ANA Membership: The Printed Record

Exhibited by David Sklow 2001

The American Numismatic Association was founded in 1891 by Dr. George Francis Heath of Monroe, Michigan. The association attracted 61 charter members who's names were recorded in the associations first publication, entitled Official Publication #1. This small 3 ½ x 5-inch booklet was produced in a very limited quantity estimated to be only 100-125 copies published!

Today only four copies are known to exist, one copy in the archives of the American Numismatic Association and the American Numismatic Society, and two copies in private collections.

The purpose of this exhibit is to show the progression of membership as documented by the association’s membership directories and lists.

In 1908 the ANA issued its first membership list, it was the same size as publication #1 had been and was 46 pages in length. The members were listed alphabetically by state and no membership numbers were included. Worthy of mention is the 1910 Year Book of the ANA. The Year Book included a complete list of the membership with numbers. 1913 saw a list of similar size as the 1908 list; membership numbers were included as in the 1910 Year Book, and would stay a part of all future lists.

The 1917 list was slightly larger in size than previous lists, and was produced by the Springfield, MA. Coin Club for the ANA. 1925’s list in addition to a still larger format also saw the first appearance of advertising space in a membership list! The constitution and bylaws, along with the library list was also included. 1927 brought a new idea, printing on only one side of the page. This method was used to allow members to write in pen and ink changes to the membership. Also in 1927 the name of the booklet was changed to membership list and directory. The 1930 version went one step further, by being published with interleaved blank pages for updates. The 1930 edition also listed the memberships of major coin clubs belonging to the ANA. The 1935 issue reverted back to the 1925 format and had no blank pages at all!  The size of the lists were again increased in 1938 to 5 x 7 inches and would stay that way until 1946.  The library catalogue was again included in the 1944 list, and that would mark the last appearance of the library list within the covers of the membership lists.

In 1946 the word list was dropped forever and only the term directory would be used. The size was once again increased to 6 x 9 inches and the directory had grown to over 200 pages, as the membership had grown from 61 in 1891 to over 5000 in 1946!  The new size was an effort to have the directories resemble the monthly issues of the Numismatist of that period. The directories remained the same format and size for 1946, 1948, 1951, 1954 and 1957. 

1960 brought another change in format to the directory. It was issued as part of the July 1960 Numismatist. It was stapled into the center of the issue.  The print size was reduced to a very small font and was extremely difficult to read.  This directory turned out to be a total disaster! What no one knew at the time, was there would only be one more membership directory ever produced. 1964 saw the last and probably the best membership directory ever issued by the ANA. The size was 9 x 11 inches, 288 pages. It included the ANA history, bylaws and membership directory. It also included a complete separate listing of member clubs at the back. 

The 1964 directory brought to an end an era of trust and communication. This directory was nicknamed the “thieves bible” as criminals used it to locate coin collectors and their collections. These directories and lists provide a look into the past of ANA history as well as prove to be a grand source of research information.  The lists from 1908, 1913, 1917 and the 1910 Year Book are considered to be rare and very difficult to obtain. Later issues are available through numismatic literature dealers

The following sources were used to assemble information for this exhibit:

  • American Numismatic Association membership lists (1908, 1913, 1917, 1925, 1927, 1930, 1935, 1938, 1940, 1944, 1946, 1948, 1951, 1954, 1957, 1960 and 1964).
  • American Numismatic Association the Numismatist 1891-1964.
  • American Numismatic Association Year Book, 1910.
  • American Numismatic Society Dictionary Catalogue of the Library page 71.
  • Kolbe, George F.  The Harry W. Bass Jr. Numismatic Library Sale Part IV June 10, 2000 lot 19.


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