annum.
The medal collection
According to the ANS website, since the society’s foundation “medals and decorations have held an important role in its holdings and activities”.
The ANS describes its collection as “strong in the earliest struck pieces, especially sixteenth and seventeenth century silver from England, Germany, Netherlands and Italy.” It includes a large selection of Italian Renaissance Medals.
The collection also has medals of the Beaux-Arts era, particularly from France and Austria, and what the website calls a “definitive collection of the twentieth-century German medalist Karl Goetz.”
Amongst the ANS holdings of European decorations are an “outstanding” collection of insignia of foreign orders from the J. Sanford Saltus collection, according to the society website.
The ANS asserts that its collection is “clearly unsurpassed and of the greatest research utility” in the area of American medals, including a comprehensive set of Indian Peace Medals from the colonial period to the late nineteenth century.
In the area of political Americana, the ANS collection contains the issues of the Society of Medalists and the works of prominent American medalists such as Brenner and Weinman, acquired from their own private collections donated by heirs.
In 1967, the ANS acquired the J. Coolidge Hills Collection, consisting of 3,095 medals, decorations, and insignia.
This helped create what the website describes as “an exceptionally strong collection of American decorations, including military awards and the insignia of private societies.”
In October 2006, large numbers of medals from the collection were sold at auction by Morton and Eden, London.
The total sales amounted to £1,793,265. The highest price realised was £60,000 for an Order of St Anne, Civil Division, Grand Cross paste-set breast star with Crown appended.
It was unmarked, in gold with gold and enamelled centre measuring 71mm across. It was described as “better than very fine” by Morton and Eden and had an estimate of £4,000-5,000.