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Harvey Stack Remembers: Growing up in a Numismatic Family, Part 66

1975 was a great year for the continued growth of Stack’s. In
January 1975, I (Harvey G. Stack) was appointed to be a Governor of the United States Assay
Commission for 1976 – the year of the Bicentennial of our nation. I was
appointed by President Gerald Ford and it was a great honor to be a part of
this, a process that had been established for nearly 200 years. It was felt
that this might be the last Assay Commission to be convened as there was no
longer precious metal in United States coinage.

This was not the only exciting thing that would be happening at Stack’s
in 1976. As noted we were involved with helping the Mint and the Smithsonian
mount special Bicentennial displays. We also learned in 1975 that we had been
chosen to present the Bicentennial year auction for the American Numismatic
Association convention to be held in New York City. As the Big Apple was our
home base, Stack’s was well placed to conduct the auction. However, as always,
there was negotiating to do in order to get the contract, as the ANA wanted
$50,000 as the bid price, part of their plan to expand the ANA Headquarters in
Colorado Springs. I believe this was more than ever requested before. My cousin
Ben, known as a hard negotiator, was able to work out a deal that both sides
could live with and we were awarded the contract.

In 1975 the coin market continued to grow, with new collectors
attracted to the hobby who then became more sophisticated collectors, There
were many advanced collectors building and completing collections. It was a
good time for numismatics.

It was a history making year for Stack’s as we had 10 important sales, with
consignments from collectors, estates,
universities and institutes. The year
started with over 1,200 coins from the Essex Institute in Salem, Massachusetts,
which had been chartered in 1821 to preserve and store valuable documents and
colonial items from Essex County in that state. Because of limited space at the
Institute, all the coins that had been contributed could not be adequately
displayed. The Essex Institute decided to keep representative coinage of the
early days of the country and sell the balance to raise funds for the expansion
of its archives. Highlights of the sale were pieces that formed a comprehensive
collection of United States coins from colonial issues until about 1900, in
addition to a sampling of coinage from overseas that had been brought here from
Europe by the new settlers.

In March 1975 we
presented the quarter and half dollar collections built by James A. Stack.
While Mr. Stack was unrelated to our family, my father, Morton, always called
Jim his “Dutch cousin.” James A. Stack was a textile broker in Wall Street, and
after his wife passed away, he lived in the Roosevelt Hotel, just a few blocks
from Stack’s on 46th Street. The collection had been started by his father,
James Stack, and was continued by James A. Stack, becoming an extensive
collection of United States gold, silver and copper coins. In 1975 James, Jr.
decided to sell one portion of it, an outstanding collection of quarters and
half dollars, many of which carried important pedigrees. The quarters included
1796, 1804, 1827 Original and Restrike, 1842 Small Date Proof, and a virtually
complete run of  Proofs and Mint State quarters
up to 1930. The half dollar collection, 1794 to 1947, was among the finest
known and a comprehensive offering by date and mint. Highlights included 1794, 1796
(both types), 1797, 1807 Proof, the rare 1838-O, 1846, 1849 and all from 1855,
plus the rare Carson City issues and all of the Barber and Walking Liberty series.
There were 685 lots in this two day sale, and it remains an important pedigree
to this day.

To make March
1975 even better, two weeks later we offered the Dr. David A. Spence Collection of U.S. Colonial coins, along with a collection
of U.S. half cents from a unnamed consignor. The Spence Collection,
though just over 100 lots, was one of the finest cabinets of colonial issues
assembled in the mid 20th century and was a wonderful opportunity
for colonial coin collectors. The half cent auction that followed also featured
enthusiastic bidding lot after lot! Many of those coins were pedigreed to our
1954 Anderson Dupont sale, where our unnamed consignor recognized the quality
of the pieces in that auction, and outbid those in attendance.

Two decades
later, when he decided to sell his prize collection, he brought it back to
Stack’s to sell.

April brought
two Stack’s auctions, the first in early April featured a selection of
collections, embracing United States gold, silver and copper, which gave less
specialized collectors a chance to add to their collections. In the last week
of April, we offered United States, European and Latin American gold.

Near the end of
May 1975 we sold at auction consignments from Cornell University and
Oglethorpe University. Like many other institutions, these colleges chose to
deaccession coins they no longer displayed and use the funds to enhance their
libraries or museums. Since these collections seemed to be complimentary we
were able to merge them into a joint catalog featuring a wide variety of coins,
a “something for everyone” sale.

In the later
part of June we sold the Robert J. Kissner Collection of U.S. Large Cents, a specialized collection with many varieties and high quality coins from
1793 to 1814 and a comprehensive collection of early colonial coins, with a focus on the coins of New
Jersey. It was a real collection for the specialized collector. Our “September
Sale” of 1975 included several collections in all U.S. series just right for
general collectors.

In October
Stack’s offered the outstanding U.S. coin collection formed by Dr. E.Y. Clark, a client of the
firm since the mid 1940s who had attended many of our auctions during the 30
plus years he collected. He had a complete set of $3 gold (no 1870-S) mostly
Proof and Mint State, a specialized collection of half dollars, highlighted by
1794, 1795, both 1796s, 1797, many Draped Bust pieces, the rare 1838-O and the
1853 No Arrows from the Cox Collection, plus many minor denomination series,
mostly in Proof or Mint State.

Stack’s
concluded the auction year with the sale of the Dalton Family Collection of U.S. Coins, including small cents through
silver dollars and gold coins of all denominations highlighted by an
outstanding offering of gold coins from the branch mints at Charlotte,
Dahlonega and New Orleans. This auction provided a huge opportunity to mintmark
specialists who were looking to expand their collections of Southern gold.
These 10 auctions, along with all the activity in our retail department, buying and selling, meant that
1975 was a time of great growth. And 1976 promised to be another fantastic
year.

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