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Harvey Stack – Growing up in a Numismatic Family: The Early Days of Stack’s – 1976

Harvey Stack - Growing up in a Numismatic Family: The Early Days of Stack’s – 1976

By Harvey Stack – Co-Founder, Stack’s Bowers Galleries ……

The Bicentennial

What, you might ask, made the yr 1976 so necessary for our store (apart from the apparent)? Few as we speak find out about all of the varied happenings at Stack’s through the Bicentennial yr.

First of all, I, Harvey, was appointed by Gerald Ford, President of the USA, to function a Governor on the annual Assay Fee held in Philadelphia since 1776. This was a nice honor, for not solely was it our nation’s Bicentennial nevertheless it was additionally the final yr the fee was ever to assemble.

Secondly, we have been half of the trouble to deliver the Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Assortment of United States and World Cash to Philadelphia to be the spotlight Bicentennial exhibit on the new U.S. Mint constructing.

Thirdly, Stack’s was chosen by the American Numismatic Affiliation (ANA) to conduct the public sale at their annual conference, that yr in New York Metropolis (as a result of of the hundreds of thousands of guests to Philadelphia making area in a conference middle or lodge unavailable). The public sale occurred on the new Sheraton Lodge on Broadway, the place the conference was additionally held.

And foruth, Stack’s additionally scheduled a further six public auctions! When you have got the prospect to examine all that we completed in 1976, apart from our traditional shopping for, promoting, assortment constructing and being obtainable for shoppers, you’ll see why it was such a historic yr for us.

We even modified our curiosity in ANA gross sales for a few years to return, however that’s a story for an additional day…

Becoming a member of the U.S. Assay Fee

After receiving the appointment by President Ford to the U.S. Assay Fee I used to be advised when to be on the model-new U.S. Mint in Philadelphia. The constructing wasn’t even completed once we governors arrived in early February 1976 to be welcomed by the Secretary of the Treasury, the Director of the Mint, and the top Coiner and Engraver–in addition to the whole employees. We have been taken to a particular room with totally different items of gear to do our assigned jobs.

Although the use of valuable metals in U.S. coinage was first terminated in 1964 with the dimes and quarters, silver was half of our foreign money till 1967, so the perform of Assay of the Cash struck in 1976 didn’t require an precise assay. Our job entailed opening luggage of cash to rely that they have been appropriately bagged, examine in the event that they have been properly struck, confirm the milling on the sides, weigh samples to see that they conform with the right metals, assessment the minting data made at every of the three department mints, and measure the diameter of every coin examined to make sure that they have been “standard”. Although it seemed to be a comparatively easy operation, many stories needed to be compiled, and every report signed and attested to by the assay governors, which took a quantity of hours to assemble. Every of us was then given a sure copy of our stories, along with further paperwork that we signed.

Throughout our go to, we have been taken onto the mint flooring. We watched how the metallic for use was rolled into strips to the diameter of the coin to be struck. We watched how the strips have been then bathed to provide them again their brilliant shade. We noticed how the planchet slicing machines ready the blanks for hanging, stood subsequent to the coiners who have been watching the planchets being fed into the presses, noticed the strike and impression from the dies, and watched as the brand new cash have been carried from the presses to the counting machines to be bagged. Samples from every bag have been then examined and counted once more in order that the quantity to be issued can be right. Being on the ground subsequent to every mint worker as he did his job was an thrilling facet of the journey.

That night we had a particular dinner in the Mint constructing, and we have been every introduced with a doc (signed by President Gerald Ford) that attested to the work we did, a particular oval silver medal commemorating our work and go to, and a small lapel piece that we got to put on.

General, it was a very memorable expertise that I’ll cherish all the time.

How the Eliasberg Assortment (Virtually) By no means Received to the Mint

True tales, which sound unreal, not often get informed.

