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NNP Blog

Aug 20 2021

Chase Manhattan Bank Money Museum Inventory on Newman Portal

The Chase Manhattan Bank Money Museum collection was formed in the early 20th century by Farran Zerbe, a president of the American Numismatic Association. The Chase bank acquired the collection from Zerbe in 1928 and most notably mounted an exhibit near Rockefeller Center, a mecca for tourists visiting New York City. Similar bank museums throughout the country were popular during this period of the 20th century, but over time their contribution to the bottom line was questioned by bank executives. The Chase Museum was closed in 1977 and much of the material was donated to the Smithsonian. Among the U.S. coins from the Chase collection, the Smithsonian acquired a high-grade 1794 dollar and an 1852 $50 gold “slug.” 

Smithsonian curators Vladimir and Elvira Clain-Stefanelli were justly proud of the Chase acquisition, and wrote in an internal memo “Its contents…were…highly coveted by the American Numismatic Society in New York, and by the American Numismatic Association, the powerful national organization of numismatists from Colorado Springs. The fact that we and not they were chosen as depository for this Collection increases our obligation to make the exhibit and the official presentation ceremony….a worthwhile event.” The American Numismatic Society was not completely left out, and received two important pieces from Chase, a Judd-13 eagle-on-globe 1792 pattern in white metal, and a class III 1804 dollar. 

Link to Chase Manhattan Museum inventory on Newman Portal: https://nnp.wustl.edu/library/archivedetail/539184
Link to Chase Manhattan pieces at the National Numismatic Collection: https://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/search?return_all=1&edan_local=1&edan_q=1979.1263&

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