Colonial Coins and Medals Featured in Part V of the Sydney F. Martin Collection Realize Over $2 Million in the Stack’s Bowers November 2023 Auction

Author: Stack's Bowers Galleries / December 20, 2023

Stack’s Bowers Galleries presented Part V of the Sydney F. Martin Collection in Griffin Studios as part of  their November 2023 Official Auction of the Whitman Coin Expo. This much anticipated auction featured some of Martin’s most prized specialty collections and realized $2,004,750, building on the success of the firm’s previous offerings from the Martin Collection, which now total well over $17 million and counting. (All prices include the buyer’s fee.)

Syd Martin was well known for his exceptional collecting acumen and legendary holdings of early American coins, medals, tokens, and paper money. His research produced authoritative reference works for many of his collecting specialties. He was an active, enthusiastic member of and contributor to numismatic clubs and organizations like the Colonial Coin Collectors Club (C4) and the American Numismatic Society (ANS).

As had been true in the August 2023 Part IV auction of the Martin Collection, Betts medals produced some of the strongest prices of all categories, a welcome trend for this long-underappreciated series of early American numismatics. Healthy prices were also found among the other series featured in this Part V auction: Wood’s Hibernia coinage, Voce Populi coinage, 1787 Connecticut coppers, Auctori Plebis tokens, and St. Patrick coinage. The results underscore the demand for exceptional coins with storied pedigrees as well as the broader strength of the market for type coins and varieties in each of these categories.

The second offering from Martin’s collection of contemporary medals relating to the colonial history of America, better known as Betts medals, produced surprising price results across the board. Martin brought an ecumenism to his collecting, gathering up historically significant items worth just a few hundred dollars, as well as those worth into six figures. In the August offering of Betts medals, gold items led the way, but in this auction, it was major historical rarities in silver and bronze.  Martin’s silver (1737) Honos et Virtus French Indian Peace medal (Betts-160) is one of just three in private hands. Still boasting its original hanger and now graded PCGS EF-40, it brought $78,000. An extremely rare 1779 medal in white metal commemorating the death of Captain Cook with the reverse reading “Kill’d by the Indians at O’Why’Hee” (Betts-554) and graded PCGS MS-64 brought $24,000. Martin’s example of an original bronze striking of the 1781 (ca.1789) Daniel Morgan at Cowpens medal (Betts-593), graded SP-64 BN by PCGS and pedigreed to the Ford Collection, saw intense bidding that drove it to $264,000. This result was more than three times the price brought by the John Adams specimen sold by Stack’s Bowers Galleries in 2019. Martin collected a complete set of the rare 1787 Columbia and Washington medals, relics of the earliest American forays into the Pacific Northwest and of the first American expedition to circumnavigate the globe. His lovely copper example, graded PCGS AU-55, climbed to $66,000 in active bidding.

The Wood’s Hibernia coinages were close to Martin’s heart, as they were the first series to receive Syd’s thorough treatment in his detailed 2007 book The Hibernia Coinage of William Wood. Offered in this auction were the crème-de-la-crème of the collection – 25 pieces out of many hundreds that Martin collected as part of his comprehensive die study of the series. The very rare 1724 Wood’s Hibernia Pattern halfpenny with scepter and trident reverse brought $45,600 in a PCGS SP-64 BN encapsulation. A very rare silver striking of a 1723 Wood’s Hibernia halfpenny graded MS-62 by PCGS sold for $26,400.

The 1760-dated Voce Populi Irish coppers were long ago adopted into the American Colonial series and the Martin holdings contained the only complete collection of the series ever offered. In the Part V auction, the PCGS EF-40 example of Nelson-17, a unique coin discovered only in 2011, set a record for the entire series at $40,800.

Syd Martin’s collection of Connecticut coppers was the most complete every formed by a private collector. Stack’s Bowers Galleries has been offering sections of this elite holding starting with Part II in November 2022. The Part V auction featured the second half of his 1787 Connecticut coppers, with many Rarity-7 and Rarity-8 pieces included. Two die pairings in the series have been unique for over a century and led the prices realized of the over 100 Connecticut coppers. The Miller 33.22-II, with the I in AUCTORI punched over an O, graded PCGS VG-8 and from the Ryder, Boyd, Ford and Partrick collections, soared to $31,200. The Miller 37.4-RR, graded PCGS VF-20, brought $20,400. Both sold for more than their previous recent auction appearances, indicative of a strengthening market for Connecticut coppers.

Rounding out Part V of the Sydney F. Martin Collection were 155 die variety selections from his vast collection of St. Patrick coinage, on which Martin published the first ever comprehensive reference book in 2018. A lovely PCGS VF-35 graded example of the St. Patrick farthing with “Halo Around Saint’s Head”’ brought $19,200; it once graced the cabinet of famed colonial coin collector and dealer Richard Picker, whose collection was sold by Stack’s in 1984. A St. Patrick farthing struck in silver of the Martin 1d.1-Ba.11 variety, graded AU-55+ by PCGS, realized $20,400. 

The strong results realized in the first five live auction offerings from the Sydney F. Martin Collection are a fitting tribute to his extraordinary numismatic achievements and contributions to the hobby, as well as a reflection of the diligent efforts of the Stack’s Bowers Galleries team. Complete prices realized for the Martin Collection Part V, as well as the firm’s entire November 2023 Showcase Auction are available at More information on the Sydney F. Martin Collection can be found on our Featured Collections page. To consign your coins, medals, tokens, and paper money to a Stack’s Bowers Galleries auction, call 800-458-4646 or email

About Stack’s Bowers Galleries

Stack’s Bowers Galleries conducts live, Internet and specialized auctions of rare U.S. and world coins and currency and ancient coins, as well as direct sales through retail and wholesale channels. The company’s nearly 90-year legacy includes the cataloging and sale of many of the most valuable United States coin and currency collections to ever cross an auction block — The D. Brent Pogue Collection, The John J. Ford, Jr. Collection, The Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection, The Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection, The Joel R. Anderson Collection, The Norweb Collection, The Cardinal Collection, The Sydney F. Martin Collection and The Battle Born Collection — to name just a few. World coin and currency collections include The Pinnacle Collection, The Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection of World Gold Coins, The Kroisos Collection, The Alicia and Sidney Belzberg Collection, The Salton Collection, The Wa She Wong Collection, and The Thos. H. Law Collection. 

The company is headquartered in Costa Mesa, California, with galleries in New York, Boston and Philadelphia. Offices are also located in New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Virginia, Hong Kong, Paris and Vancouver. Stack’s Bowers Galleries hosts an annual Global Showcase in August featuring United States coins and currency, Ancient coins and World coins and currency in its Costa Mesa auction gallery. They are also the Official Auctioneer for several important numismatic events, including the New York International Numismatic Convention, the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Spring, Summer and Winter Expos, the Spring and Fall Hong Kong shows, and the Maastricht Paper Money Shows. 

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