The Eliasberg Assortment, which Louis E. Eliasberg and the Mint had agreed to point out through the Bicentennial in Philadelphia, all of a sudden had one thing unbelievable occur to it earlier than it was to be shipped. To guard the gathering, the Mint was to offer two giant armored vans (because the delivery instances have been fairly giant and heavy) to hold the gathering from Baltimore to Philadelphia. Along with the armed guards that experience in the vans, they provided to offer three “chase cars” to paved the way and comply with behind. Earlier than the journey (scheduled for early April), Louis E. Eliasberg, who needed to observe the gathering set up, turned critically ailing and couldn’t go. So he appointed his son Louis, Jr. to go together with the gathering. I used to be requested, and I agreed to be in Philadelphia when it arrived, to assist in setting up the show. It was an honor that we from Stack’s can be half of this unbelievable exhibition through the Bicentennial, and it was to me, a tribute to the truth that my father (Morton Stack) and uncle (Joseph Stack) bought the most important half of this distinctive assortment to Louis Sr., and that’s how most considered it.

Louis Jr, who labored together with his father in displaying the gathering sometimes at main banks in the Baltimore space in years passed by, felt that he had been given a nice duty by his father to do the job proper. Louis Jr. had a Maryland gun allow, and he advised the Mint folks that he needed to journey in one of the vans or “chase cars” and carry his gun with him (what he might do, precisely, nobody understood, particularly with all of the armament that was already in the truck and “chase cars”). Mint officers, nevertheless, stated that he couldn’t carry his gun interstate.


Mint Officers have been surprised. Every little thing had already been organized. And you may in all probability think about the embarrassment that I envisioned. I shortly referred to as Louis Jr. and stated: “We’ve got to solve this problem!”

Louis stated that his father (whom he all the time obeyed) advised him to take care of the gathering, and he “wanted to be sure that it was PROTECTED!” I instantly referred to as the individuals at Treasury who have been half of the unique settlement. I informed them that we have been coping with an insecure son, who all the time adopted his father’s directions to the letter, and we’ve obtained to do one thing to get him to have the ability to carry his gun on the journey.

Nicely, because the Treasury was additionally in cost of the Gun and Firearms Division(!), the senior on the Treasury had a particular license issued in the identify of Louis E. Eliasberg, Jr. so he might carry his personal weapon interstate. The few hours, whereas all of this was completed, have been certainly some of probably the most harrowing in my skilled profession. However Louis Jr. obtained his means. He personally supervised the shifting of the gathering in its particular delivery packing containers, witnessed the doorways being securely locked, and went into one of the “chase cars” together with his gun on his lap!

Nobody was going to sneak the gathering away if Louis, Jr. had something to say about it!

Louis EliasbergI met the convoy on the Mint in Philadelphia and watched as Louis Jr. supervised the shifting of the delivery instances from the vans, by way of the constructing, and up to the particular balcony the place the gathering was to be displayed. He supervised the dozen or present particular metal stands, which appeared like a “Rolodex” besides upright. Louis himself unpacked every body that held the cash, which have been mounted in holders seen from each side. Every stand dealt with from 12 t0 15 frames, so in many instances, every collection could possibly be seen on each side, and in chronological order. It was a type of show that Louis, Sr. had designed for the gathering, so when he confirmed it to guests on the financial institution the place it was on show, the cash might be seen from each side by shifting a body to see both the entrance or the again. It was a intelligent idea. Moreover, lengthy earlier than the Bicentennial, Louis, Sr. had created a booklet information to the gathering – these have been now to be handed out by the Mint.

As soon as all of the frames have been in place on their verticle stands, Louis, Jr. inserted a particular seal on the insertion factors so he might really feel all was secured. It was an adventurous occasion from begin to end; from the time we bought Louis, Sr. on the thought, to getting the Mint to simply accept it (saving the Smithsonian from having to provide again to the Mint the uncommon cash that the Mint had deeded to them over the many years), to getting the “gun permit” and being there when the exhibit was erected.

Tens of millions visited the Mint through the yr’s celebrations, and numismatics turned one of the highlights of the occasion. Sadly, Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. succumbed to his sickness with out ever attending to see it on show and listen to the fantastic feedback about it from the individuals who seen it. I do know that Louis, Jr. photographed the exhibit and Louis noticed the photographs earlier than he handed away.

