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Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Philadelphia records


Held at: Historical Society of Pennsylvania [Contact Us]1300 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19107

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Formed in 1857, the Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Philadelphia (NAS) was a non-profit organization “dedicated to the encouragement and promotion of numismatic science and antiquarian research.” Important members of the organization included William S. Vaux, Joseph J. Mickley, Henry P. McIlhenny, Dr. D. G. Brinton and Eli Kirk Price. Meetings were often held in the homes of members, where coins and medals were displayed and papers on a variety of subjects, including the transition from wooden sailing vessels to steel steamships, the collections of the Union League, Chinese export porcelain, and paper making at Ivy Mills, were read.

The processed portion of the collection includes 0.8 linear feet of material and is arranged into seven series. Of these, the Administration and Financial series contain the largest amount of material and are arranged chronologically. The General subseries of the Administration series consists of meeting minutes, lists of officers and committee members, and several copies of the constitution and by-laws. The Corporate Papers of the President subseries, generated by Betancourt, contains correspondence, papers regarding an exhibit of NAS coins at the U. S. Mint, and other official papers. The Financial series documents the 1960s through the 1980s and contains annual reports, operating budgets, receipts, and insurance records that include a valuation of the society’s assets.

Some of the other series, mainly Miscellaneous and Membership, reveal an organization that was largely focused on socializing. The society held numerous parties both in conjunction with and separate from formal business meetings. The Correspondence series mainly consists of handwritten letters from members, several of which include endorsements for potential members. The Other Organizations series includes additional information about the relationship between NAS and the U.S. Mint. The Memorabilia series contains an assortment of items including post cards, coin company catalogs, and two undated photographs.

Unprocessed additions form the bulk of the collection and are grouped in the final series. They include correspondence; meeting minutes; membership, financial, and administrative records; published proceedings; talks given at NAS meetings; clippings; photographs; and other items.

Series I. Administration, 1957-1983

Subseries a. Administration, 1957-1983

Subseries b. Corporate Papers of the President, 1974-1981

Series II. Correspondence, 1963-1984

Series III. Financial, 1956-1984

Series IV. Membership, 1961-1981

Series V. Other Organizations, 1980-1983

Series VI. Miscellaneous, 1930-1983

Series VII. Memorabilia, 1945-1984

Series VIII. Unprocessed papers, 1857-1977

Boxes 1-2: Gift of Anthony H. Murray, 1992.

Boxes 3-16: Gift of Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks, 2005.

Accession numbers 1992.80 and 2005.112

XML encoding of original 2001 finding aid made possible by a grant from the Gladys Kriebel Delmas Foundation to the Philadelphia Consortium of Special Collections Libraries.

The arrangement of the first seven series appears to be based on original order.

Inventory of unprocessed papers added September 2011. Date range and extent updated to include unprocessing papers.

Box 13 of the unprocessed additions contain items that show signs of old mold, mostly in the form of white-gray sopts on the covers of a few hard-bound volumes. One booklet shows more visible damage, but it still useable. Researchers with sensitivities to mold should take care when using items from this box.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by John Armstrong, updated by Cary Majewicz
Finding Aid Date
; 2001
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Collection Inventory

Series description

This series primarily pertains to the operation of the NAS, including meeting minutes, the constitution and by-laws (1968), and records of the election of officers. Papers were often presented at meetings, and a copy of one given in 1979 by Capt. Charles H. Meigs, "Transition From Sail to Steam," is included. The papers in the series indicate that in the 1970s, six operating committees were active and the society duly recorded the elections of six officers to serve stated terms. There is also a completed 1957 questionnaire designed by a historiographer to acquire personal information about individual members of the NAS. The Corporate Papers of the President subseries, 1975-81, cover topics such as the loan agreement with the U.S. Mint, member and officer correspondence, official society correspondence, tax and financial matters, and commonwealth corporation charter issues.

Subseries a:. General, 1957-1983. ; 38 items.
Box 1 Folder 1-3
Physical Description

; 38 items

Subseries b: . Corporate Papers - President, 1974-1981. ; 224 items.
Box 1 Folder 4-10
Physical Description

; 224 items

Series 2: . Correspondence, 1963-1984. ; 33 items.
Box 1 Folder 11
Series description

The Correspondence series contains incoming letters from members recommending the endorsement of potential members into the society. Other items include invitations and thank you letters, expressions of sympathy for deceased members, and a 1963 Weber De Vore letter citing the decreasing homogeneity of “character and interest” of the society’s members. Notices regarding new member confirmations are located in the Membership series.

