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Harvey Stack Recounts Early Day of Auctions

Harvey Stack Remembers: Growing up in a Numismatic Family, Part 52

By Harvey Stack, Co-Founder

Author: Harvey Stack / Thursday, September 05, 2019 / Categories: Harvey G. Stack Remembers

Stack' s started their 1969 auction season with a January offering of United States, gold, silver and copper coins, perfect for the general collector as there were over 1,100 lots featuring a wide variety of grades and rarity. There were also smaller specialized collections, including one featuring Encased Postage Stamps.

 

In March we auctioned the James Dines Collection of United States gold and silver coins. For those who do not recognize the name, James Dines was a prominent financial advisor in the 1950s and 1960s and his opinions were followed by many. He ran a successful brokerage silver business and he was quoted in newspapers and on the radio. It was his interest in precious metals that got him started after his father left him a collection. This sale had 1,119 lots, of consisting of some 469 lots of foreign and ancient gold and silver, which he used to trace monetary history.

 

He personally liked U.S. coins, and he had started by assembling a U.S. type set, so he could be familiar with the various designs, and study American monetary history and issues. He also amassed collections of dates and mints of some series from the half cent to the double eagle, usually in Mint State or Proof. His United States coins made up 650 lots in the sale.

 

In April Stack's was pleased to present the major sale of the year, in conjunction with the Metropolitan New York Numismatic Convention. This was the R.L. Miles Collection of United States Copper and Silver Coins. In my discussion of 1968 I told the story of R.L. Miles, (Skinny, to his friends) and of the sale of his extensive collection of U.S. Gold coins, a landmark sale held that year.

 

Collectors who knew Skinny, had seen his collection on display, and had competed against him in many auctions knew that this portion of his collection offered a great opportunity to acquire choice and rare coins, which had eluded them in the past.

 

Realizing that many would attend the sale, we decided to hold it in the largest ballroom in the Park Sheraton Hotel. The Main Ballroom, located on the lower level of the hotel could readily sit 400 to 500 people. Considering our pre-sale exhibit attracted hundreds of viewers, and the sale was part of the largest regional convention in the East, we set up some 400 chairs. The collection attracted so many bidders that we had to set up 100 more and as the sale progressed, for most of the time we had standing room only.

 

What attracted so many bidders?

 

It was a virtually complete set of United States copper and silver coins in outstanding condition, many of which were pedigreed to collections of decades before. This offered collectors a rare opportunity to add to their collections and thus brought in a crowd of bidders.

 

Some of the highlights that were sold:

 

Half cents 1793 - 1857: A comprehensive date set, with the following highlights in mostly Mint State: 1793, 1796 Pole to Cap, and most
of the Proofs from 1831 to 1857, both Originals and Restrikes

Large cents 1793 – 1857: A date run in very high grades, highlighted by all three designs of 1793, 1794 and other issues in very nice grade including Mint State and later Proof examples.

Small cents:  1856 - 1947, with mostly Proofs, featuring 1856, 1857, 1858,
1864 "L", and 1877 to mention a few.

Two cents, nickel and silver three cents and five cents, with the early issues in Brilliant Proof and others in choice Mint State

Half dimes 1794 - 1873: Virtually a full set with many in Mint State or beautiful condition, which included early Proofs and one of the finest assemblages of New Orleans (O Mint) half dimes. He also had the 1859 type of 1860.

Dimes 1796 - 1946: All dates and mints, mostly Mint State or glittering Proof. Again the early types were extremely choice, the New Orleans examples were Gem quality and the Proofs were complete from 1855. Only one was missing from the Miles Collection, the 1894-S rarity.

Twenty-cent pieces 1875 - 1878: These were in brilliant Proof or superb Mint State and included the very rare 1876-CC.

 

Quarter dollars 1796 - 1947: Another almost complete set, mostly
Mint State and highlighted by such rarities as 1796, 1804, 1823/2, 1827 (both an original and restrike), 1842-O small date in Proof, a Mint State 1853/2 no arrows, 1878-S, Proofs from 1854 to date, and exceptional
Proof and Mint State examples in the Barber and Liberty Standing series.


Half dollars 1794 – 1947: Virtually  all dates and mints and one of R.L. Miles' favorite series. The rarities included Mint State 1794, 1795 , 1796 (both varieties), 1797, 1801, and an extensive run of dates and sub varieties of the Bust series. The Liberty Seated series was complete with Proofs starting with 1855 and including the great rarity 1878-S, a superb collection of Carson City coins, and a full run of both the Barber and Liberty Walking halves in outstanding Proof and Mint State.


Silver dollars 1794-1935, and trade dollars 1873-1883: This was an outstanding offering with highlights like 1794, and many of the early varieties, There were eight different dates and varieties of Gobrecht dollars and among the Liberty Seated issues there was 1851, 1852, 1858, and the rare 1870-S. Complete collections of Morgan and Peace dollars were followed by an outstanding collection of trade dollars, one of the finest to be offered on the market in decades.


The New York Convention had a record crowd attending, many of whom had traveled from all over to attend the convention and bid in this important auction. Record prices were realized, and publicity about the sale influenced others to start collecting rare coins or upgrade and add to the collections they already had. It was considered a real landmark sale that had a very positive effect on the market.