Over the past 140 years the Smithsonian has become an American fascination: I have often heard visitors say: "My father brought me to Washington when I was just a kid to show me the Smithsonian, we would spend days wandering through its buildings - I still treasure that experience." But only few remember seeing any coin exhibits during their visits. This may lead some people to presume that the Smithsonian did not have a coin collection or coin exhibits until recently. In fact, coins were among some of the earliest gifts to this old, venerable institution which sprung up on the Mall in Washington as the realization of a dream of a noble if not somewhat eccentric English gentleman and scientist James Smithson (Figure 1). He bequeathed, without having ever seen or set foot on American soil, his entire fortune to the United States to promote "the increase and diffusion of knowledge." In 1838, nine years after his death, the United States Government received almost 105,000 English gold sovereigns, the equivalent of over half a million dollars for the creation of such an institution. After long and venturesome tribulations, the Smithsonian Institution was founded in 1846, and the first building, the so-called "Castle", a Tudor-styled red-brick building, was built one year later on the Mall. Other buildings were to follow, among them the "Arts and Industries Building", created to house primarily the many objects left after the closing of the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition in 1876.
In the 1880s the first larger coin exhibits were arranged in the halls of this building. For the most part these exhibits were of a more temporary character, until in about 1914, when a sizable exhibit of about six-thousand coins, medals and tokens was put on view in twenty-seven flat-top cases. About ten years later the exhibit cases from the Philadelphia Mint and 22,000 numismatic items were transferred to Washington. This was to form the nucleus of the numismatic exhibit until, in 1961, when Dr. Vladimir Clain-Stefanelli and I installed the first modernized exhibit of numismatic items in the same halls of the Arts and Industries Building. With the completion of the new building on Constitution Avenue, originally named "The National Museum of History and Technology", which was recently renamed "National Museum of American History", the National Numismatic Collection moved to its present home, in 1964. Changes in the general exhibit layouts of many of the halls on the third floor of this Museum necessitated yet another move and a complete redesign of the "Coin Hall" during 1971/72. It was an arduous task, since we had to fit into the newly allocated space in the north corner of the same floor an exhibit much too extensive for the area assigned. The exceptional talent of the designer, Alfred McAdams, transformed this challenge into a great success. We produced a very attractive new exhibit which satisfied our plans for "the diffusion of numismatics" and the education of the young collectors. We were able to include even a special "Children's Corner" with a fresco depicting money scenes from fairy tales, a "wishing well", and three educational slide shows.
The exhibit represents only a glimpse of our numismatic treasures. Many have wondered if the exhibit included the entire holdings of the Smithsonian collection, or whether the recesses of our vault contained many other treasures accumulated over a period of more than a hundred-fifty years. Some wondered who the benefactors were, who contributed to this wealth, making it one of the richest and largest coin collections of the world.
As a memorable start I would like to mention two English gold sovereigns, dated 1838, (Figure 2), the only survivors of the original 105-thousand pieces of the Smithsonian bequest. Among the coins that came to the Smithsonian in its early years were coins collected by local Washington citizens who founded scholarly organizations, among which were the "Columbia Institution for the Promoting of Arts and Sciences", in 1816, the "National Institution", in 1840, and "John Varden's Washington Museum", in 1836. Coins were often mentioned in the diaries and inventories of these early "curio cabinets". An example: Varden's entry for January 1830 mentions twenty coins among which was a six-pence piece of England "made in 1567". Other entries were more vaguely worded. In September 1838 Varden entered: "three pieces of old coin", or in November of the same year he receive from Col. J.H. Hook, "13 pieces Contenental (sic)Money Paid to the Officers of the US States Army". As terse and unprofessional as these entries might seem, they do indicate an interesting aspect of the origins of coin collecting in the United States; some people had old mementos among their trinkets, as the old colonel who kept, most likely, part of his pay as a young officer in the Continental Army during the Revolution; others, obviously, saved coins as numismatic items. The records of the "National Institute of Washington (1841-1846) mention Greek and Roman coins, medieval pieces, American and foreign medals, and even a Russian platinum coin.
Many prominent personalities of the period were connected with these donations: the Honorable Joel Robert Poinsett (1779-1851), Secretary of War during the 1837-41 period; G. Read, U.S. Consul at Malaga; Mr. Charles Rhind, former U.S. Commissioner to Turkey; John P. Brown, the "First Dragoman" in Constantinople, who donated a large number of Turkish coins; and some officers of the "Mediterranean Squadron". The intelectual life was not stagnant in Washington in the 1840s; there was considerable activity as a result of contacts with foreign countries. Prominent French medallists of that period, such as jean Jacques Barre, Chief Engraver of the Paris Mint, Jacques Ed. Gatteaux and Jean François A. Bovy, the famous Swiss medallist, were corresponding members of the Institute. Noted numismatic scholars such as the famous Polish medievalist Joachim Lelewel and the French François Lenormant, had established ties to the Washington Institute. It is amazing to note how stimulating the early numismatic activities were; though the collections barely surpassed mediocrity, the interest which collectors showed for history and for numismatics was enormously diversified, and expanded far beyond the borders of their country.
