The John W. Adams Collection of Spanish Colonial Proclamation Medals Will Be Offered at the Stack’s Bowers Galleries Official Auction of the NYINC

Author: Stack's Bowers Galleries / December 12, 2014

IRVINE, Calif. (December 8,  2014) — Stack’s Bowers Galleries is privileged to present to the numismatic community an incredible cabinet of Spanish Colonial Proclamation medals: The John W. Adams Collection. Over the last several decades, Mr. Adams carefully assembled this collection acquiring many of the medals from Richard Ponterio. Stack’s Bowers Galleries has a long association with Mr. Adams, having sold his famous collection of 1794 large cents in 1982 and his European Indian Peace Medal Collection in January 2009.

John W. Adams has been collecting for nearly 60 years. Like many serious numismatists, he began collecting Lincoln cents from circulation and filling in old coin folders. As he became more advanced, he built a collection of Proof Indian Head cents, as well as an extensive collection of 1794 large cent varieties that the firm (Bowers and Merena) sold in 1984. About this time he changed his focus to historical medals. Over the years John Adams built a definitive collections of European Indian Peace medals, which was sold at the firm’s (Stack’s) 2009 January Americana Sale. As he continues to collect and research these intriguing areas of numismatics, Stack’s Bowers Galleries has again been chosen to sell this important cabinet of Spanish Colonial Proclamation medals, one of the most complete and advanced collections offered in recent memory.

Proclamation medals are highly historic and important, and due to their overall rarity, seldom offered in the marketplace. Over the years, Stack’s Bowers Galleries has been privileged to offer more of these medals than any other numismatic auction firm. Generally speaking Proclamation medals were produced in various cities (or bishopric, church, college, etc.) to display loyalty and allegiance to the new monarch. In the Spanish Empire, these were produced in various colonial cities, and were issued during the festivals and ceremonies honoring the new king. These were often lavish events, and in Buenos Aires, the proclamation ceremonies for Ferdinand VI lasted for 21 days and constituted the largest festival held there during the colonial era. Despite generous production figures, the number of Proclamation medals that survive to the current day is quite small. Generally they were made in silver, although there were examples produced in gold and bronze. Since these medals were thrown to the crowds during these proclamation ceremonies, they were more likely to be spent or melted than saved. As a general rule the earlier medals (Philip V-Charles III) are much rarer than the later medals of Charles IV and Ferdinand VII. Many of the early medals are found holed to be worn as a medallion by the upper class. If a new king was proclaimed, existing medals were often replaced with those of the current reigning monarch. Thus many of the earlier medals were melted down and the metal repurposed. A large number of the medals from this early period are exceedingly rare, ranging from unique to only a few examples known.

The John W. Adams Collection of Spanish Colonial Proclamation medals offers collectors a rare and in some cases unique opportunity to acquire highly significant and seldom offered historical medals. Mr. Adams focused his collection on medals pertaining to events that took place in the New World prior to the independence of the United States in 1776, primarily on the reigns of Philip V to Charles III (1701-61), with a few later date medals also included. “The John W. Adams Collection is by far the most advanced cabinet of these early medals to ever be sold at public auction,” said Richard Ponterio, executive vice president of Stack’s Bowers Galleries. “It features many rarities, along with several items that are believed to be unique. During the period Mr. Adams was collecting, several major, old time collections came to market, allowing him to acquire many incredibly rare pieces that had never been offered before.” A good number of the medals in this collection were sold in the 1990s in a series of sales including the Ponterio & Associates Sale #87 in April 1997. Additional pieces were purchased at the Ponterio & Associates Sale # 109 in October 2000 when the firm offered The Porraz Collection. Shortly after The Porraz Collection was sold, The Lavin Collection was dispersed, offering further opportunity for Mr. Adams to add rarities to his cabinet. “This period of time was an embarrassment of riches for this incredibly rare series,” said Richard Ponterio. “The number of Proclamation medals made available in this short period resulted from several major collections appearing on the market, but is not indicative of the rarity or availability of these medals in the general marketplace.” Senior numismatist and consignment director of world and ancient coins Kent Ponterio added: “These circumstances allowed The Adams Collection to become the apex of all early proclamation collections. Assembling a collection of comparable magnitude in this day and age is highly improbable.”

