In 1981, public auction sales maintained some equilibrium on the market, and for Stack’s the quantity and quality of the sales improved from January to December, indicating how the numismatic hobby was recovering after a tough start to the year.
In January we offered a comprehensive collection of United States gold, silver and copper, consisting of 986 lots with many of the popular early date and Proof items. The attendance was great, sometimes with standing room only, as the collectors vied for some bargains as each lot was sold. Our March auction contained a larger group of consignments, 1,395 lots of United States coins and paper money. We received quite a number of bid sheets and attendance was again good. Many were surprised that the market for Proof and choice Mint State coins was very active and the sale attracted reasonable bids. Confidence seemed to be growing in our bidders.
In May 1981 we once again presented an auction in conjunction with the Metropolitan New York Numismatic Convention, sponsored by nine local coin clubs from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. This was considered to be the most important spring convention held in the Northeast. Stack’s was able to assemble over 1,350 lots for this important sale, including 639 lots of foreign and ancient coins. Contained in the United States portion of the sale were full sets of Shield and Liberty nickels, plus a super set of two-cent pieces and a selection of coins that spanned from the colonial era through the mid 20th century. A wonderful offering of U.S. gold included four different $50 slugs. Bidding was active and, in fact, for the U.S. portion we had to move to a larger room, as the regular ballroom was unable to accommodate the collectors and viewers. I remember being the auctioneer at this sale, and felt that I had to keep very alert and work hard to keep up with the activity. The convention dinner that night was oversold and everyone really enjoyed the event.
For our June sale, Stack’s was able to assemble some 921 lots of United States coins, highlighted by a nice selection of colonial coinage, early U.S. gold that started with $5 and $10 pieces from 1795, plus a goodly number of scarcer dates.
After having two successful years with the "Apostrophe Auctions" we once again offered a joint public auction in July 1981 with Rarcoa, Paramount, and Superior. As before each company was to offer 500 lots, so the total sale would feature 2,000 lots. In this year, Stack’s was fortunate to have consignments that would have exceeded the 500 lot limit. We decided, along with the consignors, that we could take some of the outstanding sets that had been consigned and sell them as sets. We offered the following as sets: two-cent pieces, three-cent silver pieces, Shield nickels, Liberty Head nickels, Buffalo nickels, Mercury dimes, 20-cent pieces, and Peace dollars. We also were able to offer an extensive group of type coins from the half cent to the silver dollar, an almost complete series of Proof silver dollars, 1855 to 1921, and Proof trade dollars from 1873 to 1883. Among the gold coins was a complete set of gold dollars in Mint State or Proof, plus a run of Charlotte gold, a superb offering of early $5 and $10 gold, and an extensive run of double eagles. Our section of Auction ’81 was outstanding, and when combined with the other companies’ offerings, it was a landmark sale. The prices were very strong as the sale attracted a large audience and all the participating dealers received a massive amount of bid sheets. This was another indication that the market was recovering and that collectors who had stuck to foundational numismatics and not given in to speculation, were still very interested in adding to their collections.
Our impressive 1981 auction season continued in September when we were able to offer the collection of Raymond J. Wayman, a valued collector whom we served for decades. The collection was mainly United States gold $10 and $20 pieces along with an outstanding selection of private and territorial coinage. Ray Wayman had an office a few blocks from Stack’s and whenever he had some spare time he would wander over to our shop to see if something new and interesting had arrived. He loved Mint State and Proof coins, and exhibited great patience as he waited for coins of the quality he desired to become available. However, after chasing about to try and buy only those grades, he came to realize that sometimes Extremely Fine or About Uncirculated examples were going to be the best he could get. However, beyond the grade, he bought only pieces that appealed to him; he would study pieces offered in our auctions or retail stock carefully before adding them to his growing collection.
When Ray retired, he decided to sell his coins. His collection started with early eagles, continuing on to the Liberty series starting in 1838, of which he assembled a great representative collection. He also focused on the Indian Head design, and though not complete, he had an outstanding 1907 wire edge with periods. Among double eagles his collection was more complete, with many Mint State coins, rare mintmarks and some Proofs.
He loved the history of private and territorial coinage and finance. He collected examples from the Bechtler family, Norris, Gregg & Norris, the Mormons, Baldwin, Conway, Humbert, Oregon , Moffat, Parsons, Miners Bank, and other assayers. He read books, studied catalogs and enjoyed owning these historic pieces. Though the sale had but 446 lots, it became an important event, as specialist in gold coins made a real effort to attend and compete for the great coins that Ray had assembled.