An interesting footnote to this activity is the correspondance in 1845 and 1846 of D.C. Groux, noted collector of the time, who offered his "valuable cabinet of coins and medals", numbering 8,272 pieces, for sale "at a low price" to the Institute. Unfortunately, the Institute, as well as its successor, the Smithsonian, did not have the necessary funds to take advantage of this favorable offer. Nevertheless the collection grew; in the 1850s more varied numismatic items were added: brick-tea from the province of Yunnan; "prepared skins, wampum... and claws of the grizzly bear", were to be exhibited, in 1855, beside a collection of ancient coins "collected in different parts of Europe by Thomas Munroe, while aide to the Emperor of Russia, and presented by his father."
While many of these coins might have enriched the numismatic collections of the Smithsonian after its merger with the National Institute, the true identities for the most part have vanished in the nebulous records of the past. For almost half a century the coin collection was under the care of Theodore T. Belote, Curator of the Division of History (1909-1948), who did his best to dedicate some of his time for the care of the coin collection. it is little wonder that the records of the early history of this collection are scanty. It was only in 1948 that a professional numismatist joined the Smithsonian staff. Up to that period coins were regarded only as an aggregate to the historical collections and exhibits.
Beginning in the 1880s coins would make only occasional appearances in the exhibit halls of the Arts and Industries Building. By then the Smithsonian coin collection had acquired sufficient fame to attract important donations. One such was a presentation, in 1886, by Mrs. Julia Dent Grant, the widow of President Ulysses S. Grant, of early Japanese gold coins, which had been a gift presented by the Japanese government to the President, "as a slight return for your liberality and thoughtfulness in sending to His Imperial Majesty one of your blooded horses". This group of unusual Japanese coins is still part of our permanent exhibit, and is shown in the present Coin Hall. Barely one decade later, a world famous collection of Far Eastern pieces joined the other Oriental group: in 1897, George Bunker Glover bequeathed over 2,000 coins of China, Japan, Korea, Siam and Annam; this collection was described in a three-volume study by Sir James Haldane Stewart Lockhart.
Theodore Belote, who had a special interest in numismatics, succeeded in giving coins a more prominent exposure, and under his care a permanent "Coin Hall" was created in the Arts and Industries Building. This curator has to be credited also with one of the most substantial additions to the numismatic collection in that early period, namely the Mint Collection.
On June 13, 1923, "23 cases containing the numismatic collection of this Mint" were transfered to the National Museum of the Smithsonian. Under the aegis of Andrew W. Mellon, Secretary of the Treasury, a total of 18,324 coins, tokens and medals from the Mint at Philadelphia were moved to Washington. "This is a national collection, and therefore most appropriate for exhibition in the National Museum, where it will open to a larger public", said a press release of the Mint in April 1923. And indeed, this collection, exhibited up to 1961 in the Arts and Industries Building, in cases manufactured by the Mint, was viewed by hundreds of millions of people; the number of visitors to any Smithsonian building would often exceed 20,000 in one day.
The wealth of this Mint collection can hardly be described: its perimeter is world-wide; its fame is based on unparalleled United States rarities (Figure 4), among which are the Brasher doubloon of 1787, the half eagle of 1822 (Figure 3), two 1804-dollars (Figures 6 & 7), the 1838 proof half dollar struck at the New Orleans Mint, the first 50-cent piece issued by a branch mint, the unique 1849 double eagle struck in San Francisco (Figure 5) - the model for the first double eagle struck in 1850 -, the unique 1860 pattern double eagle with a reverse design by Anthony Paquet, two different 1877 fifty-dollar gold patterns (Figure 8), the only known in gold; the 1907 experimental double eagle by Augustus Saint Gaudens, struck on a 10-dollar-sized planchet (Figure 9). These are only a few among the most prominent rarities in the United States series. Equally impressive are some ancient Roman, Byzantine, European and Latin American rarities. As a very rare and highly unusual coin I would like to cite the Australian half ounce and two-ounce gold tokens issued in 1853 by the "Kangaroo Office" of Victoria (Figure 10).
The Mint Collection, at first though only a haphazardly assembled group of coins, had among its care-takers a few extraordinarily gifted people. The names of Adam Eckfeldt, William E. Du Bois and Jacob R. Eckfeldt, as well as its Curator, Dr. Thomas L. Comparette, are at the foundation of this unique collection. Its beginnings were in the early days of the Mint, in 1792-93, when the Chief Coiner, Adam Eckfeldt, "led as well by his own taste as by the expectation that a conservatory would some day be established, took pains to preserve master-coins of the different annual issues of the Mint, and to retain some of the finest foreign specimens, as they appeared in deposit for re-coinage." Aided later by an annual appropriation and by the superb knowledge of a real scholar, its Curator Comparette, from 1905 to 1922, the collection developed into a real treasure chest. This addition to the Smithsonian did indeed, as Belote predicted, "place the National Museum in the front rank of the museums of the world as the science of numismatics is concerned."
