The American Numismatic Society (ANS) announced that Gilles Bransbourg has been named Executive Director. He replaces Ute Wartenberg, who is stepping down as Executive Director after two decades leading the Society; she will remain at the ANS in the new position of Research Curator. “I am very pleased to hand over the reigns to Gilles, whose experience in academia and the financial world is perfect for an institution such as the ANS,” Ute Wartenberg said.
Gilles Bransbourg, Deputy Director of the Society since January 2018, has worked closely with Ute Wartenberg over the last year to facilitate the transition, and he assumed the position of Executive Director on November 1, 2019.
Welcoming Gilles Bransbourg
Gilles Bransbourg joined the Society in 2011 as an Adjunct Curator, then served as Associate Curator before assuming the role of Deputy Director in 2018. Among his many other contributions to the Society during that period, he supervised the NEH-funded Online Coins of the Roman Empire (OCRE) project and curated the exhibition “Signs of Inflation,” at The Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Prior to joining the ANS, in 2009, Gilles Bransbourg was a Visiting Research Scholar at New York University’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, where he retains a Research Associate affiliation.
In 1982, at the age of 17, he won the French Concours Général award in History. He then went on to study Economics, Mathematics and Statistics in Paris at Lycée Louis-Le-Grand, École Polytechnique, Sciences Po and École Nationale de la Statistique et de l’Administration Économique. Subsequently Gilles Bransbourg became a market economist, then specializing in financial derivatives, and held executive roles in the banking sector in Paris, Riyadh and London. He stepped down from his last position in 2005, in order to engage fully with his lifelong passion, history. By 2010, he had completed a Ph.D. in History at École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris.
Gilles Bransbourg’s research deals with comparative economic and monetary history. He has published extensively in a range of academic journals, conference proceedings, and books, and he provided chapters or sections to “La Politique Monétaire de l’Euro” (2009), “Fiscal Regimes and the Political Economy of Premodern States” (2015), “Le Gouvernement des Citoyens” (2017), and “Debasement: Manipulation of Coin Standards in Pre-Modern Monetary Systems” (2020). Among numerous contributions to economic history, he has published “Rome and the Economic Integration of Empire” as ISAW Papers 3 (2012), “Capital in the Sixth Century: the Dynamic of Tax and Estate in Egypt” in Journal of Late Antiquity (2016), which addresses the question of fiscal fairness across the social spectrum in Late Antiquity, and coauthored with Roger Bagnall, as ISAW Papers 14 (2019), “The Constantian Monetary Revolution.”
In addition, he is a frequent guest speaker in academic colloquiums and venues. Gilles Bransbourg lectured in Economics at Sciences Po between 1990 and 1994, at the Executive Master of Finance of Sciences Po between 2007 and 2015, at New York University in 2016, and has been offering a graduate seminar at ISAW since 2018.
Gilles Bransbourg was made a knight in the French Order of the Ordre des Palmes Académiques in 2014. As a financial consultant and as one committed to philanthropic endeavors, he serves on several boards and financial committees and advises or helps a range of institutions, foundations, and corporations in Europe and the US. He has contributed to the establishment of an English-French dual language curriculum in New York public schools.
“I am honored that the Board of Trustees has given me this opportunity to continue the work of Ute Wartenberg, secure the financial well-being of the Society, and seek ways to expand its role further. I am also most grateful to Ute, who has provided continuous mentoring and support during this transition period,” Gilles Bransbourg said. “I relish as well the challenge of enhancing the leadership role the ANS has assumed in the numismatic world and ensuring that it remains a vital institution for future generations of professional and amateur enthusiasts. At the same time, the ANS’ ability to associate numismatics more closely with economic, cultural, and art history offers exciting prospects.” ANS President, Sydney Martin, stated that the Board had voted unanimously to appoint Gilles Bransbourg. “We are so pleased to have found such an accomplished and talented individual as Gilles Bransbourg to lead the Society.”
Ute Wartenberg Returns to Full-Time Research
Prior to joining the ANS, Ute Wartenberg had already built an academic reputation, with a focus on ancient Greek coinage. After her education in Saarbrücken, Germany, she went to Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and was awarded a doctorate in papyrology. Subsequently, from 1991 to 1998, she worked as Curator of Greek Coins in the British Museum in London. Her publications include over 50 books and articles on papyrology and numismatics, including Coins Hoards VIII and Coin Hoards IX (with Andrew Meadows), After Marathon: War, Society and Money in Fifth-Century Greece; and The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, Vol. LXIV. Among her many honors and academic awards are the Ehrenpreis der Gesellschaft für Internationale Geschichte and being elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.
