Harvey Stack Remembers: Growing up in a Numismatic Family, Part 81

Stack’s presented over half a dozen public auctions in 1980, featuring collections from various museums as well as private collectors. In February we featured items from several important places, highlighted by a comprehensive collection from the New Canaan Historical Museum. Also included was a cabinet of Charlotte Mint gold coins from Parks Dalton, who with his father and brother had assembled a major collection of this very popular specialty. There were other collections geared toward general collectors, making up a sale of over a thousand lots. Our March sale included items from the Detroit Historical Society, as well as the collection of, Dr. J. Hewitt Judd.

In May we were honored to present the Frederic S. Knobloch Collection of Roman Imperial Coins, which we sold in conjunction with the Metropolitan New York Numismatic Convention that was held at the Park Sheraton Hotel in New York. The sale featured 1,438 lots and was one of the most extensive collection of Roman Imperial Coins offered for sale in the 20th century.

Fred Knobloch was a dedicated collector of coins of the Ancient world. During the 1970s Fred had consigned collections of Ancient Greek coins, and later his collection of Roman Republic coins. Fred had worked for a major civil service agency, and thus was building a superior collections on limited funds. This is what led him to sell his Greek and Roman Republic coins, so he could concentrate on the Roman Imperial series. These Imperial coins told of the empire’s history through the portraits of the Roman Imperial rulers, and the conquests of the world illustrated on most of the pieces. It was a great challenge to get the collection as complete as possible. Fred worked with our catalog team arranging and describing each coin. The Knobloch catalogs became guides for others who were pursuing these coins and are still used today as guides and reference texts. Fred was an active member of all nine numismatic clubs in the Metropolitan New York area and he would lecture on various aspects of Ancient coin collecting at these clubs and also at various museums and libraries.

The convention and the Knobloch auction attracted dealers and collectors from all over the world, and each of the sales brought wonderful prices. Even with the drop in the silver market having a negative effect on numismatics in general, the sale of this collection was very successful and brought some record prices for the time.

In June Stack’s offered a sale with over 1,000 lots, mainly United States coins but also featuring 160 lots of world coins. It was a popular sale due to the wide variety of offerings. Once again, this showed the basic enthusiasm that was still in the coin hobby, and was a precursor for the market improvements that would come later in the year.

In August Stack’s once again joined in partnership with three other firms to present Auction ’80. The 500 lots Stack’s presented in the sale included rare type coins, early Liberty Seated and Barber Proof sets, minor coins in Proof and Mint state as well as an extensive offering of silver dollars, from early years through Morgans. This time the sale was held in Cincinnati, attracted collectors from all over the nation and featured enthusiastic bidding.

Our very successful sale of the Knobloch Collection earlier in 1980 brought in further consignments of ancient and world coins and in September we offered a sale of 524 lots. While the sale was relatively small, we received a large number of mail bid sheets, phone bids, and there was a large audience of advanced collectors. The activity at the sale seemed to confirm that the interest in collecting was reviving.

In October Stack’s sold the estate of Charles Kahn, a 985 lot collection of United States gold, silver and copper coins, mostly in choice and better grade. It was assembled over several decades and, again, the extent of the offering attracted a crowd of well-known and outstanding collectors to New York to participate in the sale. Though the market was not as high as a few years back, the scope and quality of the collection resulted in high prices. Stack’s 1980 auction season closed out with our December sale featuring more than 850 lots of popular United States gold, silver and copper. Our December sales often were well attended, as collectors would come to the city before the holidays and participate in the auction while their wives and families would spend time shopping.

While 1980 was not an easy year to navigate, Stack’s was able to have a somewhat successful season because of the number of consignments we were able to obtain and present and the fact that dedicated numismatists were still able to visit us, and buy or trade. As things had started to trend upward in the market, we looked forward to a better year in 1981.

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