The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 18, Number 49, December 6, 2015, Article 8


Well, it's finally here. This week the American Numismatic Association unveiled its new digital archive of The Numismatist, which makes available some 100,000 pages of the organization's flagship publication. The ANA worked with Walsworth, the company that currently publishes the magazine. Walsworth in turn contracted with a British company called Exact Editions to build and host the archive. Here's an excerpt from Walsworth's press release. -Editor

Digital-content specialist Exact Editions of London, England, is providing the platform that gives more than 24,000 American Numismatic Association members access to the archive.

“Exact Editions is delighted to partner with Walsworth to build this deep, compelling and completely searchable digital archive. We look forward to building additional cross platform archives with Walsworth, and are excited about working with the ANA to bring this valuable resource to its members,” said Daryl Rayner, managing director of Exact Editions.

Walsworth worked closely with ANA to aggregate all of the print issues from the ANA library and private collectors, managed the entire digitization process, and worked with Exact Editions and ANA to create a customer experience that allows ANA members to access this benefit. In addition, Walsworth and Exact Editions will continue to provide user experience enhancements and member support to ANA.

To read the complete press release, see:
Walsworth and the American Numismatic Association Partner to Deliver Digital Library Containing 127 Years of The Numismatist (

Remember, this archive is a free benefit for ANA members. All paid members as of December 1, 2015 were sent an invitation email for their address of record. A few E-Sylum readers have already put the archive through its paces. Here are their thoughts. -Editor

Here are Saul Teichman's thoughts. Thanks! -Editor

The main screen looks as below with older listings set up in decades and the current decade by year. The individual editions for that year appear as shown below and are clickable to select. If you select a decade, that decade is expanded so that each year appears separately.

Numismatist archive main screen

I selected 1880s and the 6 Numismatists for 1888 and 1889 appear. If you select just 1888 from the top, you still get all 6 editions (oops!!), but if you select 1889 you only get those 4 editions. As this is a small edition, it shows all of the pages on the screen. If you pick a larger edition like below, you get several pages.

Clicking on any page opens and enlarges it, I had to click a second time for full screen so that I could actually read it on my laptop.

You have to use the arrow buttons to scroll from page to page. Using the windows scroll bar only lets you to scroll through the page.

The zoom in and out buttons are not variable (allowing for a % to zoom in or out by) I tried the “printable pdf” button as it would be nice to save/open the whole edition in pdf format. Unfortunately, it creates only the active page as a .pdf instead of the whole document.

You also need the arrow buttons for larger editions to scroll to the next set of pages

Finally, as editor of the website, I entered “Pattern” into the search window to find all of the editions in which that word appears. The listing defaulted to best match which gave a rather random listing of the editions. It would be better if all of the defaults were by “Newest”. My preferences showed Newest as the default but that does not appear to be in effect for the search button.

I clicked on newest and the listing did sort properly. It lists 8 editions per page, with the next and prev buttons. There are bugs here as my search notes that it returned more than 200 rows but the page scrolling ended at page 25 ie 200 records which got me to about 1938. If I went back to the top and changed the sort from Newest to Oldest, I got the first listing all the way back in 1897 !! What they need are more buttons allowing one to go back to the very start or go to the very end of the search

In any event, if you select one, it brings you directly to that page. From there you can scroll forward or backward within the edition.

Overall, I would say it is a good start, but it still needs some work to make it more user friendly.

Here are Eric Schena's thoughts. Thanks! -Editor

To call the ANA's project to make available digital copies of every issue of The Numismatist a boon to scholars and collectors alike is an understatement. Coming as I do from the perspective of one who has only comparatively recently joined the ANA, access to older issues has presented some difficulties, especially when researching some of the more arcane corners of our hobby. For writers, this resource is particularly helpful to see what others have written on a particular topic and find avenues that are not as well traveled so as to provide a deeper understanding of your area of interest. For collectors of all levels of experience, the ability to quickly put your hands on articles on all aspects of numismatics will help you gain an appreciation for pieces in your collection.

Once you create your account and login - make sure you have your ANA Member Number handy - the site is easy to navigate. The home page shows the covers of the most recent issues and you can leaf through back to older issues easily. Quick links up at the top will permit you to access the five most recent years, but after that it is broken down by decade all the way back to the 1880s. The Search functionality is quite simple and robust, though using keywords to quickly locate relevant articles was helpful.

