Stack's Bowers has a backlog of the late Harvey Stack's numismatic memoir articles and will continue publishing them. In this one Harvey completes his discussion of the auction sales of 1994, beginning with the
James A. Stack collection.
In October 1994, Stack's was pleased to offer a major part of the famous collection formed by James A. Stack, Sr. (no relation to our family). As explained when telling of earlier offerings by Stack's in 1975, 1989 and 1990, Stack's was privileged to offer for sale portions of this important collection. After his father's death, James Stack, Jr. took over the collection and decided that it should be offered in sections because the total value at the time would exceed any other collection he researched, and this might limit in the "spending power" of collectors and dealers.
Therefore in 1975 Stack's was consigned the quarter and half dollar collections, virtually complete, with all dates and mints in exceptional choice conditions. Many of the coins came from collections that Stack's sold at auction and had pedigrees going back for decades. In 1989 Stack's was consigned the half dimes and half cents, together with other minor sets, mostly in Mint State and Proof and including popular die varieties. Both these sales attracted specialists from all over the United States looking to add high quality items to their collections. In 1990, James Stack, Jr. consigned to us the virtually complete collection of U.S. dimes (lacking the unique 1873-CC) featuring die varieties and of impressive quality. Even specialist collectors like Alan Lovejoy, whose cabinet we sold, did not have the overall quality of dimes as were found in the Stack Collection.
James A. Stack, Sr.'s family were traders in the commodity markets of New York, and he became a noted operator. His wife had died in the 1930s and he moved into the Roosevelt Hotel, next to Grand Central Station. This was within three blocks of Stack's on 46th Street. He became interested in coins, and after a few visits to our shop became an avid student and collector of coins. He loved finding varieties and high quality pieces and endeavored to complete different series as he became enamored with them. He introduced his son James, Jr. to collecting and they had wonderful times together studying and collecting.
My father, Morton, became a very close friend of James, Sr. People who knew both were always surprised that there was no direct kinship between the two. They shared a similar emigration story, and both men were 5 feet 8 inches tall, both were stocky, both had round faces, and both wore dark blue suits with vests. They looked like relatives. It was almost like a family reunion each time they got together, and their friendship brought great pleasure to both.
James, Sr. learned that Stack's had been involved with the Eliasberg Collection, in the 1940s – a collection that eventually became the only complete U.S. coin collection ever built. Mr. Stack was very interested in this achievement and set high goals for his collection, helped by the fact that at the time he was buying, a number of very important cabinets were coming to market. He thought he would attempt to put together as complete a set of United States gold coins as was possible, and early on he learned from my father and uncle that Stack's had recently bought the extensive collection (hoard) of E.H.R. Green from the Chase Bank. This accumulation was rich in early gold and would become a great source for James Stack, as well as for others collecting at the same time.
Our October 1994 offering opened with half cents and continued in the United States copper, nickel and silver series through silver dollars. These series were mostly complete and in Proof or Mint State. These may have been the coins that James A. Stack, Jr. originally collected with the help of his father, that were kept with the entire Stack Collection.
Moving into gold coins, the gold dollars were complete. The quarter eagles started with both varieties of the 1796, were complete through 1808 and virtually complete from 1821 to 1929, with most varieties and with the rare Dahlonega and Charlotte coins. The quality was very high, with the highlight being the 1841 "Little Princess" quarter eagle. The three-dollar gold coins were not complete and in mostly AU grade, but there were some rarities and provided bidders with a great source for high quality examples in this series.
Then followed a nearly complete collection of superb United States half eagles, many of which had been acquired from Stack's, B. Max Mehl and other dealers. Highlights included a prooflike 1795 Small Eagle along with its Large Eagle companion. The run continued with 1796, three varieties of 1797, a Mint State 1798 Large Eagle, issues from 1799 through 1818 (not including the 1815), the extremely rare 1819, and two varieties of 1820. Later issues began with two early types of 1834 and then were virtually complete in both date and various mints through 1929, with many of the Philadelphia Mint coins in brilliant Proof and the branch mint pieces in Mint State. It was one of the choicest collections of half eagles that had been offered at auction for decades and attracted specialists to the sale and established record prices. Then followed small collections of U.S. eagles and double eagles, as well as a denomination and type set of Bechtler coinage. It was a great sale, a pedigree that is still noted on coins to this day.
As the year was drawing to a close, we offered several estate collections of United States coins in a sale that crossed the block on the last day of November and the first day of December. Included were selections from the estates of R.E. Solomon (sold for the benefit of the American Numismatic Society), of Lester Merkin (a well known coin dealer who operated in New York City, a few blocks from Stack's West 57th Street offices), of John W. Hancock, Jr., who specialized in U.S. type coins in all metals and of Rabideau T. Wilder, a specialist in coins of the Charlotte Mint and other southern issues. This combined sale of 1,738 lots preceded a convention held in New York the following week and was a great source for a variety of collectors.
On December 7-8, 1994, Stack's conduct the auction for the New York International Fall Convention. The bourse had dealers from the United States and overseas and became a great annual event. Our sale contained 1,412 lots of gold and silver coins, starting with 271 Greek and Roman, followed by a collection of seldom-offered Anglo-Saxon coinage, and then by a collection featuring five centuries of British coinage. The sale continued the next day with a specialize collection of the coins of France (nearly 300 lots), followed by an extensive offering of world gold and silver coins. The attendance that this convention sale attracted was large and very active.
In addition to our public auctions, in 1994, Stack's presented three large mail bid sales through our Coin Galleries division. It was a very productive year for Stack's as we continued to offer numismatic material in all series at auction, as well as serving clients who chose to buy and sell through our New York shop.
To read the complete article, see:
Growing up in a Numismatic Family: Part 118
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
HARVEY STACK'S NUMISMATIC FAMILY, PART 117
Wayne Homren, Editor
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