The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 23, Number 8, February 23, 2020, Article 19


It's the end of an era - Stack's Bowers is moving from the decades-long home of Stack's at 123 West 57th Street. Here's the press release. -Editor

Stack's Bowers NYC location

Stack's Bowers Galleries is moving to a new, larger location at 470 Park Avenue in the spring of 2020. In the meantime, we will be at our temporary location:

Americas Tower
1177 Avenue of the Americas
5th Floor
New York, New York 10036

Please contact us to schedule an appointment:
Toll Free: 800.566.2580

The building at 123 West 57 th Street that was the historic location of Stack's Bowers has been sold to real estate developers with future plans for the space. For 67 years, this location housed the operations of the Stack family and organization and has been a numismatic landmark in New York City. Collectors from all over the world would congregate at the office to visit and talk coins, whether they were buying, selling or participating in auctions.

Harvey Stack recalls in early 1953 when his father, Morton, and his Uncle Joseph moved the firm to its current location. "I was in charge of seeing that all the packing was secure, placed on lift-back trucks and rode shot-gun to the new store. We transported show cases, safes, file cabinets, coin cases, rare coins, bags and rolls of our extensive inventory, our library and the numismatic documents that framed our walls. Our new location was surrounded by two classic hotels, the famous Steinway Hall, the world famous Carnegie Hall, the Russian Tea Room, and more."

The next chapter in the Stack's Bowers New York story is about to begin with a beautifully remodeled space in the heart of Manhattan, just a few blocks away at 57 th and Park Avenue. Construction is currently underway, and a spring opening is planned. Announcements will be forthcoming as progress continues.

For more information contact Mark Schimel at or at 800-566-2580.

Harvey Stack kindly provided these draft recollections of Stack firm's homes over the years including the fabled W. 57th Street storefront. Thanks! -Editor

As many, many collectors have come to call Stack's and now Stack's Bowers a NUMISMATIC LANDMARK on West 57th Street in New York City, The Stack's Bowers shop and showroom has to move East to Park Avenue and 58th Street, still in the luxury and classic area of Manhattan.

Going back in time, Stack's opened its full retail Coin Shop in New York, after moving up for the Bowery Area in 1933. (The Bowery Area was and still is a Jewelry center, a hock shop area, and other related businesses.)

IN 1933 Stack's decided to move north in Manhattan to 690 Sixth Avenue, near 23rd Street and Sixth Avenue. It was then in the center of Mid - Mahattan transportation at the time, with the 6th Avenue Elevated train at the corner close to the Subway at 7th and Broadway, a block from Fifth Avenue,and close to a maze of fine shopping on Fifth Avenue. It was in a hub of shops that had moved North in Manhattan, as fine residences moved in the same direction.

Only a few Numismatic shops were in Manhattan, but a number of old, classical Numismatic Dealers had office space nearby.

The new shop on 6th Avenue attracted many collectors, a place to buy and sell coins, get advice about collecting. It was here that the Stack Family nurtured the Coin Business in New York. Many collectors visited Stack's shop and met many collectors and dealers ,who had a "home away from home" to sit at counters and discuss Numismatics.

Many a fine and classic collection were started and developed on Sixth Avenue, which include Louis E. Eliasberg, Col. E. H.R. Green, F.C.C. Boyd, Harold Bareford, and most members of the various Numismatic Clubs that surrounded Manhattan, namely the New York Numismatic Club, Bronx Coin Club, Brooklyn Coin Club, Long Island Coin Club, Westchester Coin Club. to mention but a few that developed or were in existence already after the great depression in the early 1930's.

By 1935 Stack's decided to start having PUBLIC COIN AUCTION SALES a source of providing a new market for coins to this growing audience. We were able to offer 4 different auction sales, of specialized collections and general numismatic items of the United States, in 1935 as well as specialized collections of Foreign and Ancient Coins and currency. Our sales became a monthly attraction for the collectors, who traveled to attend from as far away as Baltimore, Philidelphia and Boston, and nearby Connecticut. It was a great place to find fellow collector, many who became close friends.

We followed in 1936 with 10 Public Auctions, and maintained that number on average for many many years. We were so well entrenched in the coin auction business, that we were invited and conducted the first public auction sale in conjunction the 1939 World's Fair held in New York, in that summer , as the American Numismatic Association also held its Annual Convention in New York.

For the last 85 years Stack's and its associated firm, led by Dave Bowers since 2006,has provided almost every year a sensational offering of Coins at Public Auction in all series,U.S. Foreign and Ancients, in all metals , and paper currency. As of this year , we have conducted over 800 sales, many which contained classic and rarities not offered by others, world wide.