The Large ANA Sale (Plus Seven Extra)

Stack’s public sale program for 1976 was one of nice pleasure and significance, for not solely did we plan and obtain main consignments for the ANA ANNUAL CONVENTION SALE in the summer time, however we additionally provided seven different main gross sales that yr (4 passed off earlier than the ANA, three after). Engaged on these gross sales, along with operating our regular coin enterprise from our store, took many a night time to organize for, and even weekends have been sacrificed to get all of it executed

The yr progressed as follows.

In February, we opened our public sale season with the well-known TAD Assortment of U.S. Giant Cents an impressive providing of dates and varieties in excessive grades, from 1793 to 1857, and included many die varieties and Proofs (a actual pedigree assortment)–plus a complete assortment of dates and mints from the Half Cent to the $20 gold, a assortment a lot referred to by cataloguers because it was bought.

In March, we provided a choice of cash from the John Work Garrett Assortment and the Johns Hopkins Library, to offer funds for the enlargement of the stated library. Some well-liked rarities and excessive-high quality duplicates graced the catalog and realized document costs and attendance. It was a nice starting for 1976

In April, we had a number of essential consignments of United States gold, silver, and copper cash, which attracted bidders and elevated curiosity in our gross sales.

Stack's 1823 over 22 Quarter DollarIn Might, we provided the well-known Laird Park Assortment of U.S. Colonial Cash, containing many uncommon and selection pedigree items from some of our earlier gross sales, highlighted by a Birch Cent, 4 totally different Continental dollars (together with one in brass), Washington Born Virginia in silver, and lots of specimens from the varied colonies. As well as, the sale contained many sort cash, with mint and Proof examples of most collection.

The American Numismatic Affiliation Conference Sale in August was one of probably the most complete choices of cash bought at an ANA conference in many years. It provided cash from the Massachusetts Historic Society, in addition to the Boston Museum of Wonderful Arts, who bought some of their collections to reinforce their show amenities. Each parts featured cash from the well-known Adams Household of Colonial days, boasting some of the best recognized examples of Colonial Cash; a magnificent providing of U.S. Giant Cents, with many sorts and best recognized; a assortment of U.S. Half Cents with many in Proof; and cash of all denominations from Small Cents to Double Eagles, with once more, many Proofs among the many providing. It additionally featured Proof yr units of cents to the greenback from 1858 to 1915, bought by the yr, plus excellent choices of U.S. Paper Cash and U.S. Patterns (over 140 items).

It additionally featured in depth collections of historic Greek and Roman cash, plus an impressive assortment of gold cash of the world and lots of uncommon silver cash. It was a giant sale, with properly over four,100 tons provided in six periods that have been all properly-attended and closely bid on. Many data have been set for an ANA sale. Actually, the outcomes have been so excellent that he ANA approached us about doing it once more, however their proposal was so outlandish that we declined. Extra on that in a later replace.

In October, we bought the William H. Fenn Assortment of United States Gold, Silver and Copper cash, assembled over many years with numerous members contributing to the gathering.

In November, we joined two “old-time” collections (as they complimented one another) from the Estates of Marion E. Emrick and Harold F. Coffey that provided complete collections of United States gold, silver, and copper, containing 1,627 engaging tons.

In December, we as soon as once more joined collectively a number of “old-time” collections (from the Estates of Marion W. Emerick, Harold Coffey, and Lloyd Cabot Briggs) of Historic and Overseas Gold, Silver and Copper Cash.

After the Sale

After our sale for the ANA was accomplished, a group of sellers gathered in the foyer of the Sheraton Lodge, to debate the success we had with promoting this large group of cash in a single sale throughout an ANA conference. As we sat about, Ed Rochette, Government Director of the ANA and a shut good friend of the pastime and sellers, requested a group of us if we might have a personal speak about future ANA gross sales. He gathered collectively Ed Milas of Rarcoa, the Goldbergs of Superior Coin Firm, Dave Akers of Paramount Coin, Dave Bowers of Bowers and Merena, and myself naturally from Stack’s.

I used to be exhausted after promoting hundreds of tons over the previous few days, however the assembly was essential, so I additionally attended.

Ed defined to us that the ANA was increasing and wanted more room in Colorado Springs, the house base, and that operating a conference is turning into costlier. That there’s solely a lot they will cost the sellers for a bourse desk (as they’ve tons of bills touring to exhibits and dwelling away from house), and that the ANA Board of Governors, after totaling the outcomes that Stack’s had simply seen at their sale, had determined that future public sale bid charges must be elevated.

