The Joys of Collecting Column from the July 2016 Monthly issue of Coin World:
The American Numismatic Society, founded in 1858, has had its share of ups and downs — into the late 19th century, when matters became uncertain.
The nation was in a recession, the hobby market had slumped, the American Numismatic Association had almost expired, and the future of the ANS was uncertain. Early into the 20th century it was suggested that it merge with the New-York Historical Society. Enter an angel in the form of Archer M. Huntington, heir to the Southern Pacific Railroad fortune.
A dedicated and serious numismatist, Huntington became president of the ANS and paid for its headquarters. In 1908 a temple-like building was opened at 155th Street and Broadway in New York City, a center of high society at the time.
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Archer was busy with other matters from the late 1910s into the 1920s and paid less attention to the ANS, although he did make numerous contributions. Along the way in 1923 he married Anna Hyatt, a talented sculptor.
The ANS has been viewed by some as an ivory-tower, so to speak, with emphasis on art, history and study, while the ANA has played to the masses.
A few years later Moritz Wormser, who had served multiple terms as president of the ANA, had this to say those who thought that articles in The Numismatist should be more technical:
“Our critics also must emphatically understand that the ANA is never aimed particularly at a high scholarly standard. For scholasticism in numismatics, as it might be called, we would cheerfully refer our critics to the American Numismatic Society, which has the equipment and the endowment for scholarly work.”
In the meantime Huntington continued to support the ANS. It was spectacularly blessed (shades of 1908) when on Nov. 13, 1930 — never mind that the Depression was in full swing — a beautiful new annex about doubling the size of the headquarters building was dedicated in a special ceremony.