As a result of private and government intervention numismatics was given an official recognition and, in 1948, the Division of Numismatics was formally established with a Curator of its own. Stuart Mosher, the editor of the Numismatist, held the position from 1948 to his death, in the spring of 1956. The highlight of his tenure was the addition of the Paul A. Straub collection of 1,793 gold and 3,855 silver coins of modern Europe. Through this collection which contained an excellent selection of rare and beautiful coins, the Smithsonian Numismatic Division entered competitively into the field of international numismatics.
I still have a vivid recollection of Mr. Straub's annual visits to his collection. He tried constantly to improve it so that: "Uncle Sam could be proud of them" as he liked to say so often with a glitter of pride in his eyes. My husband and I used to meet at the Willard Hotel with Mr. Straub for lunch and a very lively conversation. The nonagenarian could easily entertain after a train ride from New York. My husband and I were very saddened when these visits came to an end in 1958, the year Mr. Straub passed away at the age of 93. I can still remember the story of his beginning love affair with coins: "I became interested in coins in 1930 while in Dresden on a business trip with some friends... We passed the windows of a coin dealer who displayed a couple of 10-ducat pieces of 1630... We stepped in to see whether he had any United States gold dollars. He did, and my friends bought a few at 7 marks, or $1.75 each. On our way out, the dealer tried to sell me the 10-ducat pieces. Quite surprised at his proposition, I told him I did not want them, and knew no one who might care to have them. Then I left, but the ducats had made an impression on me, for after lunch I confessed to my friends that I would like to go back to the coin shop. We went and I left with the 10-ducat pieces in my pocket. I was a coin collector, and have been one ever since."
Among the very many beautiful and interesting coins of Paul A. Straub, the impressive series of 50 multiple talers of the German principality of Brunswick, the ponderous gold 50-zecchini piece of Doge Paolo Renier of Venice, the glittering beauty of the 25-ducat piece of the Transylvanian Prince Michael Apafi, and the many rare and fascinating talers of the German Baroque period, are only a few examples of the extent and richness of this collection.
The year 1956 brought a new Curator of numismatics to the Smithsonian: finally attaining his life-long dream to work again in a museum, Dr. Vladimir Clain-Stefanelli joined the staff of the Smithsonian Institution in September 1956. He was the Division, he had no other assistant or helper, and he had to share the secretary and the typewriter with two other divisions. One year later, in October 1957, the Division had two Curators, as I had joined the staff, but still there was no secretary or typewriter. We entered the magic world of the Smithsonian, a huge scholarly organization, where numismatics had to compete for its place with many other divisions. Very few in the administration of our institution seemed to understand numismatics, its history, its world-wide implications, its scope, nor could they comprehend our dreams for the collections. But we found great support in Dr. Leonard Carmichael, the seventh Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, its highest official. He was always ready to help where he could; he personally greeted some of our donors. I remember, for instance, the reception and the highly appreciative words he gave Mr. Isidore Snyderman from New York, when, in 1963, he presented to us the unique gold plaquette of John Paul Jones by Victor D. Brenner.
The first years of our activity at the Smithsonian will always remain in my memory as the gold years, filled with hard work and with immense excitement. Neither the very limited space assigned to us, nor the lack of support staff could daunt our spirits to strive to reach the level of other noteworthy numismatic museums in the world. When Dr. V. Clain-Stefanelli took over the Division in 1956 the collection numbered a little over 64,000 items; by the time he died in 1982, the number was close to 900,000 pieces. Only when searching recently through our records to refresh my memory for this paper did I fully realize how gigantic and uninterrupted the flow of numismatic material was during the last twenty-five years. Every section of numismatics: ancient, foreign, American pieces of coins, medals, tokens and paper money, grew extensively. New sections such as the Oriental and Islamic coins, European decorations, paper monies of the world and financial documents, rose from insignificant beginnings into sizable collections. Today our Oriental section, for instance, can be numbered among the leading ones in the world. This steady increase was realized almost exclusively through private donations. The Smithsonian does not dispose of any funds for purchases; we were allowed to buy only a few items needed for special exhibits. In the last decade or so, there have been special funds available for exceptional purchases, but there we have little chance to succeed, since we have to compete with many other museums or sections of our institution for funds. It is therefore due almost entirely to the private donors that Dr. V. Clain-Stefanelli could realize this unbelievable growth.
As a good omen we started in 1959 with a collection of world coins of more than 21,000 pieces donated by Mrs. Catherine Bullowa from Philadelphia. Other similar groups, of smaller proportions, were donated by two ladies who bore famous names in numismatics: Mrs. Olga Raymond, the widow of Wayte Raymond, the "father" of modern numismatics in the United States, and Mrs. Helen L. Boyd, the widow of one of the richest and most versatile collectors in the 1930s and 1940s, F.C.C. Boyd. Another famous name in United States numismatics of the past century was added to our pedigree collections: Andrew C. Zabriskie, one of the great collectors of the late 19th century, who had kept a favorite group of coins which came from the land of his ancestors, Poland. A select collection of about 500 medieval and modern Polish coins was donated to the Smithsonian in 1961 by his son, Christian A. Zabriskie from New York. An engineer from Cincinnati, Frederick Hauck, added the glitter of gold to our holdings when he donated in 1965 over 2,400 foreign and domestic gold coins and medals.
