Ron Guth's latest blog post publishes the first part of the results of his investigation into the current whereabouts of the coins once owned by collector Louis Eliasberg. Great project!
This article was inspired by an eleven part series of blogs I wrote for the Professional Coin Grading Service back in 2015 and 2016 about the Lord St. Oswald Large Cents (http://www.pcgsblog.com/?s=oswald). The object of those posts was to identify each of the Lord St. Oswald coins that had been sold decades earlier, to bring them up-to-date with contemporary grades, and to show comprehensive provenances for each individual coin. The blogs generated a lot of positive feedback and a desire for more of this type of research. The Numismatic Literary Guild bestowed their Best Blog of 2016 to this interesting exercise.
Ever since then, I've toyed with the idea of doing a similar project with the Louis Eliasberg, Sr. coins, he being famous for having completed a set of all U.S. coins minted from 1793 until 1950 (the year he purchased the last coin needed for his set). Obviously, this is a huge project, but it is well underway thanks to Brett Charville, PCGS President, who provided a list of the certification numbers for over 1,000 coins that have been graded by PCGS with the Eliasberg pedigree. To that list, I've added many more coins that have been identified as having originated with the Eliasberg collection thanks to the high-quality digital photographs provided by the major numismatic auction houses, such as Heritage, Stack's/Bowers, the Goldbergs, Great Collections, David Lawrence, and others. Because many Eliasberg coins have had their provenances stripped away over the years, it is always rewarding to "find" another one. Other Eliasberg coins have simply been off the market ever since the 1982, 1996, and 1997 auction sales of his coins.
Thus, it was particularly exciting to run across a number of Eliasberg Barber Half Dollars in the upcoming sale of the Larry Miller collection by Stack's/Bowers on December 17, 2020. Mr. Miller was in attendance at the April 1997 sale of the Eliasberg Barber Half Dollars conducted by Bowers & Merena, where he purchased quite a few of the coins and placed them in his collection. They have remained there ever since, but will soon become available to other collectors. This cache of Barber Half Dollars from the Eliasberg/Miller collection allowed me to fill in enough holes so that the collection of Eliasberg provenances for this series is almost complete.
Eliasberg obtained most of his Barber Half Dollars from the Clapp family collection, started by John M. Clapp in the late 1800's and continued by his son, John H. Apparently, J.M. had an arrangement with the mints to obtain coins from the year of issue, including Proof coins and those made for circulation. Judging by the quality of the coins, it appears that someone selected coins for the Clapps with great care. The Clapps eschewed circulation strikes when Proofs were available. Thus most, if not all, of the Barber Half Dollars in the Clapp and Eliasberg collections from the Philadelphia Mint are Proofs, while all of the branch mint examples are high-grade circulation strikes. As a result, there is no such thing as a complete set of circulation strike Barber Half Dollars in either the Clapp or the Eliasberg collections and it was left to later collectors, such as Dr. Thaine Price, Dr. Duckor, Dale Friend, John Hugon, Dr. Shireman, and others to accomplish that goal.
The following information is the best I can come up with at this time. If you are aware of additional information on any of these coins or any of the missing ones, please contact me at
email@example.com. Thanks in advance for all your help.
See the article online for all the provenance details. Excellent undertaking!
To read the complete article, see:
Looking For Louis Eliasberg's Barber Half Dollars, Part I
Wayne Homren, Editor
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