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The E-Sylum:  Volume 9, Number 31, July 30, 2006, Article 20

THOUGHTS ON A NATIONAL NUMISMATIC MUSEUM

In response to Howard Daniel's call for a National Numismatic Museum
last week, I noted that the "U.S. Mint HQ in D.C. was built with the
first floor as a planned museum space, but that didn't happen."

David Ganz writes: "There was lot of congressional opposition to
the museum concept and there was some tough language in appropriation
bills that expressly prohibit it."

[The concept of a freestanding National Numismatic Museum has been
around in various forms for several decades. I should note that my
mention of the U.S. Mint HQ space is not an endorsement of a NNM
under the auspices of the Mint.  The Mint is after all, a manufacturing
operation, and as such its management has only limited interest in its
old products - their mandate is to produce the coinage needed TODAY,
and a museum doesn't fit into that mission.

On the other hand, it is the mandate of the Smithsonian Institution
to preserve and study the artifacts of our nation's (and the world's)
history, and current priorities and funding issues aside, the SI is
by far a better steward of such collections.

When the 1933 double eagle witch hunt began, it was only because
the Smithsonian had two examples and refused to give up custody that
they were not melted by the Treasury folks. The 1974 aluminum cent
might not exist except for the Smithsonian's protection.

Let's face it - the U.S. Mint doesn't have a stellar track record
when it comes to preserving numismatic artifacts and information.
Various prior administrations have overseen the destruction of
coinage designs and records, the destruction of pattern coin hubs
and dies, the destruction of experimental pieces with no attempt to
assess their future historical value, the destruction of large numbers
of operating records, refused research access to remaining documents,
design models and related historical materials, and (of particular
interest to bibliophiles), refused to comply with the National Records
Act and transfer records with National Archives.

The Mint should be allowed to have a nice little museum and gift
shop in their building on 9th street. But they should never be given
access to or responsibility for the NNC.

In practical terms, while it would be nice to emulate the Postal Museum
in Washington, DC, it would be difficult to match the financial base of
the postal facility, which I understand has a stream of dedicated funding
from the US Postal Service.  I commend Dave Bowers' attempt to educate
Congress and call for a similar stream of funding from the Mint for the
NNC.  -Editor]

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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