Harvey Stack Remembers: Growing up in a Numismatic Family, Part 90

As we came to the last few months of 1983, Stack’s continued to present important public auction sales. Our October sale featured the collection of Dr. Jerome S. Coles, (known as Jerry to his close friends and the Stack family). Jerry was a noted surgeon, who left his practice in 1946 to join the Philip H . Hunt Chemical Co. By 1950 he was the C E O of the corporation, one of the largest photographic chemical manufacturers, serving processing companies worldwide. Later Dr. Coles was Chairman of the Board of New York University Medical Center in New York, for decades.

Dr. Coles started collecting U.S. gold coins in the early 1960s, guided by the gold section of Norman Stack’s book Type Coins of the United States. As he progressed with his collection, he became enamored with the early gold coins issued from 1795 to 1834, and acquired many from us, both over the counter and in our auction sales. As catalogs that also featured territorial gold crossed his desk, he became interested in that specialty. He high quality collection of one of each issue made by private firms was nearly complete. Jerry attended most of the important auction sales we conducted, and bid enthusiastically to acquire the coins he desired.

Among U.S. gold coins, there was nearly a full set of gold dollars. For quarter eagles it included both varieties of 1796, 1797, 1798, 1806/5, 1808, and 1848 CAL. Three dollar gold pieces were highlighted by an 1854-D and an 1879 Flowing Hair Stella was also included. An extraordinary group of half eagles included 1795, 1796, 1797, 1798, and 1813. Eagles included pieces from 1795 through 1804 while double eagles contained a basic type collection that featured the 1861-S Paquet reverse.

The unforgettable highlight of the Coles Collection was the remarkable, virtually complete offering of pioneer and territorial gold coins. It began with 21 different Bechtler coins and continued on to include 10 different California gold "slugs" plus many lower denomination coins of the U.S. Assay Office and Augustus Humbert. Also featured from California were Baldwin, Kellogg & Co., Miners Bank, Moffat & Co. Norris, Gregg & Norris, and Pacific Co. Mormon coins from Utah were included along with Oregon pieces, Parson & Co., and from Colorado coins made by Parson & Co., Clark, Gruber and Conway & Co.

The Coles Collection offering of territorial gold was a history making event. Although a number of important cabinets featuring this specialty had been offered during the 1960s and later, none were as complete as this incredible offering, and it remains one of the most extensive and representative such offerings of all time.

To close out 1983, Stack’s was thrilled to be offering another such history making event, this time featuring colonial and early American coins. Next time I will discuss our landmark offering of the John L. Roper Collection that took place in December of that year.

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