Bruce W. Smith submitted the following question about the whereabouts of the Ruth Hill world paper money collection. Can anyone help?
I would like to know the present location of the world paper money collection of Ruth Hill (Mrs. Adolph B. Hill 1898-1995). She began collecting paper money in the 1950's, shortly after her husband died. She was one of the founding members of the International Bank Note Society (IBNS), and her collection is said to have been huge.
When the Keller manuscript for a catalog of world paper money became available in the 1960's, she bought it and donated it to the IBNS. The plan was for the IBNS to publish it, country by country, and several sections were published. I heard after her death that she had willed her collection (rich in signature varieties and other varieties) to one of the numismatic societies -- perhaps the ANS in New York. Can anyone confirm this?
I also spoke some years ago with St .Louis coin dealer Dusty Royer, who was appointed to "prepare" the collection for the organization. He told me he took out a lot of duplicates and disposed of them before turning it over. I hope this doesn't mean he stripped out all those varieties which Mrs. Hill spent a lifetime obtaining. But I do know that Ruth often bought banknotes in lots, and she may very well have had duplicates even of the varieties. How can we find out? Where is the collection today?
Bruce soon sent me a follow-up.
I should have checked my files before asking for information about Ruth Hill's collection. In the file I have a clipping from Coin World 25 May 1998 (page 40), containing an article by Gene Hessler on Ruth Hll (including a photo of her at a coin show). The article begins:
"In the Oct. 6, 1997 issue of Coin World, Michele Orzano informed readers about the collection of the late Ruth Hill, that will be made available to collectors in late 1998. ..... She made certain her collection would remain intact as a research collection for serious collectors."
This suggests the collection was donated to some organization, but doesn't say which one. I don't have a clipping of Orzano's article, so I don't know what was reported in that article. I also remember hearing a rumor that the collection was donated to Eric Newman's Numismatic Museum in St. Louis. If true, this would explain why the collection has disappeared. The museum is still open, now at the campus of Washington University in St. Louis. Newman's numismatic library is also on display at the museum, but cannot be used (except by special appointment). The museum is very small, but the display contains many fabulous Missouri notes. Is Ruth Hill's world collection also there?
Perhaps we'll have an answer next week. Stay tuned... Meanwhile, if anyone else has information on the collection, please let us know. Thanks.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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