“It has been a joy and an honor to view and catalog this many early Proclamation medals in one collection. I commend Mr. Adams for assembling such an important collection, and hope that the presentation of this cabinet allows today’s numismatists to appreciate the hard work and effort required for such an accomplishment,” Richard Ponterio concluded.

Highlights of this important cabinet include:

Lot 1002. MEXICO. Veracruz. Cast Silver Proclamation Medal, 1701. Philip V (1701-46). VERY FINE.

Lot 1011. MEXICO. Veracruz. Cast Silver Proclamation Medal, 1747. Ferdinand VI (1746-59). Choice Very Fine.

Lot 1013. MEXICO. Zacatecas. Gilt Cast and Chased Silver Proclamation Medal, ND. Ferdinand VI (1746-59). CHOICE EXTREMELY FINE.

Lot 1032. MEXICO. Valladolid de Michoacan. Silver Proclamation Medal, 1760. Charles III (1759-88). CHOICE EXTREMELY FINE.

Lot 1039. ARGENTINA. Buenos Aires. Cast Silver Proclamation Medal, 1747. Ferdinand VI (1746-59). Extremely Fine.

Lot 1044. COLOMBIA. Santa Fe de Bogota. Silver Proclamation Medal, 1760. Charles III (1759-88). Very Fine.

In addition to his acclaimed collections, John Adams has authored dozens of articles and published six numismatic reference books: United States Numismatic Literature, Volume I; United States Numismatic Literature, Volume II; The Indian Peace Medals of George III; The Medals Concerning John Law and the Mississippi System; Comitia Americana and Related Medals; and Medallic Portraits of Admiral Vernon, Medals Sometimes Lie.

This extensive corpus led to the American Numismatic Society bestowing upon Mr. Adams its highest award, the Archer M. Huntington Medal for lifetime achievement in numismatic scholarship. The award ceremony and celebratory dinner took place in Boston on April 26, 2014, and Mr. Adams noted: “The hobby is only partially about the breadth of a collection and the quality of the coins. Rather, the unexpected but greatly-to-be-desired outcome of collecting is the sharing of knowledge and experience with persons of like mind. It is these lasting bonds of friendship that are the true treasures of the hobby.” We cannot agree more.

The John W. Adams Collection will be sold Saturday, January 10, at the beginning of Session B of the Official Auction of the Stack’s Bowers New York International Numismatic Convention. Other important collections being offered are The Stanley Aberdeen Collection of Swedish Plate Money, The Richard Aghababian Collection of Ancient Coins, The Ray Czahor Collection of Philippine Countermark Coins, selections from The Demarete Collection, The Rockaway Collection, and other properties.

For more information on this sale, or to request a catalog, contact a Stack’s Bowers Galleries associate at 800.458.4646 (West Coast), 800.566.2580 (East Coast), 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 80-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 John J. Ford, Jr. Collection, The Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection, The Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection, The Norweb Collection, The Cardinal Collection and The Battle Born Collection — to name just a few. World coin and currency collections include The Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection of World Gold Coins, The Kroisos Collection, The Alicia and Sidney Belzberg Collection, The Wa She Wong Collection, The Guia Collection, The Thos. H. Law Collection, and The Robert O. Ebert Collection.

Topping off this amazing numismatic history is the inclusion of the world record for the highest price ever realized at auction for a rare coin, the 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar graded Specimen-66 (PCGS) that realized over $10 million, part of their sale of the famed Cardinal Collection. The company is headquartered in Irvine, California, with offices in New York, Wolfeboro, Hong Kong, and Paris. Stack’s Bowers Galleries is an Official Auctioneer for several important numismatic conventions, including American Numismatic Association events, the New York International Numismatic Convention, the Professional Numismatists Guild New York Invitational, the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Spring, Summer and Winter Expos, and its April and August Hong Kong Auctions.



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