While various collectors contributed their share, a steady flow of gifts of the most versatile character, including untold rarities in every imaginable field of numismatics was donated by the members of a numismatic firm in New York, the Stack family. The brothers Joseph B. and Morton Stack started in 1958 a tradition which has been continued up to this day by their sons, Ben, Norman and Harvey. Over the years more than 750 deeds of gifts were signed over to our collections by them, bringing the amount of donated specimens to almost 62,000 items, a sizable collection in itself. There is no section of numismatics where we can not find exceptional additions from the Stack family. Great rarities, unusual items, exquisite styles can be found among the many gifts: U.S. patterns and experimental pieces; artists' models for medals and coins; bronze, silver (Figure 17), and gold Greek coins, such as the 15-stater gold piece of King Eucratides of Bactria; the earliest Greek coin, an electrum half stater from Ionia of about 650 B.C. (Figure 16); the exquisite British "Dominion of the Sea" gold medal; a Charon's token in gold (Figure 18); an important collection of Indian gold mohurs (Figure 19); sketches and designs of American engravers; California crucibles for casting silver bars; a rare collection of dies used by modern master counterfeiters to fake some of the rarest Greek and Roman coins; a very extensive and authoritative collection of Greek colonial bronze coins; American colonial paper notes; financial documents; medieval bracteates. This random listing gives us only a cursory glimpse of a wealth and variety which time and space do not allow to describe.
One of the great privileges of working at the Smithsonian has not only been to become familiar with such wealth of numismatic material but also to have the opportunity to meet so many unusual and fascinating people. Collectors are by definition a group of "sui generis" people with different backgrounds and varied tastes. Meeting them enriches ones human horizon tremendously.
One of these encounters was with an elderly gentleman from Paoli, Pennsylvania. I remember going with my husband to Paoli to visit with Mr. and Mrs. Ken Packard and view the heirlooms he was so proud to show us. Mr. Packard was a direct descendant of the famous American engraver Christian Gobrecht. Mr. Packard enriched our collection through a very interesting donation containing among others the miniature portraits of Christian Gobrecht and his wife, the spectacles of the artist, as well as some medals from Gobrecht's estate. Dr. V. Clain-Stefanelli succeeded in adding to this biographical material a large group of designs (Figure 20), some on mica, as well as models and lead proofs prepared by Gobrecht mostly for the 1836-38 coinage. These items were acquired for the Museum by other donors, mainly by the Stack family.
Among our highly prized items is an experimental double eagle of 1907 in high relief, designed by Augustus Saint Gaudens at the wish of President Theodore Roosevelt (Figure 21). The artist donated this piece to the President, and after half a century, a grandson of the President, Mr. Cornelius Van Schaack Roosevelt donated it to the Smithsonian in 1967. It is indeed exciting to think that this very piece was held and admired by the President who initiated its creation and who envisioned through it the aesthetical revival of the entire United States coinage.
One patron in those early years of our collecting activities was also a gentleman often seen at numismatic shows throughout the country: Mr. Frederick W. MacKay, the proud owner of one of the showiest exhibits which won many awards at numismatic conventions. Among his glittering and colorful collection of grand-crosses of orders of knighthood were many famous decorations which had made the annals of the highest virtues and the most noble ruling houses of Europe such as an 18th century garter of the "Most Noble Order of the Garter", the Order of the Golden Fleece, the collar of the Order of the Annunziata, owned by King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy, in addition to many pieces owned and worn by famous personages of the twentieth century. Mr. MacKay bequeathed to the National Collection this unique collection of over 250 orders in addition to a small but very nice group of Indian peace medals a counterpart to the distinctions given to European royalties. After Mr. MacKay's death in 1967, this collection and the specialized library of books connected with orders and decorations came as a gift to the Smithsonian.
