In last month's issue we published a press release from Ihe American Numismatic Society which publicly recognized some concern for Ihe Society's museum and its location. Members of the ANS have long been aware of the difficulties in making the present facility accessible and functional, not to mention popular. In decades past. when the collecting fraternity in New York was more active and Broadway at 155th was more hospitable, the ANS enjoyed an impressive home. Today, fewer collectors visit the facility, and those that do can't help but feel a little insecure. Not only is upper Manhattan less desirable to visit, but the entire city of New York is also becoming less accessible to the average collector. It's very difficult to find lodging for less than $100 per night, and the public transportation system is a disaster. Although taxis are the preferred mode of transportation within the city, anyone who has tried to flag down a taxi in Manhattan after 3:00 p.m. or on a rainy day will find them rather elusive. The only time that collectors normally visit New York is during a major numismatic event, and then it is extremely difficult to do anything productive at the museum because of the number of people seeking access and the limited staff to serve them.
It seems to us that the time has come to focus on the purpose of the ANS and embark upon a program of revitalization that will make the Society and its premier collection available to the rank and file of the collecting fraternity. Among the many considerations, accessibility must be a paramount factor. Apparently, there are at least some within the inner circle of the Society's governorship who perceive this need, or the suggestion of considering a move would never have been made public.
Feelings on this point are undoubtedly divided. If the membership does not speak out on this issue, the decision may well be driven by rather parochial interests. Our feeling is that the Society should establish a plan to relocate from its current facility to a site which is capable of promoting a broader range of activities and is likely to serve a larger segment of the membership. It may be that a more practical site is available within the city of New York, but we would encourage the ANS leadership to examine possible sites outside of the New York metropolitan area.
In the past year or two the ANS has become a sort of catalyst in bringing together the academic community and the collecting community within the United States. This is no small achievement. For as long as we can remember. there has been a chasm between the two communities- sometimes bordering on hostility. It was this "cold war" which actually served as the spawning ground for The Celator. Consequently, we are very pleased to see an organization of academic stature such as the ANS providing opportunities for interaction with serious collectors and for taking collectors seriously. The recent program at Berkeley, Ancient Coins and Ancient History: A Classical Numismatic Conference, is a prime example. Following on the heels of a successful program in Washington, D.C., the ANS teamed up with the Graduate Group in Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology at the University of California at Berkeley (isn't that a mouth full?), and with the San Francisco Ancient Numismatic Society (now that's better) to offer a day of fun and enlightenment.
The Berkeley conference was held at the Alumni House on campus and consisted of a very balanced program. Among the speakers were professionals from the University and the ANS, along with local collectors. Three Berkeley grad students, who had all completed the ANS summer seminar, were also included in the roster. Over 160 registrants took part, and the room was still full at the end of a very long day. I found the presentations interesting, digestible (for the most part), and quite respectable.
Another ANS program of this type is planned in conjunction with the Boston International Numismatic Convention in September. Of course, there is always value gained from hearing the presentations at such an event. but the greatest value is the interaction with academia that collectors have craved, and been denied, for so long. We heartily applaud the efforts of all involved, hut especially the effort or the ANS which truly offers the only possible bridge across a very traditional gap.
Since there are a few inches of space left here, we should mention that the often-requested Celator binders are now in stock. These are very attractive covers in a rich brown leatherette with gold stamping. Each binder holds 12 issues of The Celator. They may also be used for the Best of The Celator. Italo Vecchi recommended a supplier in England, and we found their work to be superb. We have about 50 binders currently on hand and have already placed a reorder due to their popularity. See the ad within for ordering info or give us a call.
We'll be in New York for the Spring International, Detroit for the ANA. Boston for their first International, and then the summer's over-Gee that went by fast! In the meantime, we'll be watching the mailbox for your point of view!