As I discussed earlier, Stack’s had paid $50,000 (plus an additional $10,000) to get the addition to the library completed for the 1976 sale. The Board needed to cast off the public sale sellers bidding for the sale annually. The minimal that they have been prepared to simply accept was $250,000! We might then bid above that determine if we needed to attempt to get the sale.

If there had been a good place to faint, all of us would have been on the ground.

We defined that, regardless that the market worth of cash have elevated over the previous few years, there was a resistance to the costs, and that they’re leveling off if not taking place. We sellers now had larger bills in conducting auctions, our catalogs have been costlier, we have been mailing many extra catalogs than in earlier years, and that a QUARTER MILLION DOLLARS was excess of any sale was value in the present market. All of us objected to the worth and stated we couldn’t run a sale with out dropping cash.

Ed stated that he felt we might do it. That he was talking for the Board and never himself. He understood that the prices he instructed, plus bills wanted to only put together a catalog and have a sale, have been nice, however because the Board felt that market costs are rising that we auctioneers can be prepared to pay extra to run the sale annually. We informed him we might give it some thought, however initially, he must go to others to get a “paying auctioneer”.

All of us left the assembly, discovered a convention room that wasn’t in use, ordered some drinks and meals, and determined we needed to talk about this because it was such a scary deal to ponder. Throughout this assembly, all of us stated, in alternative ways, that we might simply need to overlook the ANA as a place to run our gross sales. As all of us contemplated the matter, we realized that we might be a part of forces, every get consignments and run a sale with the ANA like what occurred in 1952 when New Netherlands, Merkin, and a few others joined forces and ran the sale.

Then an concept got here to the desk like every of us had the identical thought: Why not run a sale, not in the course of the ANA however a week or so earlier than or after the conference? We thought it will be a nice concept since those that attended the assembly have been the main coin auctioneers on the time. The ANA not having any charge for an public sale earlier than us must attempt to clear up their monetary issues another method. All of us appeared to agree with the thought, with the exception of Dave Bowers. Since Basic Mills owned Bowers and Merena, Dave couldn’t commit himself to hitch in (later we came upon that Basic Mills doesn’t be a part of with anybody).

So 4 corporations made a tentative deal. Stack’s, Paramount, Rarcoa, and Superior would examine the feasibility of making an annual sale altogether. However we knew that if we ran it concurrently with the ANA that they might deny us bourse area through the present, and all of us got here to the present to be on the bourse. So we determined that if we went ahead, we might not bid for the subsequent few ANA auctions and would search a totally different location. This manner we might not compete the primary yr we didn’t bid.

And because the 1979 conference was to happen in Boston, we selected a website in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

I assumed, together with Dave Akers, that we might run it a week earlier than the Boston present. The program can be easy: every firm would collect say 500 tons every, making it a 2,000-lot sale, and every would ship the catalog out to our personal mailing listing. We every would obtain bids for the sale, and we might characterize our mail bidders at every sale in order that we didn’t give away our shoppers and people who would attend the stay session would get to know every of us. The prices of operating the sale can be shared. We might have an early dinner served earlier than every night session; we might use one another’s employees to point out tons; and our prices for operating the sale can be far lower than Stack’s needed to pay for 1976 and much, far lower than a quarter of a million dollars (or extra).

Dave Akers was in for the entire venture, for he additionally knew that Paramount wouldn’t final for greater than a few years. He got here up with the concept if we ran the sale in 1979 we might name it an APOSTROPHE AUCTION, and on the duvet can be the title ‘ AUCTION ’79 and we might all name it our Apostrophe Sale, because the 4 corporations names would additionally seem on the duvet (all the identical measurement). And if we continued after 1979, then we might rotate the order in which the names seem.

So although we have been all drained, we turned energized with a solution to the issue introduced to us earlier that afternoon, a solution that had now grown to be a challenge we might all handle and work at (to not point out reside with).

Now you possibly can see how hectic–in addition to historic–the yr 1976 was to Stack’s and myself and why, in 1979, there appeared the Apostrophe Public sale.

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