I mentioned before that our collecting activities brought us in touch with many extraordinary people, and I consider it indeed a special priviledge to have been part at many of these visits and discussions. Among some of the most memorable were the visits of the Honorable R. Henry Norweb, and his wife, Mrs. Emery May Norweb, a numismatic scholar in her own rights. We had known the Honorable and Mrs. Norweb long before we had joined the Smithsonian, but I remember most vividly their visits at our office in the old Arts and Industries Building. The Honorable "dropped in" quite often during his frequent trips to Washington as an ex-ambassador and consultant to the State Department. The discussions were most stimulating, and I listened, fascinated, when the Honorable was telling us of his collecting experiences in finding some of his exquisite Latin-American coins. Mrs. Emery May Norweb was mostly interested in American and English coins as well as English tokens. She was indeed an ambulant encyclopedia in these areas. When the Norwebs heard that we were preparing a permanent exhibit illustrating the evolution of coinage in the United States and in the world, they were immediately ready to help us with one of the most important units in the exhibit, the one devoted to the earliest coinages of the United States. We were very grateful indeed when they gave us on loan some of the rarest and the most perfectly preserved specimens of that period (Figure 15), among which were a Higgly penny, a group of Rosa Americana coppers in addition to a few very select early Massachusetts silver pieces (Figure 13). These coins became the focal point in our "History of Money Exhibit". In December 1982, Mrs. Emery May Norweb transformed the loan into a permanent gift, which she dedicated to the memory of Dr. V. Clain-Stefanelli. Unfortunately, within less than one year Mrs. Norweb passed away, following in death her husband, the Honorable R. Henry Norweb, leaving a great void not only among the rank of leading American numismatists, but also among the supporters of our National Numismatic Collection. The Norwebs will also always be remembered as the donors of a 1913-liberty-head nickel (Figure 14), given in 1977, of a highly interesting group of I Spanish-American proclamation medals, of a virtually complete collection of Canadian and Newfoundland coins, including the very rare Canadian 50-cent piece of 1921.
During the late 1960s Dr. V. Clain-Stefanelli had the good fortune to meet another fascinating person, Mr. Mortimer Neinken, a well-known New York industrialist and philanthropist. Mr. Neinken, though basically a philatelist devoting his free time to philatelic research and authoring studies on United States stamps, nevertheless became one of our great supporters. There is barely any numismatic section, from ancient Greek, Roman and Judaean coins to European paper monies, especially world emergency issues, that Mr. Mortimer Neinken did not leave a significant mark on. For almost twenty years his donations flowed in regularly: two famous world paper money collections assembled by two noted Austrian collectors were acquired by Mr. and Mrs. Neinken for the Smithsonian. This group of over a hundred thousand paper notes of the world, among which I have to single out an excellent and representative collection of Austrian paper notes and financial documents, monetary regulations, covering the period from the 18th to the 20th century, formed the nucleus of our very fine paper monies of the world section. As a few examples I would like to cite an extremely rare note issued during the Austrian siege of Osoppo in northern Italy in 1848, a fine set of French assignats of the period of the French Revolution, notes of the notorious "Mississippi Bubble", issued in Paris by John Law in 1720, a series of Austrian monetary regulations concerning counterfeits, prisoner of war and concentration camp issues, such as notes from the infamous Buchenwald camp. In the ancient coin series many rare and unusual items such as tesserae or weights were among these many donations. Noteworthy was also a collection of ancient Palestinian coins which completed another fine Judaean collection donated earlier, in 1968, by Mr. Harry Warshaw. I cannot omit to point out from among the many gifts received from Mr. Neinken at least a silver medal from c. 1632 portraying Lord Cecil Baltimore and his wife Lady Anne Arundel, as well as a receipt for a bond of one million dollars, signed in 1782 by David Rittenhouse.
Mr. Neinken remained an old and proven friend even after the passing away of Dr. V. Clain-Stefanelli. I used to consult with him quite often. The one time I was unable to make the appointed call, I was told by his secretary, when I finally did make the call, that he had just passed away the day before, and she added: "He had waited for your call, he told me to put you on although he did not feel well". It is at least by paying him here all my appreciation for his unbounded generosity and unfailing friendship, that I try to atone for my unforgivable mistake.
In the late 1950s a new, and very generous donor joined the group of our supporters: Mr. Willis H. duPont, the scion of one of our nation's leading families, decided to share with us one of the most outstanding collection of Russian coins and medals outside of the Hermitage in Leningrad. The 9,739 silver and copper coins and early silver ingots, the 371 gold and 64 platinum coins, and the 1,227 silver and 32 gold and platinum medals, depicting the history of Russian monetary evolution from the 13th to the 20th century, were bequeathed by Mr. duPont over a period of ten years to the Smithsonian. These coins had an interesting history in themselves; they belonged originally to the Grand Duke Georgii Mikhailovitch, a Romanov Prince, a cousin of the last Czar Nicholas II. The Grand Duke did not survive the turbulent changes of the Russian Revolution, but his wife and daughters, Princess Xenia and Princess Nina succeeded in fleeing the country; the collection followed them through their peregrinations until it reached the United States. My husband and I heard of it in the early 1950s in New York; later the collection was acquired by Mr. Edward Gans, who with the help of his Russian wife and of Mr. James Teodorovici succeeded in cataloguing the large holdings. The collection changed hands and was ultimately acquired by Mr. Willis duPont, who in 1958 began to donate it, in yearly installments, to the Smithsonian. It is undoubtedly the finest collection of modern Russian coins outside Russia. Among the uncounted rarities are a series of early 13th to 15th century silver ingots or grivnas from Novgorod, Kiev and Chernigov; two varieties of the very rare ruble of 1825 of Czar Constantine (Figure 29), three, six, and twelve ruble platinum coins of the 1830s (Figure 27), some of which are known only in very few specimens; the massive copper pattern ruble struck in 1771 (Figure 28) as a trial piece under Empress Catherine II, to possibly replace paper money in circulation; the pattern half-poltina in silver, 1726, still with an attached mint tag (Figure 25, 24); followed by many other exceedingly rare patterns (Figure 24) as well as regular issues (Figure 26). Impressive is not only the high amount of rare and unusual pieces, but also the perfect condition of most of these coins. Seldom have I seen coins of the last Czar Nicholas II in proof or in brilliant uncirculated surfaces. The series of medals (Figure 30) offers us a different delight: the artistically beautiful pieces are a never-ending source for historical research.
