Over the past few weeks I have focused on collector R.L. Miles, Jr. (called by the nickname Skinny) and his evolution from a change sorter into an advanced collector. He used the Guide Books of the 1950s and 1960s to decide which United States gold, silver and copper coins he would collect. In those days this annual reference listed the series as issued and some varieties that could be readily seen with normal eyesight. This would later change and now each year more and more different varieties are listed. But in his time, Skinny Miles limited his collection to what he could find in the editions of his time.
Using the Guide Book, R.L. Miles, Jr. amassed an almost complete collection of United States coins. In order to store them and to be able to view the coins without handling them, he had large Lucite holders made for each series. In this way he could examine both sides. When the coins were displayed in the large exhibit room of the new Virginia National Bank Headquarters Building in 1968, the Lucite cases were an important part of the exhibit. The bank, in order to provide easy viewing of the collection, erected wall cases around the room. Into these cases were placed the large plastic holders, all gold stamped with dates and mints, in strict denomination and date order.
It was a dazzling display and attracted over 1,000 visitors on opening day. During the over three months that the coins were on display during banking hours, tens of thousands came to view the collection, including schoolchildren learning about the money of the United States. Included in the display were the following items:
U.S. half cents: Beginning with 1793, a complete set through 1857, including all the Proofs from 1840.
U.S. large cents: Also beginning with 1793, this complete set included 1793 Chain, Wreath and Cap, 1799 and 1804 issues, together with many outstanding rarities in choice condition.
U.S. small cents: Commencing in 1856 with the Flying Eagle cent, the collection continued straight through with Indian Head and later Lincoln cents, with both Proof and Uncirculated examples.
U.S. two-cent pieces: Featured were an 1864 Small Motto and a Proof 1873.
U.S. three-cent nickels: Complete in Proof.
U.S. five-cent nickels: Complete from 1866 Shield nickels, through Liberty, Buffalo and Jefferson designs, also in Mint State and Proof.
U.S. half dimes: Highlighted by choice 1794, 1795, 1796, 1797 and later dates, including the 1859 Transitional, and including many Mint State and Proof specimens.
U.S. dimes: Included a complete set of the early Bust design, Liberty Seated, Barber, Mercury and Roosevelt coinage. Among the highlights were 1796, 1797 and the 1859 Transitional.
U.S. twenty-cent pieces: Complete set of the seven coins, highlighted by the seldom offered 1876-CC.
U.S. quarters: A complete set starting with 1796 and including all the early Bust types, Liberty Seated, Barber, Standing Liberty and Washington issues, highlighted by outstanding examples of the 1796, 1823 Original and 1827 in premium grades as were the majority of the series.
U.S. half dollars: Starting in 1794, the collection was complete with the Bust, Liberty Seated, Barber, Liberty Walking and Franklin issues, with many coins in either Mint State or Proof. Included were premium examples of 1794, 1796, 1797, a pristine 1878-S and the rare 1892 Microscopic O, plus a full set of commemoratives.
U.S. silver dollars: A complete early dollar set 1794 to 1803, with a number of varieties plus a good number of the Gobrecht issues and complete sets of Liberty Seated (including the 1870-S), Morgan, and Peace dollars, highlighted by many Mint State and Proof examples.
This portion of the collection was sold after the exhibit closed in 1969. The gold portion of the collection was sold in 1968, and will be discussed in Part 4 of this blog.