Len Augsburger forwarded this cautionary story about safe deposit boxes from the New York Times. Here's an excerpt - see the complete article
online. Thanks. -Editor
In the early 1980s, when Philip Poniz moved to New Jersey from Colorado, he needed a well-protected place to stash his collection of rare watches. He had
been gathering unusual pieces since he was a teenager in 1960s Poland, fascinated by their intricate mechanics. His hobby became his profession, and by the
time of his relocation, Mr. Poniz was an internationally known expert in the history and restoration of high-end timepieces.
At first, he kept his personal collection in his house, but as it grew, he wanted something more secure. The vault at his neighborhood bank seemed ideal. In
1983, he signed a one-page lease agreement with First National State Bank of Edison in Highland Park, N.J., for a safe deposit box.
Over the next few decades, the bank — a squat brick building on a low-rise suburban street — changed hands many times. First National became First Union,
which was sold to Wachovia, which was then bought by Wells Fargo. But its vault remained the same. A foot-thick steel door sheltered cabinets filled with
hundreds of stacked metal boxes, each protected by two keys. The bank kept one; the customer held the other. Both were required to open a box.
In 1998, Mr. Poniz rented several additional boxes, and stored in them various items related to his work. He separated a batch of personal effects —
photographs, coins he had inherited from his grandfather, dozens of watches — into a box labeled 105. Every time he opened it, he saw the glinting accumulation
of his life’s work.
Then, on April 7, 2014, he lifted the thin metal lid. Box 105 was empty.
With banks on a branch-closing binge, there are fewer and fewer safe deposit boxes available for storing numismatic collections. What are the alternatives?
Will storage companies get into the market with some form of controlled-access storage for valuables? At least long-term storage is their core business. There
are secure warehouses for artworks, so why not for numismatics? -Editor
To read the complete article, see:
Safe Deposit Boxes Aren't Safe
Wayne Homren, Editor
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