Harvey Stack recently published a two-part blog article on the display of the Louis E. Eliasberg Collection at the Philadelphia Mint in 1976. It's an interesting tale, and I encourage everyone to read the entire articles. It involves a spat over the National Numismatic Collection, which had been transferred from the Mint to the Smithsonian many years before. The Mint, having constructed a new building, wanted the collection back. I've excerpted only the beginning and end of the tale, which stops at the installation of the Eliasberg collection for viewing in Philadelphia.
This is a story that is not to well known, of how a great numismatic collection, helped save the Smithsonian Exhibition during the 1976 Bicentennial Celebration of the United States. The great collection I refer to was the famous Louis E. Eliasberg Collection, part of my early life and experience in numismatics and the only complete collection of United States coins ever formed.
The Stack family in 1941 helped Mr. Eliasberg acquire for the sum of $110,000 the noted Clapp Collection which had been formed and housed in Washington DC. From that point on, virtually every addition to the collection came from Stack's.
Mr. Eliasberg was a very proud collector who loved to exhibit his collection to friends and others, mostly in Baltimore. He was a banker and financier and on the boards of many Maryland banks. Whenever a bank he was connected with had a celebration, anniversary or just wanted to attract people, Louis Eliasberg would display his collection, usually in the center halls of the bank with prepared booklets about the collection. He provided the money of the United States as an educational display, which usually lasted several weeks.
For those of you who never saw the collection on display, it was housed in large, vertical frames, on large rotating type stands, so that each side of the coin was visible to show the design, date on the obverse, and the mint marks on the reverse. These displays, first conceived by Eliasberg in the early 1950s, still could be used until the day the collection was finally sold. Tens of thousands of collectors saw the displays and were influenced to pursue collecting with the same profound interest and desires that motivated Louis Eliasberg.
Louis Eliasberg was a very active collector, and attended many meetings of the Baltimore coin clubs and regional and national conventions to learn as much as he could about the coins of the United States.
To read the complete article, see:
Remember When: A Story That Should Be Told, Part One
A few days later, after a four-hour drive, the caravan, loaded with some 10 large cases housing the coins all mounted in their special frames, together with their custom circular racks to display the frames, arrived at the receiving entrance to the almost completed, new U.S. Mint Building in Philadelphia. Louis Jr. left his car to personally witness the review of the papers and documents presented to the armed guards at the entranceway. He then personally supervised the unloading of the cases, escorted them to the special area in the main lobby of the Mint, and saw to it that all had arrived and was receipted properly. Since it was late in the day, the cases were moved to a special secure area, so they could be worked on the following morning.
As I was already at the Mint, awaiting the arrival of the Collection, I was at the Mint early that morning to assist Louis Jr. with unpacking and setting up the exhibit. Each locked and sealed case was opened, the display frames checked, and then each frame was mounted in its appropriate rack. Each rack held about a dozen frames. Louis Jr. checked his inventories carefully and personally inspected each installation. Hours later, the job was complete. As I watched, Louis Jr. inserted special seals into each frame on the racks, and personally sealed them in place. The Louis E. Eliasberg Collection was now ready for viewing when the new U.S. Mint opened its doors. Louis Jr. left the area, in order to report to his father in Baltimore that the job was done.
To read the complete article, see:
Remember When: A Story That Should Be Told, Part Two
Wayne Homren, Editor
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