For instance, searching on "jolas" got me not only the recent detailed study of Texas jolas work by James Bevill & Alvin Stern in the May 2011 issue but also a smaller article authenticating recent finds of the coins, as well as an April 1972 study on the discovery of the pieces. More generic searches such as on Humbert slugs or double eagles will generate hundreds of results, you can sort the results by best match, newest, or oldest appearance of that search term. Helpfully, there is functionality to allow you to print or save a PDF version of the page you are viewing. In addition, at the very bottom there is OCR (optical character recognition) text of the page. As is typical with OCR, often the text is somewhat garbled, though perhaps if the ANA is so inclined, perhaps a crowdsourced volunteer effort to correct and clean up any misreadings could be a future project.

All in all, the clean uncluttered interface gives this IT professional welcome relief from the rampant packing in as many bells and whistles as possible - sometimes a minimalist approach to web design is preferred. I have not tried using the archive on a mobile device or a tablet yet so I cannot comment on usability there, but I would think for tablet user or "phablet" users this will be an incredible resource to have on the go. Probably one of the most important online resources available to the numismatic community and one that should be readily utilized.

Here are Dave Ginsburg's thoughts. Thanks! -Editor

Let me start by saying that having The Numismatist available online is a real treasure for anyone interested in doing numismatic research. Instead of spending a fortune in money and time to acquire, read and index the issues, I now have them available for no cost above my ANA membership. I’m a fairly recent member of the ANA (since 2004), so I don’t have a collection of back issues of The Numismatist, nor do I want to spend the time to read through all the back issues to find a few nuggets of interest.

Last night I finally had the chance to peruse the digitized issues of The Numismatist. I found the log-in process to be a breeze and was impressed by the quality of the digitized pages.

First off, I looked for a copy of the April 1951 issue. The issue contains an article by Walter Breen on the New Orleans Mint and in the “old days” (that is, last year) when I wanted a copy of the article, I sent an email request to the ANA Library, whose staff photocopied the article and mailed it to me, along with a fairly nominal bill (for $5 or so, if I remember correctly).

Now, however, navigating to the issue is simply a matter of clicking on the “1950s” button, followed by the “1951” button. Once the issues for that year appear, one can just click on the cover of the April issue and find the pages one wants. Once there, a simple click of the “printable pdf” button on the top right-hand corner yields a high-quality pdf image.

So much for sending an email, waiting for the mail to arrive and paying a modest bill!

The one advantage to waiting for a few days to start using the digitized issues is that I could rely on the collective wisdom of the PCGS and NGC discussion boards. A thread on each is devoted to the archives of The Numismatist (including search tips) and user CaptHenway posted a link to the Exact Editions’ search guide:

The “search” feature is the “weakest link” of the website: a user has only a basic search box. There’s no way to search by Author or range of publication dates, nor is there a way to search the articles only or the advertisements only. Search results are displayed by “best match”, “newest” or “oldest.” The “best match” feature seems to show every match, even if there are three matches on a page, while using “oldest” seems to show only the issues in which a match exists. Another quirk I noticed: searching for “Breen” didn’t find the April 1951 issue, while searching for “Breen” AND “New Orleans” did find the April 1951 issue.

Of course, having only a basic search function available is also a gift to a researcher: in only a few searches, I found articles that I never knew existed and would never have found in a well-targeted search. (Unfortunately, this “gift” is similar to visiting Faerie, where time passes differently than it does in the human world and one must be careful not to be mesmerized “for a few minutes” by all the shiny objects only to find that ten years have passed by in the outside world!)

For example, with a better-targeted search, I would have never known that Cole Danehower wrote an article for the February 1991 issue that told the story of the political struggle to establish the San Francisco Mint. (I will now resist the temptation to discuss the results of my Google search of Mr. Danehower – other than to note that he became a subscriber of The E-Sylum in September 2012 and that he passed away in August 2015.)

In conclusion, let me say that this gift from the ANA is (and is not) what it seems: it is a wonderful tool for a researcher that brings the last 100+ years of numismatic history to your fingertips – and that is its danger. I foresee hundreds of “lost” hours in my future!

Now, for the next “gift” to the numismatic community: who will digitize the issues of The Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine?

Here are Pete Smith's thoughts. Thanks! -Editor

I logged in to the ANA website on the morning of December 1, 2015, to check out the digital archives for The Numismatist. It was not available then but I received an email later in the day confirming that it was now available.

The archives are not on the ANA site. Users are directed to a site hosted at They have a simple procedure to log-in that requires an ANA member number, an email address and a password. This was quite easy and instructions are on the ANA site.

