US Coins

American Numismatic Society starts a coin journal

The Joys of Collecting from the May 23, 2016, Weekly issue of Coin World:

I continue the story of the American Numismatic Society. Founded in 1858 by Augustus B. Sage, age 16, today the society is the oldest such organization in America and is as dynamic as ever. 

Last week I left off with 1866 and the just-launched American Journal of Numismatics, or AJN for short, the first coin magazine published in the United States. In 1954 or so I bought a set of hardbound copies from 1866 through the second decade of the 20th century (when regular publication ended). This was a real find. 

Today, you can read it for free on the Internet. Who would have ever imagined such a thing?

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The Newman Numismatic Portal, inaugurated last year, will probably make it possible to have thousands of catalogs and hundreds of books at your fingertips.

Still, it is nice to have hard copies. I don’t think my hardbound color-illustrated American Numismatical Manual, the first sizeable such reference book, published in America in 1859, can be replaced by electronics.

The series given the most space in the AJN in its early issues was that of Civil War tokens, called “copperheads” by many at the time.

Page after page was devoted to describing hundreds of varieties.

Popularity of various series changes. So far as is known, not a single numismatist collected Mint-marked coins in 1866! No one cared about coins minted in Charlotte, Dahlonega, New Orleans, or San Francisco!

The AJN, which came out each month, had its problems. The society was losing money. In 1867, editor Frank H. Norton, who had done a fine job but perhaps was overtaxed with the duty, stepped down and was replaced not by one but by three editors.

Perhaps he felt this was a tribute. Who knows? The triumvirate were Dr. George W. Perine as chief editor, Charles E. Anthon as literary editor, and E.Y. Ten Eyck as business editor. 

That did not help, the editorial trio did not work out, and further changes were made. Losses continued. 

The solution was to get rid of the costly AJN. Finally, in 1870 the magazine was passed off to the Boston Numismatic Society (founded in 1860) and the frequency changed to quarterly.

More changes were to come — all for the best. Hooray! See you next week.

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