One of the Greatest Collections of the Twentieth Century

This is the 24th and final beautifully illustrated John J. Ford, Jr. catalog prepared to showcase for auction the last offering from the most important Americana collection ever formed. John J. Ford, Jr. was a student, researcher, collector, and dealer who started acquiring, buying and selling rare coins, currency, medals, tokens and Americana items while in his teens in the 1930s. John had a superb memory and could quote from items he read, coins he saw, and writings to which he contributed. He cataloged with vigor to further his numismatic expertise and always encouraged beginners in the areas of how to collect, what to collect, and how to be a good numismatist.

He started his career as a dealer by visiting coin shops in the New York metropolitan area, going through dealer stocks, quickly recognizing rare and unusual pieces, buying them and then keeping or selling select coins to other dealers and collectors. He was what was called at the time a “vest pocket dealer.” Morton and Joseph Stack recognized his talents in the late 1930s and had John working for them part time for most of the year and full time in the summers. They admired his incredible memory and his rapport with collectors and dealers who visited Stack’s. John impressed the Stack family and worked for Stack’s until mid-1942 when he was drafted into the Army where he served in Military Intelligence. He returned with honors and in 1946 went back to work for Stack’s where he joined Norman, Ben and Harvey, who welcomed him as a teacher and companion.

The relationship between John, Norman and Harvey grew very close. In 1950 John was offered a position with the New Netherlands Coin Co. operated by Charles Wormser, son of the late Moritz Wormser, a prominent numismatist who had served an unprecedented six years as president of the American Numismatic Association. Although regretting losing such a talented individual, Morton and Joseph encouraged him to accept the position as they were training Norman, Ben and Harvey at the time. It was a well deserved opportunity for John in which he flourished. The relationship with the Stack family continued and expanded as John was able to buy and sell for his new company while still keeping Stack’s in the loop on important offerings.

John became friends with Wayte Raymond and F.C.C. Boyd, both dynamic numismatists, whose estates were handled by New Netherlands through John. Both holdings became the source of rare numismatic material sold by New Netherlands and also shared with Stack’s. John got a great deal of information and training from Richard Picker and Ted Craige, superb collectors and dealers in early Americana. Harvey remembers being taught by John about die varieties, early American colonial issues, territorial and pioneer items and the history of broken bank issues. Norman also learned and benefited from his teaching. Sometimes his explanations were long but always loaded with detailed facts. John also helped Q. David Bowers develop his abilities in Americana and numismatic research, areas in which he became very proficient.

John championed many a numismatic debate, doing weeks of research in preparation and then smothering the opposition with facts. He wrote many articles and often lectured at local coin clubs. Larry Stack, my son who joined Stack’s full time in 1973, was an early student and devotee of John. John had such a wealth of knowledge that discussions between Larry and John often lasted for hours. Larry attributes his current expertise to the days spent with John in combination with training by the Stack’s elders.

Because of health reasons, in the 1980s John’s wife, Joan, suggested they move to Arizona where the dry weather would help her lung problems. John meticulously packed all of his collections, wrapped items in special tarnish-proof paper (which he searched out for months before using), and moved with her to Arizona where he lived until his passing in 2005.

The 24 catalogs meticulously prepared by Stack’s and Stack’s Bowers Galleries are a composite of all the wonderful coins, medals and currency that John assembled over 60 years. The Stack family assigned certain of the research and writing to Michael Hodder, a prodigy of John’s, who came to work with Stack’s in the late 1980s. Together with Larry and Harvey (and other team members) they prepared the earlier catalogs which will be forever remembered as essential references. Dave Bowers and Bruce Hagen made numerous contributions for the catalogs and helped make this suite of catalogs on numismatic Americana the most valuable ever produced. And, as I write these words, the John J. Ford Jr. Collection itself has become THE most valuable United States coin collection ever sold, with prices realized from our previous two catalogs pushing the grand total over $59.5 million! And there is still more to come!

John continues to “teach” today as his holdings, expertly described in John J. Ford Jr. fashion, have been presented to numismatists worldwide. Whether a buyer, historian, researcher or catalog aficionado, this series of auction catalogs provides a wealth of information never before assembled. Working with the man, then honoring his collection in a manner in which he would have been proud, has created some of the fondest memories of my career. I sincerely hope that our efforts on John’s behalf have succeeded in “passing the torch,” and that John’s work will be hailed for decades to come.

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