The E-Sylum:  Volume 11, Number 7, February 17, 2008, Article 15


[Two weeks ago Alan V. Weinberg reviewed the catalog of
Heritage's sale of the Walter Husak collection of early
large cents.  This week he attended the sale in Long Beach
and files the following report.  Many thanks to Alan for
recording his observations and sharing them with our readers
and numismatic posterity. -Editor]

I've collected for over 50 years & have attended most of
the major numismatic auctions in that time. Only occasionally
is there an impending sale that creates so much anticipation
and "buzz". The Walt Husak large cent sale of early dates
1793-1814 was one of those. I went to the auction room at
the Long Beach coin  show 45 minutes early to get a good
seat - one that faced the audience at the end of a front
table so that I could observe who was bidding and watch the
"action" unimpeded. I kept a heavily annotated catalogue,
as is my longtime practice, of starting/closing bids, buyers
and underbidders and their bid numbers.

The room filled quickly easily 1/2 hour before the sale
started at 5 PM while the bourse floor downstairs was still
open. It was like a college reunion of "copper weenies" -
almost everyone was there. There was electricity in the
air - it was palpable.  I thought: "You don't see this
very often".

Every seat was taken as Sam Foose, Heritage auction director,
explained the rules, introduced Walt and his wife, with
Walt's charming daughter and Walt's business partner Terry
Brenner and his wife in attendance. That was nice. Walt
took an embarrassed bow, all red in the face. Sam then
thanked Mark Borckardt & Denis Loring for their work
cataloguing, without which the sale would not have been
a numismatic highlight.

Everyone was there. Doug Bird, Jack Robinson, Wes Rasmussen,
John Manley, Tony Terranova, John Gervasoni, Jim McGuigan,
Tom Reynolds, Dan Holmes, Chris McCawley & Bob Grellman,
Steve Contursi (bidding by phone thru  Heritage representatives),
Gene Sherman, John Agre,  March Wells, Chris Napolitano, Stu
Levine, John Dannreuther, John Kraljevich, Al Boka, Steve
Ellsworth, Laurie Sperber, Dan Trollan, Dave McCarthy for
Kagin's, Denis Loring & wife Donna Levine, Dan Demeo, Paul
Gerrie, Bill Nagle, Phil Moore, Rich Burdick, Bill Noyes,
and so many others. Every seat was filled and a half dozen
people bidding stood on the sidelines.

Some of the highlights included: 1793 S-3 AU (all are EAC
grading) at $220,000 to Gervasoni  (all prices are hammer,
not including the 15% buyers fee);  1793 S-13 AU at $550,000
to Heritage's standing Paul Minshull representing a key client
on the phone from the sidelines; '93 S-14 cracked obverse die
VF at $110K to bidder 419 (1 of the few I didn't ID), 94 head
of 93 S18b AU at $220K to the same Minshull phone bidder,
apparently a very discerning collector.

A moment of audience levity was reached when a S33 1794
"wheel spoke" , one of the 1794 classics, opened up at
$8,000 and Tony Terranova immediately yelled out $40,000.
The auctioneer Foose, startled by the sudden & perhaps
unnecessary bid jump by Tony, asked if Tony was "in a hurry?"
Tony replied in his NYC accent "Yeah, I'm hungry!" alluding
to the promised Heritage sponsored Husak-hosted "champagne
buffet" following the auction which obviously still had two
hours to go. Everyone roared - a break in the auction room
tension.  Notwithstanding TT's bidding boldness, the rarity
closed at $90K to Chris McCawley representing advanced
collector Dan Holmes.

Other highlights: 94 S37 at $140K to Steve Ellsworth; the
first of SIX Lord St Oswald 94's in the Husak collection
the S45 part mint red MS63 at $130K to McCawley with 3 bidding
numbers; the eyebrow-raising Finest Known EF40 S48 Starred
Reverse at $300K open / $550K hammer, more than half a million
dollars, to John Gervasoni outlasting underbidders (in this
order) Laurie Sperber on the phone w/a client, Tony T at $475K
and Dave McCarthy for Kagins. The St Oswald S57 MS64 at $32.5K
 / $ 90K  to the same phone bidder number 7550 previously
mentioned on the 1794  18b and others

And then clearly the finest condition large cent in the
Husak collection and  the finest condition Lord St Oswald
large cent, the S67 MS65 (slabbed 67), 50% original mint
red, opening $120K and closing at a mind-numbing $425,000
hammer to phone bidder 7508 - likely Steve Contursi from
his phone rep - all three top bidders were phone bidders.
The St Oswald S69 MS64 part red to phone bidder 7510 (again
possibly Contursi from the Heritage phone rep) at $35K / $95K
with John Manley, who does not collect large cents per se,
the immediate underbidder; the 2nd finest condition 1794
St Oswald coin S71 MS65 with 50% original mint red $26K /
$220,000 to phone bidder 7550 mentioned above on the 18b
and other rarities; the 1795 S74 MS65 some mint red at
$45K/ $180K to Laurie Sperber with a phone client vs
Gervasoni and Manley.

The '96 Lib Cap S84 AU55 at $35K/$100K to bidder 608 whose
ID escaped me;  the famously pedigreed (back to 1845) 1799
S189  VF25 at $42.5K / $140K to Steve Ellsworth (audience
applause);  and finally the famous Finest Known 1807/6
small overdate AU50 at $65K / $140K to a beaming Doug Bird
vs Gervasoni - "Doug, is this for resale or a 'keeper' ?"

Prices were just plain silly. Jim McGuigan, much respected
early copper collector & dealer told me afterward: "Usually,
in a sale like this, there are some lots that slip through
the cracks, sell reasonably and can be resold at a profit.
That didn't happen. Everything went for top dollar."

The sale total was announced at the conclusion of the Husak
large cents: $10,703,000 including the buyer's fee of 15%.
Heritage surprised everyone in the audience with a
complimentary copy of Al Boka's 1794 large cent book ,
thanks to Al's generosity and friendship with Walt Husak.

Then everyone, including the by-then ravenous Tony T.,
adjourned to another room for  drinks and a lavish buffet
(oh, those Chinese vegetable rolls!) and camaraderie that
lasted another hour plus approaching 10 PM. Walt looked
like a beaming brand new father in the new-born ward,
smiling ear to ear with twinkling eyes. This was numismatics
at its best. Is Walt getting out of numismatics? Not on
your life! Like Robbie Brown of large cent and Brown Forman
Distillery fame, he's already forming a 2nd set of early
date varieties!  What? No more French vineyards?


  Wayne Homren, Editor

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