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The E-Sylum: Volume 3, Number 40, October 1, 2000, Article 6


Bob Cochran writes:

"Just a short note to let you know that bank histories "grew up" over the weekend! Currency Auctions of America auctioned Michael J. Sullivan's incredible collection of bank & banking histories, formed over a 15-year period.

I was in the audience Saturday night, and so was Michael. Neither of us really knew what was about to happen, but both Lynn Glaser and Allen Mincho of CAA said they had some "strong" book bids on several lots. Well, we found out pretty quickly.

CAA had listed Michael's collection with their national bank notes from each state. The first lot was the 2-volume set "Banking in Alabama 1816-1860" by William Brantley. It's a scarce SET, because copies of the first volume are quite tough to find; a large hoard of the second volume came on the market a few years ago. In the blink of an eye the lot sold for $250! A group of ten Alabama bank histories brought $95; three Arizona titles fetched $140, another AZ group of eight sold for $160.

A beautiful copy of "Financial California: An Historical Review of the Beginnings and Progress of Banking in the State," bound in the standard red leather, brought an astounding $550! Right after that, Michael's deluxe four- volume set of "Financing an Empire: History of Banking in California," by Ira Cross, sold for $750.

Nine Colorado bank histories and 2 references by Fred R. Hiehaus ("Development of Banking in Colorado," and "Seventy Years of Progress: History of Banking in Colorado, 1876-1949") sold to a dealer with Colorado ties for an incredible $600!"

Consignor Michael Sullivan files this report:

"The entire collection realized about $23,000 (I didn't calculate this to the dollar yet) which matched my pre-sale "guess" of $20-25,000. The 12-volume Financing an Empire: Banking in CA, IL, and PA in deluxe cloth realized $2050. In general, states with limited bank histories available (Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, etc.) did really well in the sale. The only "soft spots" in the sale were Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, driven by the sheer number of books in these states (over 100 each).

In going through the catalogue there are some "old friends" that took years to locate. I would estimate that 90% of the material was offered to me only once in 15 years. However, there are a few standouts which I always thought were the best finds:

  • 1) History of Banking in Florida, 1910 which is one of two known copies (lot 1914).
  • 2) Banking in Hawaii, 1927 which is the only bank history from Hawaii I was able to obtain prior to the 1980s; (lot 1932).
  • 3) History of the Bank of Kentucky, 1895 written by Civil War General Basil Duke and includes several wonderful banknote plates (lot 2113).
  • 4) A History of the First National Bank of Marshall, TX in deluxe format with original checks from the bank laid in (lot 2608).
  • 5) One of my favorite pieces is a history of the Planters' Bank of Tennessee, 1872 written by D. Weaver who was the bank's cashier during the Civil War. This is the only first hand account of banking during the Civil War I ever discovered (lot 2601).

Most Important: Hats off to Currency Auctions of America (L. Glaser and A. Mincho) for an outstanding catalogue and sale. They handled the collection expertly. I was glad to see the collection dispersed to numerous banknote collectors many of whom now have the basis for great state collections."

Wayne Homren, Editor

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