Several weeks ago I began discussing Dr. Conway A. Bolt and his comprehensive collection that Stack’s sold at public auction in 1966. Though the good doctor loved all American numismatics, he had a fondness for pioneer and territorial gold coins, paper money and pattern coins of the United States.
In last week’s story I discussed Dr. Bolt’s interest in early Bechtler coinage, which was struck from gold found in the Carolinas and Georgia. He was also interested in Templeton Reid who struck coins in 1830 from Georgia gold. It was a very limited issue but the Bolt collection had a specimen of the $2.50 coinage. Like many others who were interested in this series, Dr. Bolt expanded to the western assayers and found the stories of those issues just as exciting.
From California and other western territories he had coins struck by Norris, Gregg and Norris, Moffat and Co., Augustus Hubert (as a private coiner and then as the U.S, Assayer who struck the earliest $50 gold in California in 1851), Wass, Molitor (including an 1855 round $50 "slug"), Kellogg & Co., Oregon Exchange Co., Mormon issues, and Clark Gruber.
Expanding his numismatic interests, Dr. Bolt amassed an important collection of United States paper currency. His collection had a Demand Note, an extensive assemblage of Legal Tender Notes from $1 to $50 issued from 1862 to 1917, Silver Certificates $1 to $50 from l886 to 1923, Treasury or Coin Notes, National Bank Notes from various states including some uncut sheets, Federal Reserve Bank Notes, Federal Reserve Notes, a pair of National Gold Bank Notes, and a $100 1882 Gold Certificate. In addition, he collected Error and Misprint Small Size notes and several uncut sheets of early colonial currency. In addition, he had an impressive collection of Fractional Currency
To round off Dr. Bolt’s interest in United States coinage, he assembled an outstanding collection of U.S. pattern and trial pieces — over 120 different examples in all metals. He had trial pieces of early eagles, some rare and unlisted examples, (which were published after his collection was sold) and experimental examples from small cents to double eagles. He had an a unusual group of transitional pattern gold coins struck in copper, examples of the Standard Silver issues, and an unusual collection of trial pieces for 1871 gold coins in various metals. Also among his collection was a rare group of Barber design gold coins, the extremely rare Bickford International $10 piece struck in copper, 1875 and 1884 trial pieces for gold coins struck in copper and aluminum, the extremely rare 1885 $20 gold piece struck in aluminum, a unique copper 1795 eagle, and the rare Bouvet design pattern eagle dated 1849.
You can see how Dr. Bolt’s collection provided him with examples to display and lecture on as he traveled about the country, always trying to add more items to illustrate how these monetary items contributed to the economic wealth of America. The Dr. Conway A. Bolt Collection was so comprehensive, that after the sale collectors sought copies of the catalog to imitate the style of the collection.
It is interesting to examine the collection as a whole, and realize that he wasn’t always trying to get the finest known, or the very best examples. Dr. Bolt’s focus was to assemble the numismatic items that "talked to him" and helped him to teach others about the great importance of a numismatic collection and the knowledge it could offer. So many collectors I have met during my over 65 years of being a professional have taught me that the coins themselves and the history they reflected, provided the greatest satisfaction, no matter what the condition. While smart collectors take care to assemble the best quality that they can find or afford, all items can be appreciated for the stories they tell.