The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 11, Number 36, September 7, 2008, Article 23


Mitch Ernst writes:
To your knowledge has anything ever been written and published about Byron Reed and his collection (other than the Spinks Auction Catalog description about the sale)? Thanks.

Well, I have some ephemera in my files (pictured below), but I'm sure our E-Sylum readers will know of more definitive references on Reed and his collection. -Editor
  • A eight-page self-covered booklet published for the dedication of the Byron Reed Collection Exhibit at the Western Heritage Museum, April 7, 1989. Present was "Dr. Richard G. Doty, Associate Curator of the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution."
  • A one-sheet folded pamphlet c1988 published by the Western Heritage Museum
  • A one-sheet folded pamphlet from 1988 published by the Western Heritage Museum

Byron Reed Coin Collection Byron Reed Exhibition Bryon Reed Collection pamphlet

Going straight to the source, I asked Dick Doty, who was there for the exhibit opening. He writes:
Theres surprising little information about Reed. He came out in the late 1850s, I think, got into real estate, did well, collected, left his collection to the city when he died in 1891.

I was involved with the collection on three occasions. I appraised it at the end of 1985 not sure how they contacted me, but they did and I went. Then there was the dedication of the new exhibit in May 1989, and a final trip out in early fall 1996 or 1997 to advise them on what to do next. Lawrence Lee was their curator at that point.

The eternal problem with that collection was an ongoing tug-of-war between the Mayors office and various other branches of the government. The first time I saw it, it had superb US stuff, including both varieties of 1829 5$, in proof; a stellar collection of German thalers, and, for what its worth, the best collection of Sutler tokens anywhere, incl. manufacturers samples. I always meant to get back out and work on the last, but never did.

Dr. Lawrence J. Lee of Lincoln, NE writes:
It so happens I will be leading a tour Wednesday night of the Byron Reed gallery in Omaha's Western Heritage Museum for members of the Lincoln Coin Club as part of our monthly club program. Club members will board a private coach here in Lincoln, ride to Omaha (1 hour), tour the Reed exhibit and then go to Piccolo's Steak House for a much-anticipated feast.

Mitch Ernest will be at the museum as our guest and I will tell him about the two, 3-ring notebooks I have of articles and commentary regarding Reed, his biography, his coins, various fights through the years to sell his collection, the selling of portions of his collection in 1996, the opening of the exhibit in 1998 and the ongoing trials and tribulations of the collection. I will also have a copy of the final report I submitted to the Omaha City Council in 2001, summarizing the collection and its holdings.

We won't get to see it on our tour as it is in a climate-controlled vault, but Reed's library of numismatic books and catalogs (said by Charles Davis in 2001 to be "the last 19th Century numismatic library") is still intact. The collection contains 183 pre-1891 numismatic books (many first editions, including Hickcox, Maris, Crosby, Dickeson, Slafter, Frossard, Doughty and Baker) and 237 auction catalogs (no Attinelli but virtually complete runs of Bangs & Co, Chapman Bros., etc., and almost all with "prices realized" marked in them). Reed's remaining working library also includes another 874 general works, 162 newspapers and over 1,380 documents.

We anticipate having a great time. It's a pity everyone can't be a member of the Lincoln Coin Club.

The E-Sylum family is everywhere. Mitch's query shot from Lincoln, NE to me and Dick Doty in the Washington, DC area, and all the way back to Larry Lee in Lincoln. Perhaps our readers will have more to add about Byron Reed and his collection and library. The library is intriguing and has always interested me. I've never seen it, but would jump at the chance. As Charlie Davis stated, it is probably the only 19th century American numismatic library still intact - fascinating. -Editor

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at

To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor at this address:

To subscribe go to:



Copyright © 1998 - 2008 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS)
All Rights Reserved.

NBS Home Page
Contact the NBS webmaster