US Coins

Betts medals book in ANS series ready for release

The book “The Early Betts Medal Companion: Medals of America’s Discovery and Colonization (1491-1737)” is the latest volume in the American Numismatic Society Studies in Medallic Art series.

Image courtesy of American Numismatic Society.

The latest volume of the American Numismatic Society’s Studies in Medallic Art series has been published.

The Early Betts Medal Companion: Medals of America’s Discovery and Colonization (1492–1737) was written by Christopher R. McDowell — ANS fellow, editor of the Journal of Early American Numismatics, and President of the Colonial Coin Collectors Club.

The book brings to fruition the dream of 19th century numismatist Charles Wyllys Betts to illustrate American colonial history through contemporary medals. Focusing on medals from the period of discovery through the period of colonization of the New World, McDowell’s volume is a companion to Betts’s classic reference, American Colonial History Illustrated by Contemporary Medals. This is the first of what is expected to be three volumes by McDowell concerning Betts medals.

Updated information

Since Betts’ text first appeared posthumously in 1894, new information has come to light regarding each medal he enumerated. The Early Betts Medal Companion updates and illustrates each listing in the first two chapters of Betts, known to collectors and researchers as Betts 1 to Betts 170. Although Betts stated that his work was an “illustrated” history, very few actual illustrations or drawings were included in the original. With only a few exceptions, every Betts medal discussed is illustrated here, many for the first time. In addition, the contextual history of each medal is told, explaining their design and importance. Finally, pricing information is included for every medal for which pricing is available.

Comprehensive resource

Jesse Kraft, ANS Resolute Americana Assistant Curator of American Numismatics, noted, “McDowell provides the most comprehensive resource on the subject of Betts medals. This book provides much-needed and up-to-date context to Betts’ work, ranging from U.S., North American, and world history to the evolution of American numismatics and, of course, about the medals themselves. Perhaps most striking about the updated understanding of this material is that some of the medals in the Betts book never even existed. Without McDowell’s meticulous research, future generations of numismatists would still be searching for them. For McDowell, this truly is a labor of love.”

The cost of the book is $125 plus shipping and handling, with ANS members receiving 30% off at checkout for the member cost of $87.50. Pre-ordering is now open for The Early Betts Medal Companion, through the ANS distributor, Casemate Academic at

For more information about the Medallic Art series, contact the American Numismatic Society directly at

Books will ship to customers in December.

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