Newman Numismatic Portal Project Coordinator Len Augsburger provided the following report on NNP's web archive.
The Wayback Machine (http://web.archive.org/) is an archive of the World Wide Web, launched by Internet Archive in 1996. It allows users to go back in time and view old versions of web pages in addition to copies of web pages that no longer exist. It is by no means exhaustive, but, with a current size of 806 billion archived pages, it is unique and indispensable. Originally, the Wayback Machine was the only function of Internet Archive. Later, Internet Archive added scanning, digitization, and other services.
The power of the tool is immediately obvious. The media often reports on content that was removed from websites, and such verifications are made using the Wayback Machine. Related law is evolving, but Wayback Machine screenshots have been allowed as evidence in some courts. For sites that have been removed from the web, the Wayback Machine may represent the only copy that exists, and certainly the only one publicly accessible.
In 2018 Newman Portal began providing annual funding to the Wayback Machine to archive up to 0.5 terabytes of online numismatic data. The current collection size is 2.0 terabytes, representing 26 million web pages. This data is all ingested into the Wayback Machine and becomes publicly viewable; in addition, Internet Archive has a dedicated NNP page (https://archive-it.org/collections/9633) where the material scanned under our sponsorship is searchable on its own. Funding Internet Archive for this work allows us to specify sites that might not otherwise be included in the Wayback Machine.
Wayne Homren curates the list of numismatic websites archived by Internet Archive on our behalf, and currently has 800 sites identified. We are particularly interested in sites that are not actively maintained and may disappear in the near future. Dick Johnson's databank (medalartists.com), which catalogs 40,000 works by over 4,000 artists, is one such example. Sites maintained by single researchers or proprietors are more susceptible to obsolescence than large company sites (ie. Heritage Auctions, although even Stack's Bowers lost important data during an IT migration). Site owners include auction houses, individual dealers, collector clubs, institutional mints, and researchers. We further crawl social media sites, including numismatic groups on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. The E-Sylum blog, on a weekly basis, highlights a specific numismatic website, and this site is typically added to our crawl list if not already present.
Most of our crawls are configured to run on a quarterly basis. We do not capture all of the intermediate changes due to space and cost considerations. Further, for the portion of the Wayback Machine sponsored by us (26 million pages), we do not currently incorporate this data into the NNP search engine. There are two main considerations, first, NNP needs to successfully migrate to [a new platform named] Hyku before considering an addition of data that is more than five times larger than the current size of NNP. Second, there would be incremental Amazon Web Services (AWS) costs to host the additional data. This is not yet estimated but would be substantial. There may be ways to incorporate the Wayback Machine search results into NNP without ingesting all of the Wayback Machine data, but this is a post-Hyku migration exercise.
In April 2022, the American Numismatic Society accidentally deleted content from their website, which we located using the Wayback Machine. Andrew Reinhard, publications director, noted you are a lifesaver. Thanks to all involved in this amazing resource. The preservation of today's numismatic websites will have similar impact going forward, in ways that we might not yet understand. Although we have not yet integrated all of the Wayback Machine capability into NNP itself, this represents an important investment for the future.
It has been a pleasure to work on building this resource. Back in the early days of the internet, there were no search engines as we know them today. Web surfers relied on lists of web sites compiled by others such as Jerry Yang and David Filo, whose "Jerry and David's Guide to the World Wide Web" grew into Yahoo! In the late 1990s I worked as a Product Manager for the search engine at Lycos, and alongside the search engine there was a hierarchical guide of websites, most of which contained their own list of links to related sites. As search became more powerful these hand-curated site lists became obsolete and faded away. But specialized lists still have their uses, and the one I compiled drives NNP's Wayback Machine archive. We periodically review reports of broken website links, and while it's always sad to see a numismatic website disappear, it's also gratifying to know we'd been able to save at least some of its content from oblivion.
Have a new or old numismatic website that you love? Let us know about it - if it's not on our list I'll add it and we'll start preserving it for the future. I can always be reached at
Wayne Homren, Editor
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