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The E-Sylum: Volume 3, Number 48, November 19, 2000, Article 10


Pete Smith writes:

"I would like to comment on the study and collection of coin holders.

Earlier this year I did volunteer work at the Minnesota Historical Society reviewing their coin collection. Most of the collection has no historical connection to Minnesota and may be considered for deaccession. The largest donation was made in 1921 by a former president of the Society, Charles Phelps Noyes, and part of my contribution was a biography of Noyes.

It is clear that the coins have no connection to Minnesota. They might have a value to the Society from a different perspective, representing a leasure-time activity of a prosperous Victorian gentleman. An additional part of my contribution was a review of books Noyes donated to the Society and what they said about his study of coins and his assembly of the collection.

After this study was well under way, it occurred to me that most of the collection was housed in brown Whitman envelopes. The collection was donated in 1921 and Whitman envelopes were not available until the 1950's. Other parts of the collection were kept with rectangular pieces of cardboard with round recesses to hold the coins. Many of the Noyes coins retained glue residue from an even earlier mounting. It was my conclusion that the collection, now being considered for reholdering in 2000, had been reholdered at least twice since it was donated. Any while this reholdering may protect the coins, it had destroyed the evidence of the way Noyes had inventoried, marked and stored his collection.

I found myself educating the curatorial staff on the history of coin holders. One of my recommendations was that examples of old holders be kept with the collection along with a description of previous reholdering. Although these notes add nothing to the value of individual coins, they are essential to understanding the historical context of the collection.

While collectors of "white" Morgan dollars or commemorative coins may have no interest, collectors of toned silver coins should study holders and their effect on toning. Advanced collectors preserve old envelopes and holders as part of the provenance of the coins history.

As with any specialty area, study of holders is not for everyone, but we should appreciate those who appreciate the topic and share their information with us."

Wayne Homren, Editor

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