During the 1960s and 1970s our paper money collection grew considerably from small nuclei of colonial and state bank notes of the early 19th century to large and systematically developed sections of foreign and United States paper notes. Dr. V. Clain-Stefanelli was especially intent in finding specimens which typified various stages in the evolution of world currencies. In 1967 Mr. Joseph Stack helped us acquire the oldest bank note in the western world. From Sweden he purchased for us a 25 silver daler Swedish certificate of credit issued in 1666 by the Stockholm Bank (Figure 41). These notes were the forerunners of English and American bank notes of the 18th century.
Beside the large additions of world currencies which came through the generosity of Mr. Neinken, our holdings were considerably increased by gifts from Mr. and Mrs. James Leigh, who in 1970, donated a series of highly interesting Chinese, Mongolian, Manchurian and Russian notes. Mr. Leigh was himself involved for many years in the manufacture of paper monies in the Far East.
The most significant increase in the paper money collections happened in the United States series. A remarkable number of colonial notes were donated by the Stack family. In 1971 we acquired from Mr. Leonard Finn the Massachusetts 1690 20-shilling note, the earliest attempt of paper issues on American soil (Figure 44). An interesting acquisition was also two exceedingly rare "seal skin" notes issued in Alaska in 1816-17 by the Russo-American Company (Figure 42). The Confederated group grew through transfers from the Library of Congress, and especially through gifts from Mr. Philip Chase, a well-known researcher and collector of this field. In 1963 we received from Mr. Chase the personal album of an earlier researcher of Confederate currencies, Rahael P. Thian, entitled: "The Currency of the Confederate States." Another name collection was an exceptional group of over 600 fractional notes issued to replace the metallic coinage which disappeared at the outbreak of the war between the States. The collection was donated in 1971 by the widow of Mr. Herman K. Crofoot, from Moravia, New York, a well-known specialist of this period. This collection contained many rare proof and specimen notes (Figure 43) and a highly desirable "pink" shield of mounted fractional notes.
The overwhelming addition to the United States currency series came in the form of yearly transfers over a period of nine years from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Over 300,000 certified proofs for the printing of United States national bank notes (Figure 52), gold certificates, Treasury certificates, legal tender notes, and many other types were added to our collection. This gift that we obtained after lengthy deliberations between our Museum and Director Henry K. Holtzclaw from the Bureau opened new vistas in the research of many specialized series of United States currencies. This addition, through its tremendous number of items, put very high demands on our small staff; the simple activity of arranging and inventorying of such masses of material took years. At the present, we make slow, but steady progress, by organizing, with the help of Mr. George Bull, a volunteer, the National Bank Note series by States. In 1978 another very important addition of federal issues came from the Department of the Treasury. Among the 808 notes, with a total "face value" of over half a million dollars, were many rare early issues of the 1860s, as well as four 100,000 dollar notes of the 1934 gold certificates series (Figure 23).
Among the more unusual gifts of the 1958-1970 (Figure 22, 39) period was a reconstruction of Leonardo da Vinci's coin stamper built especially for our exhibit by the International Business Machines Corporation. Engineer Roberto Guatelli succeeded in putting together a working model from Leonardo's designs. This stamper represents an important technical step in the evolution of coining. Other very interesting and unique items were: a beautifully illuminated manuscript of the statutes of the Order of the Garter, dated 1563, and donated to the Smithsonian by Charles McCormich of Chicago, and a pair of dies prepared in Philadelphia by Robert Lovett, Jr. (Figure 23) in 1861 for the striking of a proposed copper cent of the Confederacy.
Certainly unusual is also a gift of Mr. Alfred Bloomingdale of New York, who donated to our collection a series of fifty-eight cartoons referring to the first charge plates used by Diners Club. Mr. Bloomingdale, the famous owner of the well-known New York department store, was personally involved in the promotion of this novel method of payment.
The year 1968 was one of the most memorable ones in the history of our collections. Two years earlier one of the most outstanding collectors of our times, Josiah K. Lilly, Jr., a third generation chief executive of the Eli Lilly Pharmaceutical Company, had died in Indianapolis. He qualifies as one of the most outstanding collectors not only because of the high quality of the objects acquired, but also because of the unusual variety of his collections. His famous library, donated in 1959, to Indiana University at Bloomington, is the second finest rare book library in the United States; his stamp collection was one of the four or five major collections in the world; his gun and side-arm collection concentrated on arms used in the Americas; his gem collection, restricted to only thirty-nine unmounted precious and semi-precious stones, excelled through their quality; his twelve paintings covered the finest examples of the 18th century masters; and finally, the most unique collection of American military miniatures consisted of 7,000 miniature military figures representing every military unit in the United States from 1775 to 1900, researched up to the most minute detail by Mr. Lilly himself. An exceptional man with vast cultural interests. Mr. Lilly became fascinated early in life with the sea and the life on the sea. He developed a fine marine collection containing many paintings and books on the subject. Late in life he undertook to read all the novels dealing with the sea. This fascination with one facet of life on the sea: piracy, lead Mr. Lilly to coins. He stopped one day at Stack's in New York to acquire one of the Spanish pieces-of-eight, so often connected with the history of piracy. From that moment on a new, vast field of research opened up to this avid reader and collector.