In 1937 we decided, as many of the finer shops kept moving uptown in New York, we moved our location to 32 West 46th Street, just West of Fifth Avenue. It was a larger location from our 690 Sixth Avenue location had show room that could not only be available to serve our many collectors and friends, but even we also used it as our auction room monthly. Everyone found us easily, and we had all we needed to make them comfortable. We offered sit-down show cases to make the visitor as comfortable as we could. Any of our major sales were also held at various hotels nearby when we expected a larger audience.

Norman Stack, my uncle Joseph B. Stack 's, younger son, (who was 3 weeks younger than me) and Benjamin Stack, J. B's older son,( one year older than me) along with myself,(whose father was Morton Stack, ) were called to duty on any of the weekends to sort, file, clean up the store , help where we could manage our active trade, and all three of us got to know most of the famous collectors at the time, and from learned about the fine art of being a numismatic dealer. It was a great learning opportunity. The two seniors, Joseph and Morton engaged some of the younger collectors as well to help us with our chores. Many were with us till World War II began, among the famous ones were Cornelius Vermuele, and John J Ford, Jr., each who spent time with us. They too provided great insights and learning to all of us.

With the war enlisting many young men into service, in 1942 John ended up in the Army in the transportation division,and Corny ( to his friends) who had a knack with oriental language, mostly Japanese, was in the Finance Division,and with Norman Jacobs did the inventorying and records of the vast holdings by the Bank of Japan. From their studies wrote one of the first books about Japanese coins in English, which Stack's published for them, and was the beginning for many of our soldiers who served and returned from Japan after the war, to learn about the Asian coins they acquired and start to collect.

Our offices on 46th Street moved again, in 1945 after we bought a two story building at 12 West 46th Street, which provided a large retail shop, and a second floor location for our cataloguers and general office staff, as well as a large auction room for our virtually monthly sales.

We remained at this great location, again near 5th Avenue, one block south of the Jewelry Center on 47th Street, and with next door neighbors such as Botney Woolens, and Burleigh Brooks. Again our offices was a "Club House" for collectors and dealers. A number of smaller dealers occupied office space and shops near our location, such as Lester Merkin, New Netherlands (who took over the space that Scott Stamp and Coin Company had on 47th Street ) and Hans Schulman., to mention a few. However ,Stack's was the first attraction that most collectors visited first. Though we were competitors we were able to work closely with all of the dealers, and retained friendships for many decades.

In l951 we met a new collector of Gold Coins. He was Josiah K.Lilly. chairman of Eli Lilly & Co, who decided to show some interest in Spanish Colonial Gold Coins, a series he studied and read about in the literature he collected, He built in his lifetime one of the most complete collection of books and manuscripts of Early English and America ever assembled, (now part of the Lilly Library at Indiana University). He was amazed that we were able to show him a sizeable offering of Cobs and portrait examples from the various countries, of actual Spanish colonies that existed in the Western Hemisphere. This first encounter lead to our building over the next 16 years the most famous WORLD CLASS GOLD COIN COLLECTION, numbering over 6500 different gold coins of the World, including a virually complete collection of UNITED STATES GOLD COINS. FROM 1795 TO 1933, PLUS one of the most extensive collections of Pioneer and Territorial Gold collections ever assembled. It was a chore we all enjoyed, and when we needed assistance from our fellow dealers to build and complete his collection, we engaged many like Hans M.F.Schulman and others to help us complete our assignment. Stack's through each of the generations worked with and built and later sold many of the famous and noteworthy collections formed. Our family dedication was to keep Numismatics growing !!! The Josiah K. Lilly Gold Coins of the World, was acquired from his Estate after he died in 1967,for our National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian, by an Act of Congress, for some Five and a Half Million Dollars, a sum, far in excess of the original cost, and a major acquisition of coins at that time .The addition to our National Collection made by this purchase of the Lilly Collection,made our National Collection the major World Class Numismatic Collection in existence. All the gold coins in the Lilly Collection were acquired and supplied solely by the STACK FAMILY. A proud accomplishment for our company. !


By 1953 ,we realized that West 46th had changed in character. Some of the fine luxury shops that surrounded us were taken over by discount houses, selling all types of appliances and T V sets, and the crowds that visited our once calm, dignified street did not attract the people who who were collectors . So we searched for a new location, and since the entire art and special shops moved North a few blocks we found a very unusual shop 123 West 57th Street between Sixth (also called the "Avenue of the Americas") Avenue and Seventh Avenue .

