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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.