In a series of blog posts, Harvey Stack has been writing about his family's role in helping form the Josiah K. Lilly Collection. With Lilly's death in 1966 the goal switched to one of helping the estate dispose of the collection. Here's the latest installment (#32).
It took over 16 years to build the Josiah K. Lilly Collection into a world class collection. After Josiah K. Lilly’s death in 1966, Paul Rawley, Trust Officer at the Merchants National Bank in Indianapolis was given the long and difficult job of getting all of the Lilly collections inventoried and appraised. Mr. Rawley took a personal and direct interest in making sure the collections were distributed as directed.
As noted earlier, Dr. and Mrs. Clain-Stefanelli had examined the Lilly Collection and believed that such an extensive, quality collection should not be broken up. They worked to get the coins from the collection preserved as part of the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution. He approached the chiefs and top executives at the Smithsonian and, at the suggestion of Paul Rawley, he also went to the congressmen and senators from Indiana. They agreed with the recommendations from Dr. and Mrs. Stefanelli and they said they would permit proposal of a Bill before Congress to acquire the Lilly Collection for the National Coin Collection. But, of course, they wanted to see the result of the collection’s appraisal.
The list of individual coins in the J.K. Lilly gold collection was appraised at $4.5 million. This may not seem like much in the 21st century, but the value of gold in 1966 was about $35 per ounce, thus the base value without any numismatic premium was much lower than it would be today. This was especially important for the more common coins. Additionally, at the time the demand for the major rarities was not as great as it is today.
However, the appraisers increased the value of the entire collection to $5.5 million based on its vast size and completeness. Such a collection would be so difficult to duplicate that its value was more than the sum of its parts.
The valuation was approved by the executor and later by the I.R.S. Then the bill for the acquisition of the Lilly Gold Coin Collection was set forth. It was done in an unusual way, so that it would benefit the estate, while giving the Smithsonian this world class collection.
The bill provided first for the removal of the collection from the estate's assets, as if it had been given before J.K. Lilly's death. The bill also provided for a tax credit of the appraised amount. These benefits reflected that the collection was a unique opportunity to enhance the National Numismatic Collection with incredible coins in the United States, Ancient and Foreign series.
To read the complete article, see:
Building a World Class Numismatic Gold Coin Collection The Josiah K. Lilly Collection Part 32
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
DISPOSING OF THE LILLY COLLECTION
Wayne Homren, Editor
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