March 27, 2014 – The Trustees of the American Numismatic Society have voted to award John W. Adams the 2014 Archer M. Huntington Award in recognition of his outstanding career contributions to numismatic scholarship. The award ceremony will be held on Saturday, 26 April 2014 at the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston. The event will include Mr. Adams’ presentation of the Silvia Mani Hurter Memorial Lecture, titled “A Recidivist Collector”, followed by a reception in his honor.
John. W. Adams. © Courtesy American Numismatic Society, NYC.
John Adams’ research in the field of numismatics focuses on American and European medals, numismatic literature, and large cents. In his early research, his approach is largely bibliographical. His Monographs on “Varieties of United States Large Cents, 1793–1794”, published in 1976, provided a concise introduction to the various key publications in this field. His two volumes of “United States Numismatic Literature” (1982, 1990) are among the most useful bibliographical aids on American numismatic auction catalogues available; in particular Adams’ erudite introductions to the various collectors are widely quoted.
In the last 15 years, Adams has focused primarily on medals, both European and American. His book “The Indian Peace Medals of George III, or, His Majesty’s Sometime Allies”, published in 1999, demonstrates his breadth of knowledge; through careful numismatic analysis Adams was able to expand our knowledge in this series. His approach to medals is largely historical, and his subsequent work on “The Medals Concerning John Law and the Mississippi System” has become a standard work on the peculiar medals satirizing this famous financial crisis of the early 18th century. In this book Adams illustrates his command of historical, financial and numismatic matters. Together with Anne Bentley, Adams wrote “Comitia Americana and Related Medals: Underappreciated Monuments to Our Heritage” (2007). In this exhaustive analysis, Adams and Bentley rewrote our understanding of this important early American series of medals. It is now the definitive historical and numismatic study on the subject.
Again, in 2010 Adams wrote the consummate book “Medallic Portraits of Admiral Vernon: Medals Sometimes Lie” with Fernando Chao and in collaboration with Anne Bentley. This work provides a study of the many varieties of the Vernon series, which often differ only in tiny details, provides historical context, offering a concordance with the many prior studies and much more. While there is an impressive corpus of books by Adams, he also is a frequent contributor to conference proceedings, journals and other publications. He has published articles about coin sales, individual medals, numismatic personalities, and hoards, to name just a few. His long involvement as editor of The MCA Advisory has turned this publication into a popular, well-informed publication.
The Chairman of the Society’s Huntington Committee, Dr. Jere Bacharach, described the honoree with the following words: “What distinguishes John Adams from other writers is his passion for history, a beautiful, academically correct writing style, and diligence in seeking out overlooked historical and numismatic sources.” John W. Adams received an AB from Princeton (1957) and a MBA from Harvard (1959). He founded Adams, Harkness & Hill in 1966, an investment bank in Boston, where for the next 40 years he served variously as Director of Research, Chairman and CEO. He has served as a Trustee of the Massachusetts Historical Society, where he was instrumental in conserving its coin cabinet, and as President of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society and the Medal Collectors of America. He is a Fellow of the American Antiquarian Society, as well a Fellow of the American Numismatic Society where he also served on its Board of Trustees and was an active Chairman of the Library Committee.
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