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Forty Years Later, the Garrett Collection Pedigree Continues to Attract Interest

Did
You Know that 40 years ago, in March 1981, our firm completed its
record-setting series of four auctions featuring the Garrett Collection, sold
for the Johns Hopkins University? The sale of this collection realized a total
of $25 million, a record at the time for the most valuable collection ever
sold. In addition, in the November 1979 Part I auction, a 1787 Brasher doubloon
with EB on wing sold for a record-breaking $725,000, a record that would stand
for nearly a decade.

The
Garrett Collection was begun by T. Harrison Garrett in 1860 while he was a
student at Princeton. He was also an avid collector in other fields, including
manuscripts and autographs. He owned several folios of Shakespeare and had a
collection of signers of the Declaration of Independence. After his untimely
death in a boating accident in 1888, the coin collection passed to his son,
Robert. Robert Garrett was an athlete who received the very first American gold
Olympic medal, when he won the discus throw at the 1896 Athens Olympics. He
also took first place in the shot put, as well as second place in the broad
jump and high jump. While Robert added some pieces to the collection, he traded
it to his brother, John Work Garrett,  who
seemed to have inherited the collecting gene from his father. The collection
continued to grow through John’s death in 1942, at which time it went to Johns
Hopkins University, along with the Garrett mansion, Evergreen House, and many
other important collections. After Alice Garrett’s (John’s wife) death in 1952,
the coins were put on display at Evergreen House. However, security costs
became too much, and the University moved them to a bank vault. In the late
1970s, Johns Hopkins determined that the coin collection, which was in a vault
and not on display or particularly available for scholarship, should be sold
and the proceeds directed to other areas of the university. As noted, the sales
were a phenomenal success, and the Garrett Collection pedigree is still
coveted, adding not only history and interest, but often value as well.

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