The user enters a search term and results are shown. On the left is a thumbnail image of the cover of that issue of the journal. To the right of that is a thumbnail image of the exact page. On the right is a preview pane showing the search term and nearby text. A user can ask for results from newest to oldest or oldest to newest.

If you know the issue date and page for an article, it is also possible to search for just that issue and the desired page. There is a magnification tool to enlarge the image.

My results indicate that the site can search through various fonts and size of text to match the desired search terms.

The ANA digital archive of The Numismatist is wonderful! I have probably spent more than ten hours this week doing research on the site. I have found many gems of information not previously discovered or easily forgotten. I hope I do not give the wrong impression when I mention a few things that I wish were better.

The search will produce no more than 200 results. There is no way to know how many more results are not listed or how to access them. I can narrow the results by including additional terms but I don’t know how to broaden the search to all occurrences.

I know that I can include a phrase within quotation marks. There are Boolean search tools that allow for a search of two phrases within the range of a few words. These tools are not mentioned in the instructions.

I wish there was a way to search with a date range. This would reduce the number of results that don’t interest me.

Sometimes the preview pane is blank or contains fragmentary images that do not include the search term. I also found searches where the search term cannot be found on the page shown.

With one of my searches, I was looking for exhibits that included a 1792 half disme. I found several references to the piece donated by Steve Contursi and exhibited at the ANA convention in 2012. I could not find any reference to the MS-68 piece loaned to the ANA and exhibited in 2013. I don’t know if that item was never mentioned in The Numismatist or if the search failed to turn up a proper match.

I discovered an error in the way some pages were scanned out-of-sequence. I do not see any instructions on how to report problems to the site host.

According to the Frequently Asked Questions on the ANA site, "E-mail your query to". -Editor

As I am searching, I am also keeping notes in another document. If I switch back from that document to the search results, I lose the original image. That is annoying.

Now I face a dilemma. I have a string of 75 years of issues in my library. I can’t see a reason why I would ever want to move several heavy boxes to find an issue for research. The digital archive is much more convenient. I can’t bear to throw them out. I can’t see why anyone would want my back issues. What do we do with paper when it represents obsolete technology?

I think David Fanning was right when he said in his recent Coin WorldNumismatist set, which is of far more value to me now that I have an easy mechanism for locating what I need within those pages.

Mint Marks ad Numismatist 1899 November p252 My own take on the digital archive is similar to those described above. While there are some issues to resolve and enhancements that could be made, overall the system is a valuable research tool. Among my first queries was a vanity search on my own name, and it turned up 101 references. Only one of these was a false positive, and it was around #99 on the list. Most of these references I'd forgotten about, but the search was spot-on. It found all the articles I've written and (as far as I can tell) it found all other mentions of my name. A few searches for older terms like "George Rode" correctly located articles containing those terms in issues all across the publication's 127-year history. I also used the archive to successfully identify people shown in a 1964 ANA convention photo (see the article elsewhere in this issue). Easy as pie!

Illustrated are a couple interesting items I found right off the bat. Both are from the November 1899 issue. Above and to the right is an ad for Augustus Heaton's landmark work on Mintmarked U.S. coins. Below is prescient space filler encouraging readers to "Begin the Century Right!"

Begin the Century Right Numismatist 1899 November p252

Many thanks to the ANA for making this archive available. Again, everyone: Welcome to the Future! -Editor

To access the Numismatist archive (Members Only), see:

There is also a mobile version available, as described in Jeff Starck's December 4, 2015 Coin World article. -Editor

Mobile version available
In addition, the Exact Edition app is available for smartphones and tablets, putting all 110,000 pages in the space of one page or less.

Once inside the ExactEdition format, users will see the publication accessible decade-by-decade, with further access available to individual years within each decade.

Each year will launch a fresh screen showing the respective issues for that year, identified by the publication date.

Tools allow viewers to enlarge each page, clip content and even save individual pages as PDFs. A search bar allows text searches within the issue, and a search of all issues is available on the main page as well. A search for “Starck” revealed four results across a 43-year-period, in about one second.

Results are displayed with three elements: the cover image at left, the page image in the middle and an enlarged focus on the search term at right.

Access of the digital archive is a free benefit of membership in the ANA.

To read the complete Coin World article, see:
American Numismatic Association launches digital archive of The Numismatist magazine (

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Wayne Homren, Editor

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