At 123 we found an attractive shop, 100 feet deep as part of the Hotel Salisbury, a semi-residential hotel, owned and operated by the Calvary Baptist Church which was part of the massive piece of real estate they had located their church on in the early 1900's. The location was virtually attached to Steinway Hall, the most famous and largest piano builder in America, which had a huge show room on the first floor for its pianos, and a wonderful gallery on the second floor for small concerts. On the corner of 6th Avenue was the Buckingham Hotel, across the street was a huge apartment house, and going westward one of the last Horn and Hardart Cafeteria's; with its unique glass compartments, (opened by inserting coins.) as well as a diversified hot table one could buy an evening plater; next to the Great Northern Hotel, and then the Russian Tea Room, and then anchored on the corner by the famous CARNEGIE HALL. On our side were a number of fine art galleries and a few restaurants. All together a wonderful place to travel to by Subway.(6th and 7th Avenue Lines} which went North and South on each side of our street into upper and lower Manhattan, a six lane street passing us East and West for bus lines, taxis and private cars. It was a dream location, as 57th Street was also a great "walking Street" just 2 blocks South of luxurious Central Park South, where our Central Park began. The area was a great tourist attraction. What a great site for our New Home. !!!

However , though we were also promised occupancy of the second floor above our shop it would not be available for a couple of years. We found an additional location down the street on the second floor of 37 West 57th, and we moved our foreign and ancient department there, with Dr. and Mrs. Stefanelli as managers, as well as our complete foreign library, and our entire bookkeeping department. We also had an exhibit area for our auction sales. So it was a short distance away , it worked out fine for we knew it would be a temporary arrangement till we could move the Coin Galleries to 123 in a few years.(Since each location had a speciality we used 123 West for buying and selling United States Gold, Silver and copper coins, and COIN GALLERIES for our Foreign and Ancient Clients, and our international coin library.)

IN SPITE OF THE DIFFICULTIES IN MOVING AND RELOCATING AND SETTING UP, THE STACK FAMILY ALONG WITH ITS GREAT STAFF' PRODUCED 7 AUCTION SALES IN 1953, (4 of which were name sales, 2 for the average collector and a Convention Auction Catalog for their meeting in Worchester, Mass in October 1953, which I became the auctioneer of record ! )

We sold our building at 12 W 46th Street for a tidy sum and moved to what became our present location at 123 West 57th . As Norman was already drafted into military service in 1953, and Ben , after a dispute with his father, J.B.,left to try open a coin shop in Las Vegas. we were short Stack Staff. it left only Morton, J.B. and myself to manage the move. J.B. stayed at 57th Street, Morton dispatched the furniture and large coin cabinets from 46th Street, and I "rode shot-gun" on the liftback truck that did the daily moving. It wasn't easy, as they kept 46th Street opened during the move, with our staff managing those who came to buy and sell to us. In spite that the move was accomplished in less than a week. It was a long and tedious job for all. However, we were set up at our two locations and business went forward. Our PHONE NUMBER remained the same, as it was on 6th Avenue and still is the same today, ( 212-582-2580)

Our staff at the time included the Stefanelli's, Jim Risk, John Burnham, George Weyr, and a group of advanced collectors who liked to work when not at their jobs as cataloguers and researches for the fun of learning more, The Stack's operation was a school for many. We even had the numismatic prodigy Walter Breen for a while on our staff.

Shortly after we moved to 57th Street the prolific numismatic writer and cataloguer , David Alexander, joined us, and was with us for over 3 decades. !!! Our staff was the envy of all the numismatic auction houses in America.

By 1955, the Hotel Salisbury kept its promise, gave us the second floor above our retail shop, and we moved the 37 West operation to our building. There we had a small show room with sit down counters, numismatic staff offices for cataloging , our foreign and ancient library together with our bookkeeping staff. Collectors visited us often to use our library.

Stack's settled in our new home, and in 1955 , when Norman rejoined us after his military requrements, we shared a private office in the rear of our shop, which had a huge "partner's desk" in the center,k and also housed our extensive United States Library and many of the most famous auction catalogs ever issued. Another section of our shop that collectors and dealers loved visiting. We set up ;"home base" there and it remained unaltered for many decades. \\

Once we had re-established our location, the shop and offices remained the very same for close to 3 decades. We served on a daily basis our clients, in buying and selling, and preparing an average of TEN (10) Public Auction Catalogs each year, plus a goodly number of Mail Bid sales.

Famous and noteworthy people walked by our shop, gazed in our massive show window, sometimes came in to sell or buy a coin or two, and it became the "place to go" if one had some coins they wanted to know about. "Believe it or not", we were so well known that even when out of towners came to New York and were looking for STACK'S the taxi drivers would say,"You are looking for that fine shop on West 57th Street, " and drove his passenger to our front door, (where the hotel door man opened and greeted them when they arrived". J.B. and Morton surely picked a location that best suited us. !!

