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The Amazing Numismatic Team of Dr. and Mrs. Vladimir Clain-Stefanelli , Part 2

By Harvey G. Stack, Founder

Author: Harvey G. Stack / Wednesday, April 20, 2016 / Categories: Harvey G. Stack Remembers

As noted in the first part of this story, the Stefanellis came to the United States after World War II and quickly made their mark on numismatics in this country, including at Stack’s Rare Coins and later in their curatorship of the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian.

In the 1960s the Stefanellis played an important role in bringing to the National Numismatic Collection the incredible collection of gold coins formed by the late Josiah K. Lilly. Congress was solicited to provide a special tax credit for the collection, which comprised over 6,200 different gold coins and contained a virtually complete set of gold coins of the United States, including pioneer and territorial issues. Under the Stefanellis’ leadership the Congress of the United States provided over $5.5 million as a tax credit for the Lilly Estate. The addition of this collection to the holdings of the Smithsonian greatly elevated the National Numismatic Collection’s status

The Stefanellis jointly wrote many books about the Collection, and worked continuously on the displays, which were instructive and illuminating. They even created a Child's Corner for youngsters to see and "touch" coins.

One exhibit that was a highlight of their curatorship was in 1975 when they prepared an elaborate display of "The Bicentennial History of American Banking." It became a landmark-learning exhibit for bankers here and abroad.

The Stefanellis themselves had great passion for collecting and assembling coins of the Roman Republic, Southern Europe, especially Italy and Austria-Germany, and their collecting provided material for their vast numismatic research and writing. After Vladimir passed away in 1982, Elvira took on the reigns and remained at the Smithsonian almost until the day she passed away in 2002.

The Stefanellis’ work for the Smithsonian, for the advancement of numismatics and its studies, and their writings and exhibits will long be remembered as major contributions.