Growing up in a Numismatic Family: Part 115

While Harvey Stack passed away on January 3 of this year, we are pleased to continue to offer readers the articles he had already written, so that they can be read and enjoyed as he would have wished.

In September 1993 we held a public auction in conjunction with The Greater New York Fall Numismatic Convention, which was added to the schedule because the annual May convention of this group was so popular. Our sale featured 1,300 lots that included United States gold, silver and copper coins, as well as the extensive Harold M. Korin Collection of Fractional Currency, the John J. Ford Collection of Charleston, SC Slave Hire Badges, and the Rhode Island Collection of Colonial Coins. Besides offering items of interest to both beginning and advanced collectors, the specialized collections offered many things that were almost never seen.

October brought our sale of a cabinet that many had waited decades to bid on – the Reed Hawn Collection. Stack’s was privileged to have helped build this important, high quality collection and we were pleased to be chosen to catalog and sell it at auction. Over the years Reed had been an active bidder and client of Stack’s and he was an important buyer of some of the choices and rarest coins offered for sale over the past few decades.

I first met Reed years before when he traveled with his father from Texas to Stack’s to add to his collection. He had done his homework before arriving, and the discussions we had were enlightening to us in the office, as well as informative to the growth of his cabinet. To begin, he and his father filled many of the minor sets of coins that were readily available from our stock or in forthcoming auctions. His holdings were complete in small cents, two-cent pieces, silver and nickel three-cent pieces, and nickel five-cent pieces. His dimes were nearly complete, he had 20-cent pieces, quarters from 1837 to 1955, half dollars from 1794 to 1947 and silver dollars from 1794 to 1935. Among the silver dollars were six different varieties of rare Gobrecht dollars – one of the most complete sets we had ever offered for sale.

Highlighting the 1993 Reed Hawn collection sale were two extreme rarities: the Mickley 1804 silver dollar and a 1913 Liberty Head nickel. These were the stars of Reed’s collection, pieces that always attracted a huge amount of attention and publicity when they were offered for auction. He also owned the famous 1842 Small Date quarter, the highlight of his Liberty Seated quarter collection. Though this collection was not complete, he had many of the greatest and choicest coins starting with the first year of issue. Unfortunately, he was not always able to find a coin of high enough quality, in Mint State or Proof, to satisfy him and match the other dates and mints in his growing collection.

Reed Hawn also bought original Proof sets, starting in 1858 and into the 1880s, and then had a number of original sets in the Barber series. Because each coin in these original sets were so beautiful. Reed suggested and we agreed to offer these exceptional Proof pieces individually. In that way, those who specialized in certain denominations could take advantage of this great opportunity. We found many buyers were excited to have the sets broken up and this decision was well rewarded by the results of the sale.

Though Reed Hawn favored the minor coins and silver issues of the United States for their beauty and eye appeal, he did acquire some U.S. gold coins and these were also presented in the auction. Reed had a complete set of gold dollar and an extensive run of $3 gold pieces, highlighted by a superb 1876 Proof. He had a complete set of Indian eagles in outstanding Proof or Mint State condition.

Also offered were some rolls of later date Indian Head cents, Buffalo nickels, Roosevelt dimes, Washington quarters, Liberty Walking half dollars, and some Morgan dollars. Some were complete rolls, others had one or two pieces missing from when Reed would search each roll for the best one he could find.

Reed Hawn was a dedicated collector who traveled numerous times to attend Stack’s sales and to attend conventions nationwide. He was referred to us by Amon Carter, Jr., Thomas Law and other collectors that he came to know from Texas. We were always happy to provide guidance and do anything we could to help him advance his collection. He told us that it was the personal attention that we gave him that made him a better collector and led him to consign his cabinet to us. For decades before and after, we were close friends and he was indeed a pleasure to work with. After he sold his collection, he still attended conventions and auctions and for many years he was a member of the Commemorative Coinage Committee of Congress and his vast experience provided numismatic guidance on the designs and issuances of many of our coins.

In the final month of the year, we were pleased to offer a benefit auction for the American Numismatic Society’s 135th Anniversary Gala, a sale of over 1,700 lots from donors and consignors. There was very active and enthusiastic bidding on the floor during the Gala for the many treasures that had been consigned and the sale was a great success with the proceeds going to the Society.  After the sale was over, my son Larry and I received a large round of applause from the audience for our contributions to the success of the Gala.

A week later, on December 8, Stack’s was pleased to offer 1,148 lots of Ancient and Foreign Coins of the World, a sale held in conjunction with the New York International Numismatic Convention. It was a great way to close out 1993, and it had been another important and memorable year for the Stack family. 

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