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Building a World Class Numismatic Gold Coin Collection The Josiah K. Lilly Collection Part 26

By Harvey G. Stack, Founder

Author: Harvey G. Stack / Thursday, May 04, 2017 / Categories: Harvey G. Stack Remembers

As we moved into the early years of the 1960s, opportunities to expand the J.K. Lilly Collection of World Gold Coins became more difficult due to the mandatory licensing requirements. The rules set forth by the Office of Gold and Silver Operations (OGSO) seemed to be restrictive and non-revealing. Mr. Leland Howard was in charge of this office keeping counterfeits out of the United States. However, he was not chosen for his numismatic knowledge, as he did not know series, rarities or where to look coins up for identification. No one knew the formula used by the OGSO to approve or deny licenses and often the decisions made by the department seemed arbitrary.

This, of course, hampered our ability to supply more coins that was need by J.K. Lilly as well as other collectors. Mr. Lilly, whose company dealt with government agencies extensively, said to us: ”once they understand what they are doing they will ease imports."   He indicated that he could wait while this was resolved. We were lucky to have such an understanding collector, who had waited for other collectibles. Meanwhile we continued buying from the public, from collectors, from dealers and from any auction that took place.

But all was not resolved for Stack’s as a company. During this time Stack's was offered a major foreign gold coin collection from the Netherlands that had over 900 coins in it. The client wanted to sell the coins at auction in the United States. Needless to say, we were ecstatic.  Included in this collection were a number of coins needed to fill some of the gaps in the J. K. Lilly Collection.  So we received a certified listing of the coins in the collection, and immediately filed for a license.

We thought that a collection of this size and scope would be instantly recognized as being numismatic material. However, the OGSO required that all the coins be looked at separately, resulting in time-consuming paperwork and a lag time while the paperwork was evaluated. As noted earlier, even after three years of restricting imports, no criteria were revealed and all coins had to be examined and judged.

I stress how these regulations interfered with the coin-collecting hobby to preclude any such a government program from being reinstated or started anew. The non-numismatic way that the OGSO was set up and organized, and the fact that it was run by administrators who were not really knowledgeable, were detrimental to both buyers and sellers  -- collectors, dealers, and auctioneers. After working to alleviate these restrictions 50 years ago, I would hate to see such a program reappear.