Massachusetts Historical Society Exhibition Showcases Its Numismatic Treasures

Posted by Collectors Society on 6/15/2010

Visit the Massachusetts Historical Society during the ANA Show in Boston to view their display, "Precious Metals: From Au to Zn."

Seasons Indian peace medal;
the shepherd. Silver medal
engraved by Conrad Heinrich Kuchler
after a design by John Trumbull, 1798.

While the American Numismatic Association (ANA) is in Boston this summer, the Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS) is taking the opportunity to show off some of its numismatic treasures. From August 2 through September 11, “Precious Metals: From Au to Zn” will be on display in the Society’s building at 1154 Boylston Street — just three blocks west of the Hynes Convention Center.

Special guest curator John W. Adams and MHS curator Anne E. Bentley have planned an exhibition to highlight many of the rare and unique pieces in the collection. A small sampling includes the NE two pence and shilling and the 1776 Massachusetts Pine Tree copper penny for the coin collectors. A piece of original Massachusetts-Bay stock and the February 1690/1 Massachusetts Bill of Credit, along with some special colonial notes and obsolete bank bills, will tempt the paper specialists. Medal collectors will be drawn by the full set of Washington-Webster silver Comitia Americana medals, as well as what is possibly the only surviving example of an 18th-century diplomatic medal, that was presented by the United States General of the Netherlands to envoy John Adams. Medals from the Betts series, Indian Peace Medals of Colonial and federal issue, school and personal medals will also be on view. The MHS will display a generous number of Washington medals from the Baker series and will feature some fascinating pieces from the Vernon medal series. As well, there will be a display of awards and badges that honor medical and military victories. There is something for everyone at the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Diplomatic medal of the States-
General of the United Provinces of Holland,
given to John Adams on 6 March 1788.
Gold medal by [K], [circa 1788].

Regular public hours are from 1 to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and there are special ANA morning hours, from 9 a.m. to noon, on August 10-14. If convention attendees plan to research the MHS collection while in town, please contact Anne Bentley in advance to make an appointment, as time and space are limited, at abentley@masshist.org or call 617-646-0508.

About the MHS Numismatic Collection
Created as a repository and a publisher to collect, preserve and disseminate resources for the study of American history, the Massachusetts Historical Society has been collecting numismatic material since it first opened in 1791. Coins, ancient and “modern” [i.e. Colonial American], paper currency and medals of all classes were grist to our mill. Over this period the Society has enjoyed the support and guidance of several of the hobby’s notables, including earlier luminaries and MHS members William Sumner Appleton, Malcolm Storer and Shepard Pond; and more recent numismatic collectors and authors John W. Adams, the late Douglas Ball and Q. David Bowers.

Photos courtesy of Massachusetts Historical Society

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