The CDN Blog published a nice article by Dave Bowers on the sale of the landmark Garrett collection from Johns Hopkins University and the
publication of his classic book, The History of United States Coinage as Illustrated by the Garrett Collection. Here's a short excerpt,
but be sure to read the complete article. -Editor
Representing Bowers and Ruddy Galleries were myself and company president Bill Hawfield. Representing Christie’s was John J. Ford, Jr., who
had been hired as a consultant, as Christie’s had no coin department in America (their facility was in London). For Stack’s, Norman Stack came along
with John Burnham, a numismatist who worked with Stack’s and also was curator of the Yale University Collection, thought to have been a worthwhile
connection concerning the academic context of the entire thing. The Sotheby’s contingent consisted of Donald Crowther, David Tripp, Peregrine Pollen
(vice chairman of Sotheby’s worldwide), and Philip Wilson (publisher).
In time, Dr. Zdanis came and said to Bill Hawfield and me, “you have been selected. Please come to Garland Hall and meet with the board.” We went
back, met the group, and Dr. Steven Muller, president of the university, was the spokesman. A nice discussion ensued. He said something to the
effect, “I suppose you wonder why you were picked?” I replied in the affirmative. He said, “because I think Bowers and Ruddy Galleries can give some
P.T. Barnum to the sale, and we need the money.”
I examined coins, made notes, and also at the Ferdinand Hamburger University Archives on the university campus and at the nearby Evergreen House,
where I reviewed many thousands of invoices, letters, and other items pertaining to T. Harrison, Robert, and John Work Garrett, eventually making
over 4,000 Xerox copies! These went into the creation of a book, The History of United States Coinage as Illustrated by the Garrett
Collection. This volume, 592 pages, took quite a bit of time to prepare, but was finally done in the late summer. In the meantime, the first
section of coins was catalogued by me and our talented staff. Dr. Zdanis suggested that The Johns Hopkins University Press publish the book, and I
met with them, giving them details.
Their reply was that coins were such an obscure pursuit, that it would probably take ten years to sell as many as 1,000 copies. They might print
it if forced to, but it did not sound very interesting. No problem. We decided to print it ourselves. The first order was for 4,000 copies.
Announcements were made in the trade press, excitement arose, and the entire run was sold out within a few weeks! We had to have a second printing.
In time about 15,000 were sold!
To read the complete article, see:
A Lighter Shade of Grey: Dave Bowers and the
Garrett Collection (http://blog.greysheet.com/a-lighter-shade-of-grey-dave-bowers-and-the-garrett-collection/)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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