The E-Sylum:  Volume 7, Number 4, January 25, 2004, Article 19


  Chris Fuccione writes: "Here is some info I had saved on
  Elvira Clain-Stefanelli.  This might shed a different light on the
  Josiah K. Lilly story.   This is from

  "This great collection came to our Museum in a very unusual
  way. Since Mr. Lilly did not leave in his will any provisions for
  its  disposal, it was decided by the executors of the estate to
  donate it "intact" to the National Numismatic Collection: the
  Indiana Congressional delegation with the Honorable William
  Bray and Congressman Andrew Jacobs, Jr., initiated legislation
  in Congress which ultimately resulted in the delivery of the
  collection to the Smithsonian. In exchange the Lilly estate
  received a credit of $5,534,808 on its federal estate tax.
  This amount was determined by expert appraisors, and
  jointly agreed upon by the estate and the appropriate
  federal authorities. It would seem like the collection cost
  the United States tax payers over five million dollars, in
  fact, the actual cost was considerably lower, since the
  estate had to pay on the above amount federal estate and
  Indiana inheritance taxes which reduced the price to less
  than half its initial estimated amount. In "recognition for the
  successful acquisition and display of the Josiah K. Lilly
  collection" in 1973 Dr. V. Clain-Stefanelli and myself were
  given the Smithsonian's gold medal for Exceptional Service."

 This comes from an interview of hers.

 "LEGACY: How much did the Lilly collection expand the
  Smithsonian's holdings of U.S. coins?

  CLAIN- STEFANELLI: Lilly is virtually complete. Only one
  or two coins are missing. But, it duplicates many areas of the
  collection and it could still undergo an improvement in condition.

 LEGACY: So Lilly was not the finest known in many cases?

  CLAIN- STEFANELLI: Correct. But there are many great
  rarities including a large number of unique territorial and private
  gold pieces in his collection. Where he tremendously increased
  our collection was in Latin American. It's almost as complete
  as the U.S. portion. Brazil might have a better collection than
  we have of their coins, but they don't have the other Latin
  American countries. It is fantastic, and was a great addition to
  our collection."

  This comes further down in the interview.
  "LEGACY: I have heard that Vladimir did quite a bit of trading
  in order to get certain coins.

  CLAIN- STEFANELLI: No. We were not allowed to trade.
  Up to this day, we haven't traded one single coin from the
  collection. We traded a large group of Mexican silver dollars
  which came in a block. Those we could trade. That was the
  only trade, and that was after the death of my husband.

  LEGACY: I had heard a story about a 1794 dollar that had
  been here since the 1850s and it was apparently traded. I was
  curious for what.

  CLAIN-STEFANELLI: Not under his time and not under
  my time. And I will tell you, up to about three or four years
  ago, it was forbidden to trade any objects. It started with the
  art museums of the Smithsonian. They made some bad trades
  about 15 years ago and after that, it was an absolute no-no.

  LEGACY: Do you see that as a possibility in the future, as
  one way to get rid of duplicates and get new acquisitions?

  CLAIN-STEFANELLI: Yes, it could be. But it's with many
  "ifs." It would have to get the approval of our legal office and
  it would have to be something that can be proven as
  100-percent fair. An unfair trade is what they're afraid of. So,
  auctions would be the only way for us to go.

  LEGACY: It sounds like an outright trade would be virtually

  CLAIN- STEFANELLI: As long as I am here, if I can avoid
   it,  I would, because it's a lot of headaches. If I take this coin
  and want to trade it, I have to go through all the records and
  make absolutely certain that there is no possibility of there
  being some strings attached to it.

  Now, no one in their right mind would trade rarities, so trading
  is only for the common coins where you would have duplicates.
  But you have to do a lot of research for coins that might be
  worth $20, maybe $50. 1 might have to spend days for one
  single coin to make certain it's completely free.

  LEGACY: What do you mean by "strings attached?"

  CLAIN- STEFANELLI: So many things were donated over
  the past hundred or so years that our collection has existed,
  that there might be some hidden document, something that
  says the coins cannot be traded. If you give me something,
  a donation, and say, "It has to stay here in perpetuity," I
  cannot touch it."

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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