Within a twelve-year period Mr. Lilly assembled over 6,000 gold coins; he concentrated on gold, as the noblest of metals. I am quoting from Dr. V. Clain-Stefanelli's report on the collection prepared in 1968 for the Congressional hearings: "I became aware more than twelve years ago that an unusually large collection of gold coins was being assembled in the United States, and slowly I began to realize its incredible vastness. I tried in vain over the years to find out the name of the collector... and only last year I was told that it had been Josiah K. Lilly. Finally I was given the opportunity to examine and analyze the scope of his collection and I can only say that it surpasses any other collection of gold coins ever assembled by one person that I know of. The number it comprises is, in itself, extraordinary, amounting to about 6,115 pieces. But even more significant is the historical and for that matter geographical scope of the collection."
The most significant part consists of a virtually complete United States gold coin collection numbering 1,227 pieces, among which 153 are pioneer and territorial issues, including about forty unique ingots. The second place belongs to a Latin-American collection of 1,236 pieces, as well as Brazilian and Mexican ingots. The European section numbers 3,227 coins, among them uncounted rarities (Figure 34, 37), especially in the Danish (Figure 35) and Holy Roman Empire series, such as, for instance, two 100-ducat pieces. The overseas, Africa, Asia and the Far East, are fairly well represented with 243 coins. As a last group I would list the ancient Greek gold with thirty-eight coins, the Roman series with sixty beautiful aurei of Roman emperors (Figure 33, 31), and, finally, seventeen Byzantine gold coins (Figure 33). The ancient group was still being developed when an unexpected death cut short Mr. Lilly's collecting and research activities. He was a very systematic researcher and collector; he would not tackle any new series before researching it thoroughly, and only then would he start collecting, concentrating on a single series at a time. He kept his collecting activities a secret, consulting and buying exclusively only from the Stack firm in New York.
To list the rarities of this collection would by far exceed the scope of this paper. In the United States series I would like to mention only the unique Brasher half-doubloon, dated 1787 (Figure 38); the unique 1797 five-dollar piece with sixteen stars on the obverse and the heraldic eagle on the reverse; the 1822 five-dollar piece; the superb series of private gold issues of Georgia and North Carolina. From among the many California strikings of the early 1850s I would like to cite the 100-dollar ingot of H.M. Naglee & Co. Banking House in San Francisco (Figure 40); the 20-dollar gold coin issued by the "Diana Gambling House" in San Francisco, and an exceptional series of Arizona and Nevada ingots.
The Latin-American series is probably one of the most extensive of its kind. In the European group there is an abundance of multiple ducats from Austria, Bohemia, Poland, the German principalities, not to overlook the 100-ducats struck by the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand III, in 1629, for his coronation in Prague, or the second 100-ducat piece of Sigismund III of Poland, commemorating his victory over the Turks at Hotin in 1621 (Figure 36), as well as the extremely rare 10-ducat piece struck for Livonia in 1645 by Queen Christina of Sweden. When looking at these and some other gold coins such as the exquisite Masse d'or issued in the late 13th century by the French King Philip IV (Figure 32), or at the triple Unite of King Charles I of England in 1643, do we realize the impact this extraordinary collection has on our numismatic and historical research. This collection opens a wide historical horizon to any researcher.
This great collection came to our Museum in a very unusual way. Since Mr. Lilly did not leave in his will any provisions for its disposal, it was decided by the executors of the estate to donate it "intact" to the National Numismatic Collection: the Indiana Congressional delegation with the Honorable William Bray and Congressman Andrew Jacobs, Jr., initiated legislation in Congress which ultimately resulted in the delivery of the collection to the Smithsonian. In exchange the Lilly estate received a credit of $5,534,808 on its federal estate tax. This amount was determined by expert appraisors, and jointly agreed upon by the estate and the appropriate federal authorities. It would seem like the collection cost the United States tax payers over five million dollars, in fact, the actual cost was considerably lower, since the estate had to pay on the above amount federal estate and Indiana inheritance taxes which reduced the price to less than half its initial estimated amount. In "recognition for the successful acquisition and display of the Josiah K. Lilly collection" in 1973 Dr. V. Clain-Stefanelli and myself were given the Smithsonian's gold medal for Exceptional Service.
