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Bringing Home A Coin Collection in 1953, Part III

By Harvey G. Stack, Senior Numismatic Consultant

Author: Stack's Bowers Galleries / Thursday, May 09, 2013 / Categories: Harvey G. Stack Remembers
Part III – Transporting the Collection

At this point I had to consider, “How does one pack such a collection?” But I had learned from my father and uncle on earlier trips. Conveniently the caretaker provided me with special large sheets of tissue that had been used to wrap the special needles the factory once produced. The needles had needed protection from damage of any kind, as perfection was necessary, and so the tissue was perfect for my use. To pack the coins I took one tray at a time to the large conference table, laid out a sheet of this fine tissue, put about eight to ten coins end to end, and then folded the tissue over the top. Then I placed another row, folded it over again, and so on until I had six or seven layers. I then folded the ends over, tightened the tissue about the package and used a special tape they still had in the factory to keep it closed. I then set the flat package aside on the table. I did this over and over, 90 to 100 times. I had to be very careful and make the packages tight so the coins would not touch each other in any way, even after I packed them in special jeweler’s cases and put them in the car for the return trip to New York.

I started at 8:00 in the morning and continued packing until about 3:00 in the afternoon, always checking the inventory, with just some coffee and cake brought to me mid-day by the caretaker. I was pretty sure neither my father or uncle could have done this without help, but I was on my own and had to complete the job. As I finished the packing, the lawyer for the owner came in and asked me if everything had checked out okay. When I reported that it had, he gave me a check, bid me goodbye and left me and the caretaker to take the cases to the car and load them up before I started my long drive back to New York.

I called ahead to let my father know I was on my way and that it would be about 10:00 at night before I would be back to the office. He gave me the customary fatherly advice to drive carefully and that he would be waiting for me when I got there. As I drove home I thought about all the coins I had packed and how they had been in that cabinet a number of years, unattended, and were still of the same quality and beauty as when they were placed there decades earlier. I still wonder at how it stayed so safe for so long in that office.

The Davis-Graves Collection was the first major collection I picked up alone and being given such a responsibility was a compliment from my family. To this day I remember the experience and how I had been taught to conduct myself when dealing with a collectors and the valuable numismatic properties that eventually go on to others who will also appreciate the wonders of collecting. It is our obligation as coin dealers to provide the vehicle by which items in one collection move to another, so that the beauty and joy of collecting can be perpetuated from one generation to another. That is the way collections are built and how the appreciation of numismatics grows. A dealer can share the enthusiasm of what has been done before and encourage it to be done again in the future.