The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 27, Number 21, May 26, 2024, Article 18


One of my most memorable acquisitions was the Howard Gibbs Archives, now offered as lot 183 in the upcoming Kolbe & Fanning sale. Here's David Fanning's beefy lot description. -Editor


  K-F Sale 170 Lot 183 Howard Gibbs archive

1. Gibbs's heavily annotated copy of the 1954 Sotheby & Co. sale of the King Farouk collection (The Palace Collections of Egypt: Catalogue of the Important and Valuable Collection of Coins and Medals, the Property of the Republic of Egypt). Annotations mostly pertain to Gibbs's own collecting interests and especially to his bids in the sale and interest in items purchased by dealers at the sale. A number of lots have buyers' names recorded, though no effort was given to do this systematically. Price list present. Worn, with taped spine. Also present is the third edition of Gibbs's Odd and Curious Money of the World: A Complete Register, published in 1956 by Hans M.F. Schulman and signed by Gibbs.

2. Correspondence (original and carbon-copy) between Gibbs and Hans M.F. Schulman, most of it dealing with the gradual sale at auction of Gibbs's collection. Dozens of additional letters are also present, arranged in folders by date from 1938 to 1973. Correspondents include J. van der Hoop, Frank Katen, Joseph B. Stack, Paul Mellon, Carl Cramer, Stuart Mosher, Paul Reinhold, Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr., Arthur S. Dewing, Louis C. West, Lou Werner, Ramon Torres Fuentes, Donald Milligen, Albert Baldwin, Kunizo Minagi, Alan Craig, Vernon Brown, Don Sherer, H.A. Fehlmann, Michael Scott, William T. Anton, Sr., William T. Anton, Jr., Jack Ogilvie, Luis F. Ardois, Pablo I. de Jesus, Jack R. Koch, Capt. David C. Amey, Ed Rochette, and many others. Most letters to Gibbs are originals, though occasional material is present in photocopy; most letters from Gibbs are carbon-copies. The correspondence extends past Gibbs's death and includes letters concerning his estate. Also present is a typescript of The Story of the Gibbs Collection of Odd and Curious Money and photocopies of articles about his collection.

3. Exhibit and collection inventories. Several hundred pages of typewritten (carbon-copy) inventories, with folders including: Ancient, China, Mexico, South Sea Islands, Africa, Burma, South America, Collection Catalogue (three folders), Duplicates, and Exhibits (three folders). Nearly all of these inventories pertain to the odd and curious money collection.

4. Radio program scripts of presentations given by Howard Gibbs (nine of them, undated), sale records, advertisements and promotional articles, other published articles concerning Gibbs, and a folder of material on tree money.

Howard Gibbs with safe 5. Original photographs of Howard Gibbs and his wife Helen posing with parts of his collection; of Hans Schulman and his wife, Zita; and over thirty photographs illustrating hundreds of pieces from Gibbs's collection. Most photos are 8 by 10 inch black and white. Also present are various lists of organizations of which Gibbs was a member, addresses of collectors he knew, a letter from Charles Optiz, business cards and related ephemera, and a few personal items including a photocopy of his will.

6. Collection and consignment inventories, including German crowns and talers and coins of the West Indies, and another listing of odd and curious money.

7. Documents relating to Gibbs's estate, including inventories of assets including the remaining collection, consignments, legal and governmental documents, etc., some of them in photocopy. Condition varies, but the bulk of the materials are well-preserved and generally near fine. An important group of material relating to Gibbs and his important collection of odd and curious money, including photographs and inventories of portions of the collection (which was the largest of its type ever formed). It was Gibbs's fervent wish that his collection be kept intact and displayed in such a way as to make it available to the public. As early as 1947, he had written to Paul Mellon to pursue the idea of creating an endowment to fund the purchase of the collection and provide for its maintenance (an idea which went nowhere). Not put off, Gibbs continued to work toward this goal for many years.

In The Story of the Gibbs Collection, he writes: A few people are born to be collectors. I guess I was one of them because I cannot remember a time when I wasn't collecting Indian relics, minerals or what have you. However, at the age of seven all other things became secondary and my hobby has been ‘coins and those things which have been used as money.' He further notes: To dispose of my collection would be very simple. All that is necessary is to place it in the hands of a reputible [sic] dealer and have it sold at auction BUT after spending fifty years in the study and search in building up this unique collection I have been told time after time by many friends that it should be kept intact and displayed in such a way as to make it available to the public and to student [sic] who might be interested. Gibbs's efforts to institutionalize his collection failed and large portions of it were sold shortly after his death in a series of early 1970s Hans Schulman sales. Ex Wayne Homren Library.

As I've written before, I acquired the archive from the home of fellow Western Pennsylvania Numismatic Society member Emerson Smith, working one room ahead of a crew tossing everything left into a dumpster. It was my "if Indiana Jones Were a numismatist" moment, grabbing things in a near panic in a race against the clock. Nothing would please me more than having the archive find a great new home. -Editor

To read the complete lot description, see:
The Howard Gibbs Archives (

To watch my presentation on Gibbs and the archive, see:
CoinTelevision: Howard Gibbs: Prince of Primitive Money (

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Wayne Homren, Editor

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