The year 1990 was one of renewed growth in the numismatic market. After the quick but major drop in the stock market in October 1987, it took until late 1989 into early 1990 for the market to regain what it had lost. Most businesses had been negatively affected and some had failed altogether. Some banks had failed, and many industrial stocks had difficulty surviving. However certain assets held their value or lost just a fraction of it. These were the tangible markets, such as precious metals, including jewelry. In a similar way the numismatic hobby was less affected than other businesses. It seemed those who had built collections, such as series of early federal issues and rare and unusual coins held on to their collections as a store of value, as well as a pastime they enjoyed and items they took pride in owning.
Assisting in this stability were the efforts that had been taken by the ANA and others to establish grading standards and increase accuracy by using a numerical grading system. While there were differences of opinion about this in the professional dealer community, it did make things clearer for those entering the hobby. Likewise, the establishment of PCGS and NGC in the second half of the 1980s provided a greater level of confidence to collectors that they were getting the product they were paying for. This confidence meant more and more people entered numismatics, which was good for everyone.
Stack’s continued to provide wide ranging numismatic services, both in the New York store and through auctions and conventions. However, the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the next decade had some challenges to the Stack family and the business. I and my cousin, Norman, both were diagnosed with cancer (me with lymphoma and Norman with prostate cancer). This meant that we were not able to work as much as we had in the past, either in the store or on the road. We did stay involved, and I continued to work as much as I could. Norman continued to catalog from his house in Long Island, which was only a few blocks from my home and that of my son, Larry. We would drop things off in the evening and pick up what he had completed. Our staff provided wonderful support, often working into the night and on weekends so we could continue to grow and maintain our position in the hobby. The teamwork was exceptional and highly appreciated.
After more than 50 years in the business, Stack’s was well established and maintained a client base of both buyers and sellers, as well as good support for our auctions. Stack’s received enough consignments and collections to maintain our active public auction program and the market prices seemed advantageous to the sellers. Even with the challenges that the firm faced at this time, we were pleased to be able to present 11 separate auction catalogs that featured a number of prestigious collections and important pedigree coins. We opened the year with another offering from the important James A. Stack, Sr. Collection and the sales would continue throughout the year and include our 55th Anniversary Sale in October. In my next article I will give more details on the important events that made up our 1990 auction season.