Harvey Stack Remembers Growing up in a Numismatic Family Part 94

In the spring of 1984 Stack’s was pleased to continue our offerings of important numismatic collections. As noted, our March sale contained Part 2 of the Americana collection formed by the late John L. Roper of Norfolk, Virginia. This sale, like our first offering, was of great historical importance and featured important Colonial currency, Obsolete currency, United States currency, Confederate items, encased postage stamps, Hard Times and Civil War tokens. As with the December 1983 catalog of colonial coins, these items traced the monetary history of our country, from its earliest days. The importance of Mr. Roper’s collection was shown by the fact that when the Smithsonian created an exhibit  in honor of 200 years of banking in America, they asked John L. Roper to borrow some of his notes so that the exhibit could be complete. Like the colonial coins offered in 1983, many of the lots in this auction could be traced to famous collections sold decades before.

In addition to the Roper catalog, Stack’s March 1984 public auction featured the U.S. half dollar collection formed by John Gleen Halsell. Although the collection was not complete it did reflect Mr. Halsell’s desire to only purchase outstanding specimens for his cabinet. The dates ranged from 1795 to 1947 and there were many finest known examples. Notable rarities included 1815, 1847 Proof, 1855/4, 1870-CC, 1873-CC, and 1878-S, along with a wonderful collection of Bust halves, an extensive date run of Liberty Seated coins, and nearly full sets of Barber and Walking Liberty pieces.

Also in the catalog was a comprehensive offering of colonial coins, federal coins from the small cent to the silver dollar, and a nice run of gold coins. Overall the March sale had a great variety of numismatic items that appealed to a wide range of U.S. collectors.

In May, Stack’s was again invited to conduct the auction at the popular Metropolitan New York Numismatic Convention. Because there was such a large number of lots, the sale was split into two parts. Par 1 featured the wonderful collection of New Jersey cents formed by the late Harold Bareford, along with outstanding federal issues from cents to silver dollars and gold coins, world coins, and a fine group of territorial gold. The last included what was possibly the finest known round Kellogg and Co. $50 gold in Brilliant Proof.

Our second May 1984 catalog for the convention contained an outstanding collection of late Roman and Byzantine gold and silver coins from 280 A.D. to 1328, tracing the history of these empires. This portion of this convention sale contained 679 lots that were important and historical, and even had examples showing how the ancient mints found it necessary to debase their currency in order to survive. This collection was part of the huge ancient coin collection formed by Frederick T. Knobloch, a well-known collector who had spent over 40 years studying and accumulating the coins.

Our June 1984 sale also was offered in two parts, one of which was a much anticipated specialized cabinet: The Large Cent Collection formed by Floyd T. Starr. Coins offered in this catalog had great pedigrees, including to noted sales such as Hines, French and Newcomb. Highlights were numerous, like two dozen 1793 dated large cents, two of which were Strawberry Leaf varieties. Outstanding specimens abounded, including those that were the finest known of their varieties. If something was missing from the Starr Collection, it was likely because he was not able to find a piece that represented the quality he required. Among later dates from 1816 to 1857, Mr. Starr also focused on the finest coins. He attended the Newcomb auction in 1945 and made a deal with the auctioneer. After the sale was complete, he had the option to buy the entire Newcomb Collection for 10% over the prices realized at the auction. That total was $4,850, and so Floyd Starr paid $5,350 to purchase it all. As a result Starr had most of the 28 Proofs of 1816-1839 and an additional 24 Proofs from 1840 to 1857, plus many other Mint State examples.

The Floyd T. Starr auction brought back to the market coins that dedicated large cent collectors had sought for years and never had the chance to acquire, as they had been off the market for about half a century. Along with our permanent staff of catalogers, Stack’s engaged the help of prominent specialists, including C. Douglas Smith, Jules Reiver and Denis Loring to present this landmark collection to its finest advantage. In addition to the featured large cents, there was also a lovely group of half cents from 1793 to 1857 that, while not complete, was highlighted by important Proofs of this denomination. In all, the sale had 893 lots of half cents and large cents.

Our second June 1984 sale contained over 600 lots of United States gold, silver and copper coins, that gave general collectors the opportunity to find some "missing links" – common and scarce coins to fill in their collections. Featured was the Thomas A. Bergin Collection of United States Pattern Coins, which had been collected as a type set to show design variations from the half cent to the silver dollar. Of special interest were patterns that displayed the "Washlady" and "Amazon" motifs.

This sale was a great attraction to the collecting public, and numismatists flocked to our auction room for this unusual public sale. It was difficult to imagine that even after these major offerings we were not even halfway through the year!​

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