During the 1950's.60's and 70's , the five Stack's and their wonderful staff kept growing, building , buying , selling at Auction, many of the foremost collections ever assembled, and maintained themselves as a Numismatic Leader. Among some of the great accomplishments the Family was credited for, included helping the ANA to grow, Expand the American Numismatic Society, win the restriction on importing gold coins into America, assisting the ANA in developing the use of the Sheldon numerical grading system which became the new way to express the Grade of a Coin, and stop the Federal Trade Commission who wanted to "regulate" the coin business as so many counterfeits and false promotions was discouraging people who were losing money by participating with "promoters" and small unknown dealers. Stack's, with myself as one of the debaters with the FTC showed a way that did not need regulation. The family to this day is active in "Making the Hobby GROW". !!!

We operated our place on 57th Street until we were informed that the Hotel Salsbury, (operating arm of the Calvary Baptist Church) needed our second floor for more religious class rooms and office space. THEY DID NOT NEED THE SHOP'S SPACE, (STACK'S could live there forever unless the Church decided to sell the entire piece of property.)

So to further protect our location on 57th Street, we located a second floor office, in the Hollywood Movie Producer's building, across the street from 123 West, and we rented it. lt provided a large showroom. with sitdown counters, cataloging space for some 10 catalogers, a exhibit area large enough to show lots and hold small auctions, and also our bookkeeping department, along with our foreign and' ancient coin library. It was the perfect answer to our needs.

From about 1990 and up to the day we are about to move, this arrangement worked in New York, and Larry Stack, my son, and I felt comfortable in our location. We had plenty of space to work in and continue our production of an average of 10 Public Auction each year, issue price lists, and maintain our place in building, buying and selling , auctioning collections which kept STACK'S as the leading coin auction house in America.

In and about 2006 things changed a bit . Our landlord at the Movie Producer Building needed our 2nd floor space. Though they gave us adequate time to move, nothing of interest was available nearby. We did the following: merged with the Dave Bowers company in New Hampshire, which created STACK'S BOWERS, who had a great staff of cataloguers, opened an office in Los Angeles, who also had some great cataloguers to serve our clients, and we condensed our shop to accommodate the merge of the new entity and continue our operation at the store still at 123 West 57th Street which was so well-known to so many. The shop was considered by most of having LANDMARK STATUS in our ever changing city. After all, we were in the very same location, from 1953 to 2020, a Total of some 67 YEARS, nearly 3 quarters of a century, surely making it a NEW YORK CITY NUMISMATIC LANDMARK !!!!!

The name was expanded to STACK'S BOWERS and is a very successful operation, and a source of prize-winning collections and auction catalogs, and writings by its notable staff of numismatic cataloguers and writers.

In the early 1910's the Calvary Baptist Church had to make some important' decisions. The Hotel Salisbury was losing business, as it had no restaurant to serve its visitors, the Church's congregation was growing, the chapel needed refurbishing. the hotel need revitalization and the Church had too little funds to do what was wanted by the congregation. Yet the owned this massive piece of real estate on 57th Street, and a large apartment house at its rear on 58th Street, which they considered selling. Since their selling requirements was to enlarge or rebuild the church where it stands, also rebuild the Hotel Salisbury , and the apartment structure at its rear, it was not easy to find a developer to do what they required. So they marketed the property but no one came forth. Then in the mid year 2015 a major office and residence was torn down at the corner of 57th Street and 7th Avenue , and was replaced by a 100 story building, for office space and residence, and the interest in the Church property became an object of consideration. The Church pastor recognized that STACK's was their long time, valued tenant for over a half a century and wanted to be sure to treat us fairly and correct. So from the 2015 period to this year we remained as they termed us "month to month tenants", they would not just push us out.

But of course, to meet some of our requirements, we needed time and they gave it to us. We searched and finally found a location on Park Avenue between 57th and 58th Street which would meet our requirements. But as the new builder also wanted to get started, they gave us till February 2020 to leave our "home" as they knew a "New York Numismatic Landmark" which STACK'S created over the 6 decades they occupied the premises.

In addition to our New York offices, we have ones in Wolfboro, NH, Los Angeles Calif., Paris and Hong Kong, to serve our various clients.

Our new shop will be opened temporarily on 6th Avenue, between 57th and 58th Street, and will move to its new "landmark" location on Park Avenue, also between 57th Street and 58th Street, as soon as the alterations are complete. We invite all to visit with us while we are moving. !!!

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Wayne Homren, Editor

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