Physical Description

; 33 items

Series 3: . Financial, 1956-1984. ; 52 items.
Box 1 Folder 12-14
Series description

This series includes budgets, receipts, annual reports, bills, checks, and insurance information. In addition, there is an inventory of society collections and information relating to the society’s interest in seeking tax exemption status.

Physical Description

; 52 items

Series 4: . Membership, 1961-1981. ; 25 items.
Box 2 Folder 1
Series description

The Membership series contains membership lists, mailing addresses and phone numbers, as well as confirmation notices of new members.

Physical Description

; 25 items

Series 5: . Other organizations, 1980-1983. ; 13 items.
Box 2 Folder 2
Series description

This series documents the society’s dealings with the U.S. Mint, with which it arranged to loan a portion of its collection of commemorative coins for public display at the Philadelphia Branch.

Physical Description

; 13 items

Series 6: . Miscellaneous, 1930-1983. ; 28 items.
Box 2 Folder
Series description

This series includes a hand-drawn map, newspaper clippings, awards, directions, party lists, and society stationery.

Physical Description

; 28 items

Series 7: . Memorabilia, 1945-1984. ; 21 items.
Box 2 Folder 4
Series description

This series contains postcards announcing society meetings, auction catalogs of Schulman Coin & Mint, Inc., and the Certificate of Incorporation and Constitution and By-Laws of the American Numismatic Society, N.Y. 1948.

Physical Description

; 21 items

Scope and Contents note

These additions to the records of the Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Philadelphia include member lists, invitations, typescripts, published proceedings, accession catalogs for the society’s library, and correspondence and meeting minutes, some of which include transcripts of talks given at meetings. The correspondence is from members, vendors, and members of the general public seeking expert numismatic advice. The additions also include clippings, photographs, scrapbooks, a receipt book, etched printing blocks, and a glass negative. The materials cover the period from the society’s founding and extend to the late 1960s. Two empty metal boxes that were found with the additions are not included in the inventory.

Bound incoming and outgoing correspondence, 1892-1904; Payroll book, 1967-1968; Bound correspondence and notices, 1879-1881; Bound receipts of proceedings, 1887-1894; Loose correspondence in folders, 1948-1955, 1960-1962, undated; Minutes (in envelopes), 1916-1917; Loose papers, including 1914 map of Bucks and Montgomery counties.
Box 3
Glass negative of NAS bookplate; Printing plate and block; Financial volumes; Index to donors; Library accessions, 1884-1939; Receipt book, 1858-1871; Members and dues volume, 1860s-1913; Loose membership records, 1860s-1913; "Reliques of Barrister, Braxton, and Blair," circa 1869.
Box 4
Library accessions, 1884-1889; Bound correspondence, 1862-1870, 1871-1879, 1892-1919; Meeting notices, 1904-1922.
Box 5
"Cuts of Illustrations" (printing plates), Volume 33, 1946.
Box 6
Administrative files and correspondence, 1930s-1950s.
Box 7
Bound minutes in six volumes, 1857-1934.
Box 8
Published proceedings, pamphlets, and constitution & by-laws, 1870-1910.
Box 9
Correspondence, clippings, and essays (papers read before the society), 1905-1935.
Box 10
Bound correspondence, 1892-1904; correspondence files, 1884-circa 1907.
Box 11
Bound minutes in two volumes, 1935-1947; Curator records, 1975-1977; Propositions (proposals for new members), books 1 and 2, 1858-1918; Books of blank propositions; List of members, 1904; Financial reports, 1951-1964; Correspondence, 1959-1971; Loose miscellaneous papers.
Box 12
Bound minutes, 1948-1955; Published proceedings, constitution & by-laws, and other pamphlets, 1905-1946; "Wakehurst" pamphlet, 1974.
Box 13
Loose meeting notices, 1940s-1950s.
Box 14
Loose meeting notices, 1906-1945.
Box 15
Framed and unframed photographs of 1015 Clinton Street, Philadelphia, where NAS was founded in 1857; Bound manuscripts of Isaac Myers, society historiographer who died in 1887; 1886-1887, undated.
Box 16

Print, Suggest