The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 13, Number 49, December 5, 2010, Article 10


After learning about the Truman collection and its connection to the Stack family, naturally I thought of Harvey Stack and asked him what he could tell us. Below is his excellent submission on the history and composition of the collection. Thanks! -Editor

In the late 1940's Joseph B. Stack, my uncle, became friends with John W. Snyder, Truman's Secretary of the Treasury. John W. Snyder was a coin collector and we at Stack's assisted him in forming a collection, different than others we had help develop.

The collection was in honor of all the Presidents' and featured one coin of each denomination that might have been issued during his Presidency. For example, for George Washington, you would need a Half Cent, large Cent , Half Dime, Dime, Quarter , Half Dollar, Silver Dollar, a Quarter Eagle, Half Eagle and Eagle. As long as each denomination was issued within the dates of the Presidency. You only need ONE. For Franklin D. Roosevelt you needed a Cent,5 Cent, Dime, Quarter and Half Dollar, one of each design of Commemorative Half Dollar issued during Roosevelt Presidency.

Each and every President was represented in similar manner,( If more than one design was issued during a Presidency, than an example of each design was part of the collection. In other words each President was repre- sented by a denomination, issued during his term of office, or you might consider this A PRESIDENTIAL TYPE SET. !

Each Presidential set was housed in large, white plastic holders,which I seem to remember measured 10 x 18 inches, a portrait of each president was an engraving obtained from the Bureau of Engraving mounted on the top of each holder, and gold stamped with the name of Each President, his years in office, and the denomination of each coin on display. It was surely an unusual idea and was great to work on. The quality ranged from lightly circulated to Mint State.

Before the collection was completed, John W. Snyder brought Harry S Truman into the Stack's Showroom on 46th Street, in order that the President could meet each of the Stack Family who were working on his collection.At that time, Morton, Joseph B., Harvey G, Benjamin and Norman were all present and we met Harry S. Truman in person. He stayed with us about an hour and questioned us about the collection, (There exists somewhere, maybe at Coin World or in one of our old files, the picture of Harry S. Truman being shown part of the developing collection by my uncle, Joseph B. Stack.

After the Truman Library was completed, John W. Snyder presented this Presidential Coin Collection to the Library.

The fact that each display board was somewhat different, it attracted loads of attention by the many thousands who visited the library.

It was so popular, that thieves broke into the Library and stole it. !

All were heartbroken, but there was at the time no funds available through the Parks Department (who were in charge of the Library) to replace it.

We at Stack's felt that the exposure of such a collection, and its educational value was so important, that the Stack Family, made a public appeal to collectors about the country to contribute a coin or two from their collection in order to rebuild the collection. The Stack Family made a substantial contribution itself.

The story made headlines in papers such as Coin World, Numismatic News and of course The Numismatist.

Contributions were sent to our offices, and the earliest to arrive that was needed, was set aside for rebuilding the collection. We bought ads in the trade publications, and Margo Russell, the early editor of Coin World, contacted us and said she would see that the story and progress of the restoration of the original collection, would be followed several time a month, as a news story, a progress report and not as an advertisement. That offer was a great contribution for getting contributions.

Many coins were sent in, duplicates were returned to the donor, who were asked, using a Want List, to contribute a different coin. Some wanted to contribute cash, but we didn't want to make this a commercial enterprise. So we asked those to purchase a missing coin from any dealer they wished, and send the coin to Stack's for inclusion in the collection. The appeal ran for about 2 years and the collection was completed (as it once existed !)

Each donor received a pro-forma receipt from Stack's, with the authority of the Park Department to issue same, and each donor received later an official receipt from the government.

The collection, in its new form, was returned to the Library, and was acknowledged as a Public and Stack Family Contribution.

It was a chore to do, and the Stack Family was proud to be part of it.

(I might add, that during the time the Stack Family was active in numismatics, we contributed coins, time and devotion to the collections at the Smithsonian, American Numismatic Society, American Numismatic Association, and numerous museums and library nationwide. We always felt that the more displayed, the more the public would appreciate the hobby, with the hope that coin collecting would grow in importance.)

Thanks, Harvey. Can any of our readers supply a copy of the Harry Truman photo, or one of the donation receipts? Do we have a reader in the Denver area willing to visit the museum opening and send back a report? -Editor

A web search turned up a couple more tidbits about the robbery. -Editor

"One of the most valuable and complete collections of U.S. coins in existence was stolen from the Truman Library in Independence, Mo., where it was being exhibited by its owner, H.S.T.'s onetime Secretary of the Treasury, John W. Snyder. Flying home from Manhattan to preside over the investigation, Truman had his own theory about who stole the $50,000 collection. "Professional thieves have been hired by some coin collector to come and get this collection," he fumed."

Source: Time Magazine, Friday, Nov 23, 1962

November 12, 1962 John W SYNDER's (1895-1985) coin collection was stolen from the Harry S Truman library. My 1906 Barber dime (minted at Denver) was among 167 donations accepted to help replace this collection. Under letter dated October 28, 1963, SYNDER sent me an autographed, series 1935 D, Silver certificate dollar bill. Rose CONWAY, President TRUMAN's (1884-1972) secretary and friend of my father, had Harry sign it for me April 1970 then I contacted Georgia Neese (Clark) GRAY (1900-1995) at her Topeka bank, whose signature appeared on some $30 billion dollars, she very graciously agreed to sign mine which occurred June 23, 1970. Mine may very well be the only (or among very few) such dollar bills with all three signatures, ---- our President, his Secretary of Treasury and Treasurer of the United States.

Harry Truman signed dollar

To read Bill Boggess's memoir, see:


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