Stack's Bowers has a backlog of the late Harvey Stack's numismatic memoir articles and will continue publishing them. In this one Harvey discusses hobby changes and auction sales of 1996.
While Harvey Stack passed away in January of this year, we are pleased to continue to offer readers the articles he had already written, so that they can be read and enjoyed as he would have wished.?
1996 turned out to be similar to the few years before, with the numismatic hobby starting to lose many members. Many were confused by the eagle silver and gold precious metal "disks" being made by the Mint. They were commonly called "coins" but were they really coins? The face values ($1 for one ounce silver and $50 for one ounce gold) did not match the intrinsic value of the metal or the price that was charged for them. Not only did this cause some new and established collectors to leave the hobby, but it also diminished the budgets of those who did purchase these items. There was less money available to be spent on the more traditional numismatics that had been our business at Stack's for over 60 years. This loss of collector interest was also seen in a drop in membership in the American Numismatic Association and other coin organizations, as well as lower attendance at conventions and coin shows.
However, at Stack's we maintained our position in the hobby, as we always had, even as the leadership of the firm changed. As my father, uncle, and cousins had passed away over the past three decades, my son Larry and I were the family members who were in charge as we approached the 21st century. Similar to how it had been over the years, we were lucky to be able to surround ourselves with a staff that included some of the finest numismatists available. Some stayed for decades, some left after a time to start their own coin businesses or other pursuits. For all, working at the Stack's "clubhouse" was an opportunity to gain experience in the business and everyone shared their expertise so we could all learn more and provide better service to our clients.
Despite the downturn in the hobby, in 1996 we were able to attract a number of important collections for sale at Public Auction, which resulted in us issuing nine separate catalogs during the year. These sales featured superb United States gold, silver and copper, as well as foreign and ancient specialized collections. Because the sales contained extensive offerings in a variety of series, along with many rare and outstanding items, they attracted buyers from all over the world to participate.
We started our auction year in January with the Lewis M. Reagan Collection of United States Coins, Medals and Paper Money which contained 1,725 lots. Lewis Reagan was a dedicated numismatist who had served in World War II and then entered the education field. He was very active with the American Numismatic Association where he helped expand the annual ANA Convention to attract more dealers and visitors from around the world. He also worked to improve The Numismatist, encouraging advertising and the writing of informative articles.
He traveled around to coin clubs and other places to encourage membership and was responsible for quite a bit of growth of the organization. He served as the ANA general secretary from 1947 until his death in 1961. Stack's was proud to have been chosen by his family to catalog and sell his collection at auction
March brought our sale of the W.R. Walling Collection of United States Coins, highlighted by an extensive offering of type coins in high grades. Many scarce and rare dates were included in the 1,053 lots in the sale. In April we offered the celebrated collection formed by Jack Collins, featuring his famous reference collection of Washington Medals and Tokens and U.S. Paper Currency. The catalog included over 1,600 lots and is still considered a valuable reference on Washingtoniana.
Our June auction consisted of a specialized sale of nearly 2,250 lots of ancient, foreign, and United states coins, including popular and scarce rarities in all fields. It was a very popular sale, one that offered "something for everyone," a feature that always attracted a huge attendance. September brought an extensive offering of United States gold, silver, and copper coins, as well as the 600-lot collection U.S. paper money formed by renowned collector and specialist Jon DeVries, a cabinet noted for its quality and completeness.
A comprehensive blending of several specialized collections of U.S. coins made up our October 1996 auction. The more than 1,700 lots featured, rare dates and important early type coins, many in outstanding condition. Among the highlights was a very rare 1933 gold eagle, an issue seldom offered for sale.
In December the New York International Convention returned to New York City and as the auctioneer we issued three separate catalogs. As always, there was a great attendance of collectors and dealers from around the world at the convention and at the auctions. Leading our offerings was the important collection of Greek and Roman coins formed by Michael F. Price with the personal supervision of my son, Larry. This catalog consisted of 257 gold coins which included the City States of Ancient Greece, the early coins of the Roman Republic, and an extensive collection of the Emperors of the Roman Empire. Many of the choicest and rarest coins of the period were represented and it attracted many specialists in this field to the sale.
Then followed the world-famous Alfred R. Globus Collection of Foreign Gold, Silver and Copper coins that started from the late ancient period and ran through the 20th century, 1,954 lots in all. The cabinet took Dr. Globus several decades to assemble and won many awards when it was displayed at various shows. Not only were we at Stack's happy to help Dr. Globus build his collection, he also taught us much that he had learned in the course of acquiring the pieces. Lastly, our third December 1996 catalog offered rare and scarce gold coins of the United States, an offering of just 720 lots, but with enough choice and scarce coins to attract many bidders to the sale.
Even though the number of collectors seemed to be declining, we continued to provide our services both at the shop and on the road as we had during other challenging times in our firm's history. We were always ready for interest to revive and worked to make sure that our clients had the best possible experience.
To read the complete article, see:
Growing up in a Numismatic Family: Part 122
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
HARVEY STACK'S NUMISMATIC FAMILY, PART 121
Wayne Homren, Editor
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