Our presentation of the John J. Ford, Jr. Collection at auction during the past decade has been unequalled in the annals of American numismatics. No presentation like this will ever occur again—as no similar collection has ever been formed. It would be impossible to duplicate the holding today, as many pieces are unique, many others are great rarities, and John’s acquisition of these not only dated back to the 1940s, but sections of the Wayte Raymond and F.C.C. Boyd cabinets incorporated into the Ford Collection date back even further.
The present sale is the final chapter in the Ford Collection annals.
I and the entire team give special thanks to Harvey Stack and Larry Stack for their efforts in bringing this fabulous cabinet to excited collectors worldwide. Of course, their involvement with the collection started long ago and made ground breaking news when Part I crossed the block a decade ago in October 2003, setting numerous market records that still remain today. It has been a pleasure more recently in working with Harvey and Larry bringing numerous sections of the John J. Ford, Jr. Collection to market, certainly a memorable experience for me and all others involved, most recently with our two catalogs—one of paper money and the other of tokens and medals—showcased at the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money held in Chicago this past August. As we bring this remarkable collection to a close, the memories made during the sale of this collection will live on in the numismatic records books for decades to come.
John loved tokens, medals, historical artifacts, political Americana, Western Americana, and related areas. The present and final sale of his collection is in some ways a continuation of our August presentation of tokens and medals, and in other ways includes hitherto unoffered items such as a simply spectacular listing of political medals, badges, ferrotypes, and buttons—likely the most important ever!
With unstinting energy over a long period of time he traveled widely, had first choice of old-time estates, purchased in the marketplace and at auctions, and in other ways was one of the most important buyers of his time. With a keen sense of rarity and value he often captured prizes that eluded others.
John’s knowledge of the history of our nation was unsurpassed by any numismatist I have ever met. If asked he could mount the proverbial soapbox and discourse on just about anything under the sun—including, relating to items in this sale, the presidencies of George Washington through the elections of the 20th century—and without preparation or notes! As to Western Americana he seems to have known the name of every assayer, every mining camp, and every enterprise of the 19th century.
As I mentioned in the introduction to our recent sale of John’s tokens and medals, his penchant for gaining knowledge and capturing numismatic prizes was not unknown to me, of course. I first met John in the mid-1950s at his office in the back gallery of the New Netherlands Coin Co., became friends with him, and visited him at his home in Rockville Centre and his office in Manhattan many times. After he moved to Arizona I had several nice visits with him there as well.
John was a “grand acquisitor,” to use a term applied to a famous curator of the New York Metropolitan Museum. He let no landmark token, medal, or item of political Americana escape him, or at least that was his intention. Boldness marked his buying strategy. Well studied in the rarity of even obscure items, he pursued treasures relentlessly.
Often the thrill of the chase took precedence to enjoying the items afterward. Although if shown one of his own items he could talk about it endlessly, many purchases were stored in the boxes and envelopes in which he received them. Another of his characteristics was that if one item was worth owning, including rarities, having two, three, or even four was better yet!
I anticipate a lot of interest as the presently-offered items cross the block at the Whitman Coins & Collectibles Expo in Philadelphia. If political Americana including related tokens are your forte, you will be in heaven! The term once in a lifetime opportunity is certainly applicable here. There are many items that, if you do not take them home, will likely forever elude your grasp.
In conclusion I give a nod to the entire Stack’s Bowers Galleries team who helped produce this catalog. Contributions were company-wide requiring literally hundreds of hours to bring you what will certainly remain a standard reference for the future. From our team to you as a prospective bidder, best of success!
Q. David Bowers