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The American Numismatic Association (ANA) was founded in 1891 and received a Federal Charter by the United States Congress in 1912. The Charter was renewed in perpetuity in 1962, which makes the ANA one of only a few organizations in the United States to operate under a Federal Charter.
The Association's mission is to "advance and promote the study of coins, paper money, tokens, medals and related numismatic items as a means of recording world history, art, economic development and social changes, and to promote greater popular interest in the field of numismatics." One of the means the ANA uses to achieve this mission is the operation of the Money Museum located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Money Museum is the largest of its kind in the United States. The Museum features many of the finest specimens of gold, silver, copper and bronze coins, medals and tokens from ancient to modern, as well the foremost collection of United States paper money.
Another way the ANA helps to further education about money -- in all its forms -- is the maintenance of the Association web site, this month's D-Lib Magazine featured collection.
"Money is history you can hold in your hands, often depicting important people, places and events," says ANA Museum Curator Lawrence J. Lee. "Money is closely linked with history, art, economics, geography, even architecture, sociology and mythology."
"Money is not just the coins and paper currency that we are familiar with today," Lee adds. "There have been monetary denominations that seem curious today. For example, stones, beads and animal pelts have been used as a medium of exchange in many countries, including the early days of the Americas."
The ANA web site has many interesting online exhibitions. One that caught my eye had to do with a historical Bank of England bank note designed by an English illustrator named George Cruikshank. It is an example of how the design of a bank note actually helped effect social reform. Below is Cruikshank's pen and ink sketch for the bank note.
Cruikshank designed and prepared the "Bank Restriction Note," after he witnessed persons being hanged for passing forged Bank of England notes. In the upper middle of the sketch, you can see five persons being hanged. See the engraved bank note at <http://www.money.org/cruikshank.html> and learn the rest of the story. The web site exhibit on this subject originated from a July 1985 article in The Numismatist, an ANA periodical publication.
Another online exhibit on the ANA web site is "Money Museum: Selections from the Bebee Collection and other U.S. Paper Money Accessions". In the collection, you can find a U.S. Gold Certificate Series 1905 worth $20, with George Washington's portrait -- not Alexander Hamilton's -- on the bill. Below is an image of that twenty-dollar bill.
At the web site, be sure to take note of the colorful reverse side of the image shown above. Many of the images of paper money, coins and notes shown in the online exhibits are strikingly beautiful, revealing superb craftsmanship and design. For example, the photograph at the top of this page is of the Continental Dollar, the first coin of the United States. The reverse side of this coin is displayed on D-Lib Magazine's table of contents page this month. However, to really appreciate the beauty of the coin, you must visit the ANA's exhibit at <http://www.money.org/congress.html.
Many people expend a large fraction of their waking hours in pursuit of money so as to have the things that money can buy, but few people actually take the time to study and appreciate money for its own sake. The American Numismatic Association provides a rich set of resources, of which the ANA web site is but one, that may prompt you to look at money in a new way.
The American Numismatic Association home page is at <http://www.money.org>.
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