Review of The American Numismatic Society (ANS) Web Page

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The American Numismatic Society (ANS) Web Page

This is probably the best designed numismatic web-page on the internet, organized by the preeminent American institution advancing the study of coins, medals, and related objects worldwide. The American Numismatic Society has offered, and one hopes that it will continue to offer in the future, inimitable services to the field of numismatics. It owns and maintains one of the largest and finest coin collections in the world, as well as an important library. It has also supported scholarly research and numismatic publications, as well as organized educational events and programs, the most prominent of which is the annual summer Graduate Seminar in Numismatics.

The structure of this web page is simple and effective. Below the initial image, featuring a selection of coins representing various periods, a number of links offer information on membership in the society, its mission, and contact information. Further links provide news of the society and a frequently updated list of the society's events for the next few months, lectures, exhibitions, and awards. Of particular interest to numismatists, collectors, and others interested in coins and economic history is the search engine providing access to the curatorial database of the society's holdings; the Numismatic Literature; and the society's on-line library catalogue.

A new search engine associated with the society's coin database was introduced in 1999, and it allows very complex and detailed searches according to keyword, fields, and accession number of a coin. Further links in the page allow a view of coin lists according to mint and region. An earlier version of the ANS search tools for the curatorial database is still available through the Harry Bass Research Foundation (HBRF). Although the curatorial database had not been completed at the time of this review (2 May 2000), it is currently under expansion, the latest update dating to January 15, 2000. An important feature that is provided by the site's search tools is the possibility to search on-line the ANS library holdings and the Numismatic Literature. The latter biannual publication is now available in a database of the numismatic annotated bibliography. Work on both databases is still in progress, and they are frequently updated.

Returning to the main ANS home page, visitors can explore four more columns of links. The first one (About the ANS) provides links pertaining to the history of the society, its administration, calendar of events, its educational programs and fellowships, and the Graduate Seminar. A list of the ANS publications, which can be ordered on-line, can be found under the link entitled "store." Under the column entitled "departments," one can access information on the member services of the society, the history and organization of the various curatorial departments, and the library. Ordering information from the photographic department can also be found there. No on-line photographic orders are available at this time.

Under the list of "Collections," information is provided on the individual collections of the ANS from various periods and regions: Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Islamic, East Asian, South Asian, Medieval, Medals and Decorations, Modern, and Latin American. A virtual museum can be visited when clicking on the link entitled "Coin Images." Visitors can read the ambitious plans of the society to build a digital image archive which will be available on-line. To demonstrate the potential and the importance of such a scheme, a few magnificent examples of coins from the collection are illustrated, and these can be viewed in their actual size or blown up. Such a tool will be invaluable for all scholars working on numismatics, especially because only a fraction of the ANS collection has been published in the Sylloge Numorum Graecorum so far. This may also be the way that many museums worldwide may choose in the future to make their numismatic holdings available to as many scholars as possible.

A fourth list of links entitled "On-line resources" offers an overview of the updates of this web-page (What's New); provides information on the fund-raising activities of the society; and includes a list of the electronic addresses of all current ANS members. Issues of the ANS Newsletter, from 1996 to date are also available on-line, but it is unclear whether there are plans to scan, or otherwise enter, the texts of previous issues as well. The programs of the annual Coinage of the Americas Conference (COAC) can also be consulted. A comprehensive list of all important numismatic resources on the internet is also given. These include links to American and foreign mints; numismatic organizations; home pages of numismatic museums worldwide; virtual galleries of non-commercial numismatic sites; periodicals; and other publications, including auction catalogues.

The American Numismatic Society also provides web-space for the International Numismatic Commission, an organization which brings together scholars and institutions specializing in the field of numismatics. It also organizes the International Numismatic Congress every six years.

The page's latest updates are clearly indicated the initial page. What is especially helpful in keeping up with the frequent updates of this web-page in progress is the fact that a link to Mind-It is provided. This is a free web-page tracking service that notifies interested parties on changes of their favorite web-pages. Registration is simple and can be completed from the ANS web page by entering one's e-mail address. The company's strict policy on privacy protects those using this service from spam mail, as this reviewer was able to discover.

In conclusion then, this is an admirable piece of work in progress, providing services to numismatists and collectors. Apart from offering general information on the history of the institution, its activities, and its important educational programs, it also provides access to its numismatic collections, library, and new numismatic publications through the use of very sophisticated search engines. Its collection of important numismatic links is the only one known to this reviewer that is available on-line. It should constitute an example to be followed by other numismatic collections worldwide.

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