In December of 1978, several months after Harold S. Bareford passed away, his family asked us to offer for sale the first part of his famous collection, some 242 outstanding items. I had known Harold since he came home from the Navy during World War II. From the first time I met Harold, I learned that he was trying to get the best that was available, not necessarily trying to finish a series but rather have beautiful and rare coins he could study and admire for their quality.
Harold Bareford was a close friend of the entire Stack family. His office was close to the Stack’s retail store on 46th Street, so on many weekdays he would stop over during his lunch period to visit and chat. Every time he came in he would inquire, "You guys got anything for me to see?" We would, of course, show him our newest acquisitions and give him an "early bird" view of collections we were preparing for sale. He had a wonderful eye for quality, and when he saw something that he thought qualified as "among the best," he would buy it.
He liked early American silver and copper coins, and he would often debate with Dr. Sheldon, another frequent visitor to Stack’s, that some of his coppers were nicer than those shown in Sheldon’s book. After much discussion, sometimes Dr. Sheldon would agree that Harold’s piece was finer or more beautiful and should be at the top of the list! Harold would have these same discussions with other specialists in the various United States coin series. Norman and I loved working with Harold, and enjoyed his appreciation for sharpness and eye appeal. We both learned many new things during Harold’s visits, as we did from many of the experts who visited. They were always willing to teach us and we were very appreciative.
Harold spent time reading catalogs to determine what was "next" on his list. He was always sorry that he was away in military service and missed the time when Stack’s had the Col. E.H.R. Green coins in inventory. However, we sold the $5 and $10 sets to King Farouk. Mr. Bareford was able to eventually acquire some of these pieces – I list some of these below. Members of the Stack family did not attend the 1954 Farouk Sale due to commitments to sell two important collections that year. However, Harold relied on Abe Kosoff who was in Cairo at the sale to confirm the quality of the coins he wanted and bid on them for him.
Harold was a great numismatist and dedicated to the growth of the hobby. He served on many boards of local coin clubs in New York and New Jersey, and was for many years the president and toastmaster at the Greater New York Numismatic Conventions. He left a legacy that will last forever.
A few of Harold Bareford’s gold coins that were featured in our December 1978 auction included: $1 gold: 1855, 1875 Proof. $2.50 gold: 1836 Gem Uncirculated, 1848 CAL, 1875 Brilliant Proof. $5 gold: 1795 Large Eagle, Brilliant Gem Uncirculated, ex Farouk; 1823 Gem Uncirculated, ex 1947 ANA auction, 1874, 1875 Brilliant Proof, both ex. Farouk. $10 gold: 1862 Brilliant Proof, ex Davis Graves; 1933 Gem Uncirculated.
The Bareford Collection is an important pedigree whenever any of his superb coins are sold even now. I know, from the family, that Harold favored Stack’s and left in his will that Stack’s should be the auctioneer when his collection was sold. We will always be grateful for that vote of confidence.
For professional numismatists like me, developing relationships like we had with Harold Bareford, was among the things we were taught by our seniors. We had the privilege of knowing these great numismatists, serving them whenever we could, and learning from them what they knew. Serving clients and building long-term relationships was the best way to have a successful coin dealership and Stack’s was always pleased when our clients chose us when they were ready to bring their collections to auction.