Huntington Coin Collection and Donation Protection

Zhengcheng Li


Mr. Archer M. Huntington (1870-1955) was one of the greatest collector and donor in American history at the early 20th century. He was the founder of Hispanic Society of America and the president of American Numismatic Society. During his lifetime, he set up one of the most important Hispanic coin collection and donated all these coins to Hispanic Society of America in the meanwhile loaned to American Numismatic for study and research purpose. After he passed by, at 2008 Hispanic Society of America sued against America Numismatic Society for getting back the Huntington coin collection with other related documents and photos. Hispanic Society of America won the case and got back the coins. After that, they sold all the coin’s collection with the help of Sotheby. Based on my study, this auction violated the will of the donor and the relevant government authority were also not fulfilling their obligations. Through my article, I would analysis the whole case and try to use evidence to proof that Hispanic Society of America does not have the moral right to auction Huntington Coin Collection and the Charity Bureau does not make enough work to prevent such culture tragedy. Further discussion about how to prevent such culture tragedy would also be discussed. This article could be reference to those people who would like to donate their collections to museums and institutions.