As I write this story of the J.W. Schmandt Collection it is February 2015 and the continuous snow the Northeast has received over three weekends in a row inspired me to write about this famous collection, sold by Stack's in February 1957, during one of the worst winters in New York since the blizzard of 1888.
As reported earlier this was an amazing happening in the history of numismatic auctions. It is rare for weather conditions to delay or cancel a public auction sale, but in this case they almost did.
The J.W. Schmandt Collection was systematically collected with rarity and quality as its goal. In the mid 1950s, after the King Farouk sale in Cairo in 1953 and two major sales by Stack's in 1954 (Davis-Graves and Anderson DuPont), few sales offered the collectors such a wide range of material. To give you a general picture of the rarities it contained and its completeness, I will review some of the highlights that brought collectors to New York, despite the blizzard conditions.
The Schmandt Collection offered virtually complete sets of small cents, two-cent pieces, three-cent nickel and silver coins, and Shield, Liberty and Buffalo nickels. Likewise there were sets of Barber and Mercury dimes, twenty-cent pieces, Barber and Standing Liberty quarters, Barber and Walking Liberty half dollars, Morgan and Peace dollars and commemorative silver. All were in outstanding Mint State or brilliant Proof condition.
Earlier half dimes, dimes, quarters, half dollars and dollars were well represented and were also primarily Mint State of brilliant Proof. Among the earlier dated highlights was a Confederate half dollar. But, even with this vast number of desirable United States silver coins being offered, many of the attendees were interested in the gold coins.
The gold coins began with a choice collection of gold dollars followed by a splendid group of quarter eagles ($2.50 gold) and an outstanding array of $3 gold. Next came both 1879 Flowing Hair and Coiled Hair Stellas, ($4 gold). Half eagles ($5 gold) and eagles ($10 gold) included wonderful selections of early dates and mints. A comprehensive collection of double eagles ($20 gold) included virtually all the rare dates and mints in the series, with a major portion offered in Mint State or brilliant Proof.
Among the private and territorial gold coins could be found exceptionally choice Kellogg & Co. and Wass Molitor round $50 “slugs,” which turned out to be among the most sought after coins in the sale.
With the high quality and rare United States gold, silver and copper coins being offered in Stack’s sale of the J.W. Schmandt Collection, it is no wonder that those who attended the sale fought the storm and weathered great difficulties to get there and participate. This exhibits the dedication serious numismatist bring to having, holding, studying, and enjoying their coins and collections.