Colorado Springs, Colo. – The earliest known surviving American Numismatic Association membership certificate, dated July 1, 1894, has been acquired by California real estate developer and long-time coin collector, Dwight Manley, and donated to the ANA. Manley’s donation also includes 16 other documents and materials dating back to the early years of the association that was founded in 1891 by Dr. George F. Heath of Monroe, Mich.
The items were purchased by Manley in the Oct. 6, 2012 auction conducted by David Sklow Fine Numismatic Books. The 6-by-9 inch ANA certificate of membership was described by Sklow as “possibly the rarest piece of history from the American Numismatic Association’s very early years.”
Manley requested that the certificate be displayed in the ANA library so that visitors to the association’s headquarters can see it. In 2003, the library was named in Manley’s honor in recognition of his life-long dedication to and financial support of the association.
“I’m a huge fan of the ANA and all that it stands for. I was both fortunate and amazed to able to buy these items that even the ANA didn’t have in their possession. I feel the best place for these unique, historic pieces of numismatica is in the ANA library where their beauty and romance can be enjoyed,” said Manley.
The 1894 ANA membership certificate was originally sent to Joseph Potichke of Massachusetts, and it reads: “Membership No. 196. Waltham, Mass. July 1, 1894. This is to certify, that, Mr. Joseph M. Potichke, was admitted to membership in the American Numismatic Association on the first day of July 1894. In witness whereof we have set our hand and seal.”
It is signed by then-ANA President Heath and ANA Secretary O.W. Page with a red wax seal affixed to the paper next to their signatures.
Manley also acquired from the auction and donated a brief letter handwritten by Page to Potichke, dated May 28, 1894 acknowledging his membership application. It was written on the only known surviving example of early ANA letterhead stationery that lists Board of Officers and Board of Trustees members in 1894. There are also two receipts to Potichke signed by Page for 50 cents in dues and a 50-cent initiation fee.
“I have never seen another of these early membership certificates, and that includes the archives of the ANA itself,” said Sklow, who serves as the ANA Secretary and Historian. “The certificate is a remarkable item, possibly unique, and a truly rare piece of ANA history. Coupled with the letter from Secretary Page and the two receipts it makes a complete accounting of Mr. Potichke joining the ANA 118 years ago when the ANA had not yet achieved its third birthday.”
In 1899, Dr. Heath reassigned membership numbers, and Potichke’s was changed from 196 to 72.
“This is a continuation of a number of significant donations made to the ANA by Dwight Manley. He’s made major donations to the Florence Schook School of Numismatics, to the ANA library’s renovation, and even donated the oldest illustrated numismatic book, which is now housed in the library’s rare book room,” said ANA Executive Director Jeff Shevlin. “His continued support and significant contributions help the ANA to keep strengthening the hobby.”
The American Numismatic Association’s Dwight N. Manley Library is the world’s largest numismatic lending library with more than 100,000 books, auction catalogs, periodicals, videos, DVDs and slide sets. It is located at ANA headquarters, 818 N. Cascade Ave., in Colorado Springs, Colo., and is open to the public from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Additional information is available by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and on the ANA web site, www.money.org.
The American Numismatic Association is a congressionally chartered nonprofit educational organization dedicated to encouraging people to study and collect money and related items. The ANA helps its 28,000 members and the public discover and explore the world of money through its vast array of education and outreach programs, as well as its museum, library, publications, conventions and seminars. For more information, call 719-632-2646 or go to www.money.org.