American Numismatic Society moves, again, as real estate booms: Q. David Bowers

Headquarters flips real estate and rents spacious layout in former news printing plant
By , Special to Coin World
Published : 07/08/16
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The Joys of Collecting column from July 25, 2016, Weekly issue of Coin World:

The American Numismatic Society, founded in 1858, was homeless for the first 50 years of its existence — meeting here and there in various rooms around New York City. 

Then came Archer Huntington, heir to a railroad fortune, who paid for an elegant stone bank-like headquarters at 155th Street and Broadway in one of the most fashionable districts of the city. It opened in 1908. In 1930 an annex, virtually a clone of the first, was paid for by Huntington and opened that year. By the late 20th century the area had deteriorated, crime was often not far away, and through the gift of Donald G. Partrick, in 2003 the ANS moved into a six-story building at 140 William St. in the Financial District.

The anticipated sharp increase in visitors did not materialize. However, the building’s real estate value appreciated significantly.

The ANS sold it, banked a handsome sum, and moved to rent premises in the remodeled old 19-story Herald-Tribune printing plant at 75 Varick St. Today it has a beautiful layout of 20,000 square feet on the 11th floor, including a museum, the Harry Bass Jr. Memorial Library (the largest numismatic library in the world), a reception area, and facilities for research. The lease expires in 2028.

In recent times the ANS has held its grand event of the year, the Gala, in the Waldorf-Astoria.

Honored is a person who has made outstanding contributions to numismatics over a long period of time. This year the award went to John W. Adams. The Grand Ballroom was packed, at $500 per seat, with friends who came from all over America to honor John and his wife, Regina. Ken Bressett and Ursula Kampmann were given other honors. A memorable occasion. Now comes the news that the Waldorf, owned by a Chinese company, will close next spring for several years of remodeling.

In the meantime, the American Academy of Arts and Letters has made its headquarters in the two old ANS buildings on Broadway, and Pace University holds a long-term lease on 140 William St.

The ANS motto, “Parva Ne Pareant” translates to “Let not the little things perish,” the “little things” being, of course, coins, tokens, medals, and paper money. They are in good hands indeed with the society under the directorship of Dr. Ute Wartenberg-Kagan and her talented staff.

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