George Kolbe forwarded the description for the photo record of Colonel Green’s remarkable collection of United States gold coins. It is lot 80 in George's upcoming sale of the Stack Family Library.
Joseph B. Stack’s personal set of this monumental photographic record, with his name stamped in gilt on an inset leather
label at the base of each front cover. Affixed to the rear pastedowns are the printed labels of B. A. MARTIN, the official
Stack’s special edition binder.
Colonel Green’s remarkable collection of United States gold coins, including many pieces
from the famed Waldo Newcomer collection, remains one of the finest ever formed. The three volumes present here
posthumously record his front-line collection in each of the series depicted. Taken around the time the coins were sold, in
1943 and 1944, to His Majesty The King of Egypt, these well-produced photographs continue to be extremely significant
and particularly important, particularly for establishing subsequent pedigrees. A number of Colonel Green/King Farouk
coins passed into the hands of John Jay Pittman, Harry W. Bass, Jr., and other major collectors.
Only a few copies of each
of the above volumes were prepared and, to our knowledge, a complete set has never before come to auction. In our June
10, 2000 Harry W. Bass, Jr. Library sale, we sold examples of the half eagle and eagle volumes bound in quarter leather
@ $12,000 & $11,000 respectively, the only previous appearance at auction of either volume. The quarter eagle volume
included here is the first to be publicly sold.
The son of financier Hetty Green—popularly known as the “Witch of Wall
Street”—Colonel E. H. R. Green spent untold sums in the 1920s and 1930s on his hobbies. He vies with King Farouk as
perhaps the most eccentric coin collector of the twentieth century. Both men shared an intense interest in painted women
and pornography, not necessarily in that order; Green reportedly displayed a stuffed and mounted whale penis inside the
entry of one of his homes.
An excellent biographical sketch of Green is featured in Special Supplement III of the Bowers
and Merena August 30, 1999 catalogue of the Walter H. Childs collection, and Arthur H. Lewis’ appropriately named
full-length biography, The Day They Shook the Plum Tree, perhaps best tells the remarkable story of Hetty Green and her
unusual son, who, upon Hetty’s death, spent some $3,000,000 a year on yachts, coins, stamps, jewels, orchid culture, and
other more libertine endeavors.
It is interesting to note that Walter Breen’s famous 1841-“O” $5 does indeed seem to be
depicted in the half eagle volume, due to an unfortunate shadow effect also seen on the illustrations of several other 1840s
Charlotte mint emissions. The entertaining story of this contretemps is well told on page 231 of David Aker’s October
21-23, 1997 catalogue of the John Jay Pittman collection (vide lot 4).
Thanks are due P. Scott Rubin for his assistance with
Wayne Homren, Editor
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