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Harvey Stack Remembers

Harvey Stack Remembers: Growing up in a Numismatic Family, Part 62

By Harvey Stack, Co-Founder

Author: Harvey Stack / Thursday, January 30, 2020 / Categories: Harvey G. Stack Remembers

In Spring 1973, Lawrence R. Stack (Larry), graduated from Ohio University in Akron, Ohio. He majored in History and Finance, both subjects that were very beneficial to his joining the numismatic business. Larry is the son of Harvey, the nephew of Joseph, and the cousin of both Ben and Norman. This brought the number of Stack family members working in the business back to five, a number we hadn’t had since my father Morton’s death in 1967. As was true of all of us, Larry had spent his earlier days, from public school through his university years, helping at the shop when time permitted. He worked first as an apprentice, and then as a full time numismatist at Stack's. He learned how to grade coins, buy and sell, and deal with clients. He joined the firm with the benefit of already meeting and becoming friends with many of the senior collectors who would visit the shop. He was taught by the specialized staff that Stack’s maintained and learned quickly. He became well respected as a professional numismatist within a year of two of becoming "full time."

Besides working in the shop and helping with many other facets of the business, Larry concentrated on collecting. He built an expanded type set of United States coins, modeled after the prize-winning set that Norman had developed and wrote a definitive book on. Larry also focused on specialized collections of Renaissance gold and silver, ancient gold and silver coins in the Greek and Roman series, and a comprehensive collection of English gold and silver. When each was near completion, he sold at them at auction, using the funds to expand his other collections. For him, building the collections was a learning exercise that he enjoyed. Not only did he develop love for each specialized collection, but he also became friendly with those who shared that interest. He always advocated and adhered to the policy, “Read the book before you start collecting.” Larry’s career as a numismatist continues to this day, and he is a founder (along with myself and Dave Bowers) of Stack’s Bowers Galleries.

Stack’s also offered a series of great auctions in 1973, several of which are remembered today as important pedigree sales. Here I list the highlight sales, and some of their features.

In early March we offered the Nate Smith Collection of around 1,879 lots, which featured a comprehensive date and mint collection for general collectors. Later in March we presented a comprehensive collection of colonial and federal coinage going back to the early days of our country. These were consigned by the Massachusetts Historical Society which was dispersing parts of the legendary Adams Family Collection. That cabinet had numerous coins that the family assembled as they pursued their political and legislative lives. Our March 1973 offering featured just over 1,200 lots. In May we offered the renowned C.H. Patten Collection of hundreds of U.S. half dollars beginning with 1794 as well as other series of popular interest. This sale had some 1,065 lots, in various grades and rarity.

In August, we had the privilege of presenting one of the most famous name collections of that era, the renowned collection of Reed Hawn. A few decades earlier, Mr. Hawn had come from his home in Texas, with his father, to visit Stack’s to begin to build a super quality collection. The years he was assembling his collection happened to coincide with many famous old time holdings being sold. Though he had minor coins in both Proof and Mint State, the highlight of his collection was the fantastic array half dollars, including early Proof issues and highlights from 1794 to 1947 either in Proof or outstanding  Mint State grades. To list them all would be lengthy, but I mention here some of the outstanding rarities:

1794 through 1807: basically Mint State and included 1795, three different Varieties, 1796 15 and 16 Star, 1797, 1801

1807 through 1836: a large group of varieties which all were Mint State, choice, with some Proofs or first strikes.

1836 to 1947: virtually complete, highlighted by 1838-O in Proof, 1847/6, a run from 1850 to 1857 in Proof, along with an 1853-O in Presentation Proof grade.

He also had all of the later dates in Mint State and Proof, including the 1878-S in Gem condition. It was really an unrivaled collection. The entire offering embraced some 808 lots, and was one of the most popular collections offered that year.

In late November 1973 another major collection of United States gold, silver and copper coins was awarded to Stack’s, the property of George Scanlon. George was a fierce competitor in many of our earlier sales. He would sit in the back of the auction room and bid strongly on many of the choice and rare coins we offered for sale. George was a client for over a half a century, and originally started his collection with his grandchildren involved. But when the children grew up and did not fully embrace collecting, George decided to sell his massive collection. The sale contained some 2,797 lots of individual coins and sets, especially pre-1915 silver and copper Proof sets and full runs of all series mostly in Mint State and Proof.

The Hawn and Scanlon collections, together with three other general collections also that also sold that year (including a major offering of Greek and Roman coinage), the firm had a wonderful year of activity and the honor of serving many clients.