February 14, 2013 – The American Numismatic Society received an endowment gift for a lecture series in memory of former ANS Fellows Vladimir and Elvira Clain-Stefanelli. Both were frequent visitors to the Society when they worked for Hesperia Art Galleries and then Stack’s in the 1950s. In 1956 Dr. Vladimir Clain-Stefanelli moved to Washington, DC to become the Curator of the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution. His wife, Elvira, was to join him a year later as Assistant Curator, thereby continuing a life-long partnership in the field of numismatics. The lecture series will allow the ANS to organize a series of lectures on a variety of subjects covering ancient, medieval and modern coinage, which represent the wide research interests of the couple. The first Clain-Stefanelli Lecture will be held in 2014.
Dr. Vladimir Clain-Stefanelli was initially a well-known specialist of Eastern European coinage, and in particular of his native Romania; his doctoral dissertation was about the ancient coinage of Callatis. In 1938 he and his newlywed wife left Romania as he had been honored with a fellowship to the Romanian Academy in Rome. Having survived internment at Fichtenhain, a Sonderlager of the Buchenwald Concentration camp in Germany, the Stefanellis found themselves again in Rome after the war. While in Rome they worked for the Santamaria firm, where they came into contact with many of the outstanding numismatists in Europe at that time.
As curators of the National Numismatic Collection they became eminent specialists in a number of fields as well as US coinage and banking. The National Numismatic Collection grew under their direction to almost one million objects. Their wide-spread interests resulted in their authoring many books and articles in English and German. The American Numismatic Society has recently acquired a large number of research notes and material of the Clain-Stefanellis for its archives, which will preserve their memory while allowing further research in areas such as the ancient coinage of the Black Sea region and US medals.
Dr. Ute Wartenberg Kagan, Executive Director of the American Numismatic Society, expressed her gratitude for the endowment gift, “The Society is delighted to have received such a generous donation, which allows us to bring scholars to the ANS while keeping the memory of Vladimir and Elvira Clain-Stefanelli alive. Few numismatic scholars in the 20th century have been so committed to our discipline, especially under such adverse circumstances. We are especially grateful to Larry Stack and Harvey Stack, who were instrumental in bringing this gift to the Society. This lecture series will also be a testimony to the close friendship of the Stack Family with the Clain-Stefanellis.”
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