In the 1970s another exceptional name collection was donated to the Smithsonian: the Chase Manhattan Bank collection. In acknowledging this donation in 1978, Mr. S. Dillon Ripley, then the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, expressed his gratitude to Mr. David Rockefeller and the Chase Manhattan Bank by saying that: "This gift to the American people represents a national treasure which could not be assembled today." The Chase Manhattan collection was originally acquired by the Bank in the 1920s from Farran Zerbe, a distinguished numismatist. The story is told that Zerbe began collecting in 1882 when he was a newspaper boy in Tyrone, Pennsylvania. Someone gave him a French 50-centimes piece as change, which so stirred his curiosity that he started looking for other coins unknown to him, becoming eventually an avid collector of monies of foreign lands and cultures, starting with the Babylonians and the primitive tribes of Africa and Asia. Through his extensive travels the collection grew numbering eventually in tens of thousands. He proudly exhibited it at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition and the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition in 1905. In 1926 he arranged a special exhibit of monies of the world at the Park Avenue branch of the Chase National Bank in New York. The success of this exhibit determined the bank to acquire, two years later, "Zerbe and his collection", thus creating "the Chase National Bank Collection of Monies of the World at the main office in Pine Street." Zerbe was its first Curator, followed in 1949 by Mr. Vernon Brown.
Over the years the collection increased in number and importance and after a few peregrinations to various locations on Wall and Broad streets, the "Chase Manhattan Bank Money Museum" found its home in the beautiful setting of the Rockefeller Center. It became a point of attraction for coin collectors and tourists.
The National Numismatic Collection profited very much through the addition of the wealth of the highly interesting and historically important items of the Chase Manhattan collection. In the first place should be mentioned the large variety of rare and seldom seen primitive currencies, which tripled our own holdings. Among this group were: Indian wampum; a ceremonial shield of pure copper called "chief's copper", the highest form of wealth among the Kwakiutli Indians of Alaska (Figure 46); from Yap Island in the West Pacific, a big thirty inches mill-stone like "stone-money" or "fai", cut in aragonite; dogs' teeths, the "gold coinage" of the Solomon Islands; manillas or open bracelets of copper, iron or brass used in the slave trade of Africa's Gold Coast; blunted spears of the Bangala, or throwing knives of the Bubu tribe of the Congo; the famous cast copper crosses from Katanga; or pressed tea in the form of bricks from Tibet and Mongolia, in addition to uncounted other fascinating items which tell the story of the strangest forms money could take in the course of its evolution.
The western civilizations are well represented in the Chase Manhattan collection through a limited but select group of ancient Greek, Roman, Byzantine, medieval, and modern coins (Figure 45), reaching up to our own period. The United States group contains fine and rare specimens of colonial coins (Figure 48), early federal gold issues, and a fine selection of trial and pattern pieces (Figure 47), reflecting interesting highlights of the various attempts of the U.S. Mint to improve the nation's coinage. As examples might serve a pattern five-dollar piece, 1860, with slightly concave surface to foil counterfeiting attempts (Figure 49); or the extremely rare pattern in gilt copper for a 50-dollar gold coin struck in 1877 as a futile attempt to introduce, at insistant demands of California, a larger gold coin.
The paper money section of the same collection excelled especially through its fine group of checks and financial documents: the earliest known check drawn for 20-pounds in 1664 in London; a group of checks bearing names of nearly every president of the United States (Figure 51), or of other prominent Americans such as J.J. Astor, J. Fenimore Cooper, Daniel Webster, Charles Lindbergh. Fascinating items can be found in the "monies of the Depression Period": wooden nickels and leather money showed man's ingenuity in times of stress. When a citizen in the California town of Pismo Beach was unable to make small change during the bank holiday of March 1933, he exclaimed: "Well, we can always use clam shells for money until banks open"; and the people of Pismo Beach did indeed use shells for fifty-cents (Figure 50) and one dollar values, signing them on the inside as they changed hands.
From the seeds planted in the 1840s when some saw the significance of a national museum which would increase and diffuse knowledge, the Smithsonian holdings grew slowly and with them also the numismatic collections. Since the 1950s this rhythm was accelerated, and an astounding and continuous flow of unbelievable treasures were added to practically every single section of the collections. It was due, in good part, to Dr. V. Clain-Stefanelli's conscious desire to fill gaps in every field, as well as to his vigilant attention to find interesting collections or exceptional single items. With the help of a group of generous donors, who contributed highly interesting and rare items uncounted, our collecting activities never reached a stagnation point. Under Dr. V. Clain-Stefanelli's leadership the collection grew from over sixty thousand to close to nine-hundred thousand. He secured for this collection a place among the worlds largest and most respected numismatic cabinets.
From the clam shells of Pismo Beach of the depression days of 1933 to the irregularly shaped electrum half-stater of Ionia of about 650 B.C., one of man's first attempts at coinage, to the 100,000 dollar note of 1934, or to the thin Charon's obol in gold of the fourth century A.D., they are all varied forms of money that was produced by the most diversified civilizations over a period of two-and-a-half milenia. They all can be found in the Smithsonian's National Numismatic Collection, devoted to the history of the human race expressed in one of its most intriguing inventions: money.