Founded in 1858 by a group of collectors sharing their interest in American coins and medals, it became a preservation and documentation organization that has done much to further medallic art in America.
Many of the early members were antiquarians and learned specialists. In 1893, stimulated by the Columbian Exhibition in Chicago, the ANS began the serious production of medals including ones commemorating the dedication of Grant’s Tomb in New York.
Under the leadership of President Andrew Zabriskie, the Society decided to establish a school, but that venture (1900-1905) was not successful. Since 1927, the group has produced only a few medals and has become primarily a research organization.