Ute Wartenberg assumed her leadership role in 1999, during a period of severe financial crisis for the Society. At the time, the ANS – which was founded in 1858 – had purchased a building at 140 William Street, near Wall Street, where it planned to move from its nearly century-long residence in northern Manhattan. But it had to undertake a huge renovation project of its new headquarters, and simultaneously was forced to deal with an annual deficit of $1 million and the inescapable necessity of cutting its staff in half. “This was the hardest task I faced in my two decades at the Society, and it undoubtedly had a huge impact in my subsequent commitment to the staff going forward.” Ute Wartenberg said. Ultimately, the Society’s Trustees sold the building, which helped put the ANS on a positive financial footing going forward, and relocated to its present home on Varick St.
During her tenure, Ute Wartenberg carried out a rigorous program of modernization, which was based on the concept of maximizing the limited resources of the ANS to focus on a few discrete goals. “It would be an understatement to say that these early years as director were straightforward,” Ute Wartenberg said, “but I benefited enormously from the advice and friendship I received from ANS Presidents Donald Partrick, Roger Siboni and more recently Sydney Martin.”
Among many efforts to secure the Society’s future, Ute Wartenberg engaged in extensive fundraising from members outside New York City. She also developed partnerships with other institutions, such as the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which provided its magnificent ground-floor space for a museum. In 2001, Alan Greenspan opened “Drachmas, Doubloons and Dollars. A History of Money.” The exhibit highlighted many of the ANS’s treasures and was viewed by more than 400,000 visitors over a decade.
Over the past 20 years, Ute Wartenberg steadily built the ANS into an institution of both national and international renown, and she leaves her post with the Society in a far more secure position. Today, the endowment is at approximately $43 million. Since 1999, over 45,000 coins and other objects have been donated to the Society’s collection, including the Julius Korein Collection of Gobrecht Dollars, the Abe and Marian Scheuer Sofaer collections, and the Richard B. Witschonke Collection of provincial coins of the Roman Republic. In 2018 Ute Wartenberg was able to purchase for the Society in a bankruptcy court the archives of dies, medals, and die-shells of the Medallic Art Company and thus save this invaluable treasure for the nation and for future scholarship.
One of her most impactful legacies will no doubt be the strong digital presence of the ANS in the numismatic world. Thanks to the visionary efforts of former ANS President Harry W. Bass, Jr., the Society’s internet identity and its collection databases were already in place when Ute Wartenberg took over in 1999, but she championed this program by adding staff and funding, and in recent years has directed an ever increasing share of the Society’s resources to online activities. Now, more than 500,000 coins, some 80,000 books and pamphlets, and 450 archival collection records are available online. The Society also supports collaborative efforts with other major coin cabinets in order to create Linked Open Data (LOD) for use in databases of numismatic material, which were largely funded by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Additionally, the Society has revived its numismatic publishing department, which is again one of the significant publishers of serious numismatic research in print and digital formats.
Ute Wartenberg served on many committees during her term, including as first Chairperson of the Citizen Coinage Advisory Committee, and she continues her roles as a member of the International Numismatic Council and of the Anti-Counterfeiting Educational Foundation, Inc. She was also recently appointed Chairperson of the International Committee for Money and Banking Museums.
“Through Dr. Wartenberg’s leadership, the ANS has been transformed from a financially precarious institute to a healthy one with an international reputation as among the finest numismatic institutions of its kind in the world,” notes Kenneth L. Edlow, Chairman of the Board of Trustees. “It boasts a magnificent and world-renowned collection, significant scholarship and research, a thriving publications department, and expanding digital presence, all supported by a healthy endowment. Dr. Wartenberg’s own rigorous scholarship and her incredible charisma have transformed the organization into the flourishing institution that we are proud to be a part of today.” “It’s been a real joy to work alongside Dr. Wartenberg for nearly two decades,” said Chief Curator Dr. Peter van Alfen, “and to see the ANS’s astounding transformation take place under her watch. Not least among her achievements has been building a team that works very hard but has wonderful esprit de corps, certainly a reflection of her diligence and charm.”
For more information about the American Numismatic Association, visit their website.
You will find Gilles Bransbourg in our Who’s who.
CoinsWeekly already reported on Wartenberg’s resignation as Executive Director.