Long-Awaited Richard Margolis Collection to Sell in the Stack’s Bowers Galleries Spring Auction

Author: Stack's Bowers Galleries / March 2, 2024

Respected Dealer and NYINC Founder Made Medals His Passion

Unique Comitia Americana Medal of John Stewart Highlights Set

Stack’s Bowers Galleries is pleased to present Part I of the Richard Margolis Collection on March 25 at Griffin Studios in Costa Mesa, California. Gathered over more than six decades of dedication to numismatics, Richard Margolis’ collection of American medals and related items showcases his scholarship, his international network of friends and colleagues, and his endless curiosity for objects and their stories. The 243-lot session will feature Margolis’ collections of Betts medals, illustrating persons and events related to American history during the second half of the 18th century. Also featured will be Margolis’ world class collection of portrait medallions of the period.

The Margolis Collection of Comitia Americana and Related Medals is one of the finest ever formed, led by the only privately-owned specimen of the extremely rare John Stewart at Stony Point medal, Betts-267. His collection of terracotta portraits by Jean-Baptiste Nini formed the basis for the award-winning 2015 work Benjamin Franklin in Terra Cotta, while his collection of porcelain medallions by Wedgwood and others is the finest ever offered in an American numismatic auction as well as one of the finest offered anywhere. Highlights include:

Lot 1019. (Ca. 1777) George III Lion and Wolf Indian Peace Medal. Betts-535, Adams 10.1, Dies 1-A. Silver, 61 mm. AU-55 (PCGS).

Lot 1070. 1779 (1789) John Stewart at Stony Point Medal. Betts-567. Bronze, 45.8 mm. MS-62 (PCGS). The Only Confirmed Example in Private Hands

Lot 1079.  1776 (1783) Libertas Americana Medal. Betts-615. Silver, 48 mm. MS-62 (PCGS).

Lot 1092.  1790 Benjamin Franklin, The Lord of Lightning Medal. Fuld FR.M.NL.8. Silver, 39 mm. MS-62 (PCGS).

Lot 1103.  1801 Thomas Jefferson Inaugural / 25th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence Medal. Julian PR-2. Silver, 45 mm. SP-62 (PCGS).

Lot 1142.  1774 Portrait Medallion of Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, to left. By Jean-Baptiste Nini. Baiardi-Sibille 83, Storelli-LIV, Villers-35. Terracotta or Terre de Pipe.

Lot 1154. 1778 Benjamin Franklin Portrait Medallion. Bare Head Left; French Legend. By Jean-Baptiste Nini. Margolis-19, Baiardi-Sibille 95, Greenslet GM-292, Storelli-LXVI, Villers-Unlisted. Terracotta.  

Lot 1167. (Ca. 1775) Benjamin Franklin portrait medallion by Wedgwood and Bentley. Modeled by William Hackwood. Jasperware, white relief on gray-blue ground dipped darker blue. In an ornate contemporary gilt brass frame with mount and ring. 65 x 88 mm. Reilly and Savage type a.

Lot 1177. (Ca. 1778) Benjamin Franklin portrait medallion by Wedgwood and Bentley. Jasperware, white relief on blue-gray ground dipped dark blue with beveled edges. 80 x 99 mm. Reilly and Savage type c. Wedgwood Portraits and the American Revolution (National Portrait Gallery, 1976), pp. 84-85 (this piece).

Lot 1221.  (1777) Rattlesnake DON’T TREAD ON ME intaglio seal by Wedgwood and Bentley. Jasperware, dark blue body with black wash. 20 x 18 mm. Wedgwood Portraits and the American Revolution (National Portrait Gallery, 1976), pp. 118-119.

Bidding for the Richard Margolis Collection is available online at StacksBowers.com. Lot viewing will be available at the Stack’s Bowers Galleries headquarters in Costa Mesa, in their New York Gallery, and at the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Expo in Baltimore, Maryland March 19-22.

Richard Margolis started collecting coins in 1943 and was making significant acquisitions by the early 1950s. He quickly concentrated on France during the era of the French Revolution and the reign of Napoleon. Rather than American numismatics leading him to international collecting interests, his numismatic Francophilia led him back to the United States, with a focus on Parisian favorite Benjamin Franklin. Franklin portraiture in medallic form was interesting to Margolis regardless of composition — bronze or silver, porcelain or terracotta. Around his Franklin collection, Margolis built an impressive cabinet of pieces that displayed those Franklin knew or associated with, leading to a world class collection of Comitia Americana medals in particular.

“The Margolis Collection of Comitia Americana medals is arguably the most complete ever built,” noted cataloger John Kraljevich. “He’s the only collector to have an original John Stewart medal. Richard was savvy enough to locate the medal in an English auction, and it’s been in this cabinet for 40 years. Whoever buys it is the odds-on favorite to become the first person to build a complete set of Comitia Americana medals since the era of the Founding Fathers.”

Margolis’ collection of portrait medallions includes lifetime medallic images of Franklin, Washington, Captain Cook, John Paul Jones, and many other luminaries. “The impressions in terracotta of the portraits by Nini have been legendary since Franklin’s lifetime,” commented cataloger John Pack. “To offer these pieces alongside so many fine rarities by Wedgwood, Sevres, and others makes this an important reference catalog and an exciting departure from a more typical medal sale.”

Richard Margolis (1931-2018) was a native New Yorker and a resident of New Jersey most of his life. His research was featured in well-regarded publications in the United States and Europe, and his knowledgeable but approachable demeanor made him one of the most respected dealers of his generation. In 1972, Margolis and his late wife Sara were among the founders of the New York International Numismatic Convention (NYINC). Future offerings from the Margolis Collection will include rare French coins and patterns, additional portrait medallions of principally European interest, and important coins and medals from around the world.

The entire Stack’s Bowers Galleries Spring 2024 Official Whitman Expo Auction is available for viewing and bidding at StacksBowers.com. For information on consigning coins, medals, tokens and paper money to one of the firm’s upcoming auctions call 800-458-4646 or email Consign@StacksBowers.com.

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 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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