Harvey Stack Remembers: Growing up in a Numismatic Family, Part 50

Right after the first of the year, the Bank opened its new building with the R.L. Miles Collection on display. It attracted thousands of visitors for the first 30 days it was open. Another highlight of the exhibit was the display of The Mace of Baltimore, the symbolic Mace given to the governor of the Colony, which indicated he had the royal power from the King of England.

The Mace was stored in a deep vault by the bank which, when on display, came from its deep chamber vault beneath the bank, and was elevated on a stand in a floor to ceiling glass casing so it could be viewed from all sides, and not be touched by anyone. When the exhibit closed each night, it was lowered into the vault below and sealed with all types of security. It was a symbolic item from colonial days, cherished and valued by all. The coins and the Mace complemented each other.

As the exhibit opened and for three days after, I was there to be an "information center" for those who came to view the R.L. Miles coins that were on display. I was asked all types of questions, some very intelligent, others just silly.

Later that year, in October, we offered at public auction the first half of the R.L. Miles Collection. It consisted of virtually a complete set of United States gold coins, 1795 to 1932, comprising some 1,019 lots, to be sold in two sessions. It was among the most extensive offerings, in both quality and examples offered in a single collection during the decades after World War II.

It had a wide range of rarities, carefully selected by Skinny or members of Stack’s who worked closely with him finding the coins he needed. The quality that he desired was not always easy to find. We did our best and he was able to gather many Mint State and Proof coins; others he had to be satisfied with just the slightest wear. It was another "dream collection" that we at Stack’s had the opportunity to help build and then the pleasure of selling at public auction.

For this portion of the sale we rented the Manhattan Skyline Suite at the newly renovated Hotel Park Sheraton, located near Stack’s. It was a large roof-top sales room, which could readily accommodate some 300 buyers. Even so, because of the vastness and scope of the R.L. Miles gold coin collection, the sale had many moments where it was standing room only. The activity was astounding, with most of the successful buyers taking home parts of the collection from the auction

Gold Highlights of the R.L. Miles Collection, October 1968:


GOLD DOLLARS: A virtually complete set featuring many very choice Mint State and Proof coins and including rare C-Mint and D-Mint issues.


QUARTER EAGLES ($2.50 GOLD): An outstanding offering, which included both varieties of 1796, the 1804, and all the early dates to 1807,  as well as the 1848 CAL, 1854-S, and 1875 to list but a few of the rarities.


THREE DOLLAR GOLD: A virtually complete set, (lacking only the unique 1870-S) with superb highlights in both Mint State and Proof, featuring the 1854-D, 1875 and 1876. One of the last coins Skinny had acquired was the 1875 Proof from our Samuel Wolfson sale a few year earlier for which I, as his representative had to pay $16,500, a record for the period. But since he had ordered "Don’t lose it!" I had to go to the limit.


HALF EAGLES ($5 GOLD): The series starts with both varieties of 1795, three different die arrangements of 1797, 1825, 1826, 1830, 1832. 1833, all the C and D mint coins, 1876, 1929, and most dates in between, many in Mint State and Proof.


EAGLES ($10 GOLD): Beginning in 1795 and having all the dates and varieties through 1804, including both varieties of 1798. Also included most of the O and CC mint coins, a superb 1907 Indian Head with Rolled edge, 1920-S, 1930-S and 1933, all in high grades, mostly Mint State or Proof.


DOUBLE EAGLES ($20): Included 1854-O, 1856-O, 1871-CC, 1879-O, 1887, 1920-S, 1921, 1925-D, 1925-S, 1926-D, 1926-S, 1927-S, 1929, 1930-S, 1931, 1931-
D, 1932. These formed a major collection, with many in Mint State or high grade.

The R.L. Miles copper, silver and nickel coins were scheduled to be sold in spring 1969, during the Metropolitan New York Numismatic Convention.

With so much activity with major public auction sales, attending many conventions and shows, building up our foreign gold coin business again, spending hours and days helping the Smithsonian with the Lilly coins, and handling all the daily trade in the store with new and experienced collectors, all of us at Stack’s were very busy and limited our time with our families. But as it was a "family business" they all understood and worked to help out whenever they could. We were growing fast, and everyone wanted to be sure it stayed that way.

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