Smithsonian Exhibition Highlights Numismatic Rarities

Selected Coins on View for the First Time
November 13, 2005
A new exhibition by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will explore rare and historically significant artifacts from its National Numismatic Collection—more than half of which have never been on view or have not been displayed for many years. "Legendary Coins & Currency” draws 56 objects from this internationally acclaimed collection. Coins, bills, medals and captivating oddities—such as pattern designs, fantasy coins and homemade clam shell money from the Great Depression—will be on display. The exhibition is scheduled to open Dec. 8 at the Smithsonian Castle, located at 1000 Jefferson Drive N.W. and will run through Sept. 10, 2006. A companion Web site will debut simultaneously at http://americanhistory.si.edu/coins “The coins and other items in this exhibition contain stunning examples from our collection as well as an amazing amount of information about American history.” said Brent D. Glass, museum director. “I am delighted to present these rarities to the American public, some for the very first time.” Numismatic Guaranty Corporation of America (NGC) and Numismatic Conservation Services, LLC (NCS) are the presenting sponsors of the exhibition. “It is an honor for us to assist in making this display possible,” said Mark Salzberg, chairman of NGC and NCS. “We see this as an unprecedented opportunity to unlock the educational value, expand the hobby and create awareness of these historical treasures.”0D The display, unique in its interpretive approach, is organized under five themes: Legendary Firsts, Legendary Beauties, Unexpected Legends, Golden Legends and Legends of the Human Spirit. Visitors can examine some of the NNC’s rarest and most prized pieces to learn why history has elevated these artifacts to legendary status. Of particular interest is the 1913 Liberty Head nickel, one of the most celebrated 20th-Century coins; the 1877 U.S. $50 (“Half Union”) patterns, the largest U.S. coin ever struck; and the 1849 Double Eagle ($20), a significant reminder of the California gold rush. Other objects include a 1652 Massachusetts Pine Tree Shilling; the 1906 Barber pattern Double Eagle; and the 1907 Saint-Gaudens Ultra High Relief Double Eagle, often considered to be among America’s most beautiful coins. This display draws from the National Numismatic Collection, which consists of more than 1.5 million objects, including coins, medals and paper currency and preserves the role of money in economic history. In addition to providing financial support, NGC and NCS, together with Jeff Garrett, president of Mid-American Rare Coin Galleries Inc., have provided pro bono assistance with the preservation and digitization of the collections. This includes surveying the coins slated for the “Legendary Coins & Currency” exhibition and providing conservation treatment to remove wax that was adhered to the coins from previous displays. The museum’s future goals include treating more objects in the collection and providing greater digital access. Background: The exhibition is on view at the Smithsonian Castle, located at 1000 Jefferson Drive N.W., open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., closed Dec. 25. Visit www.si.edu or call (202) 633-1000 or 357-1729 (TTY). Numismatic Guaranty Corporation of America certifies and authenticates rare coins, tokens, and medals. Numismatic Conservation Services is the sole professional service dedicated only to the conservation of numismatic objects. Both NGC and NCS are independent members of the Certified Collectibles Group, headquartered in Sarasota, Fl. The National Museum of American History collects, preserves and displays American heritage through exhibitions and public programs about social, political, cultural, scientific and military history. Documenting the American experience from Colonial times to the present, the museum looks at growth and change in the United States. The museum is located at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W. and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. For more information, visit the museum's Web site at http://americanhistory.si.edu.