Formed with individual dedication, through the power of relationships, the Henry P. Kendall Foundation Collection is a tangible memorial to American history. The array of Massachusetts silver coins enable us to connect with not only the men and women who initially colonized New England, but their descendants and three generations of immigrants that followed them before the end of the 17th century. Just as Massachusetts Bay changed from wild to worldly in a half century, so too did the coins made over that period of time. From the medieval crudity of the New England NE and Willow Tree coinage to the refined technology that produced the gleaming and modern Small Planchet Pine Trees, the coins of Massachusetts matured alongside the colony where they were manufactured.
The entire timeline of early American history is manifest in the Henry P. Kendall Foundation Collection. It includes a superb group of Sommer Islands coins, struck within months of Bermuda becoming spun off from the Virginia Company that settled Jamestown, as well as the bimetallic advancement of the 1792 Silver Center cent, conceived by the genius of Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson. The collection travels the broad continuum from Maryland’s silver coins of the 17th century depicting a man who thought he might rule as a feudal lord, to the abortive 1792 patterns of Peter Getz featuring a Virginian who didn’t want to be king. This collection was built with an understanding of early American history and a love for the narratives that define it. Beyond that, it was built with a genuine affection for the objects — enjoyment of the worn surfaces of a coin that served its purpose, appreciation for the intricate technical processes behind die failure, and the desirability of a fine provenance.
There are coins here that will set records and will be long remembered, and there are coins that are here precisely because they are typical, even pedestrian. No one will turn to this catalog in 50 years seeking world-class Rosa Americanas; the worn ones here tell their stories perfectly well. The great rarities whose stories can’t be told in their absence, they’re here too: the majestic 1670 15 sols, the amazingly rare New England Elephant token, the beautiful George Clinton copper and the austere Albany Church penny. There haven’t been many auctions that included these rarities, but every one that has is remembered as a classic.
While so many cabinets of numismatic items from the colonial era are telescopically focused, the Henry P. Kendall Foundation Collection has expanded to include some truly superb early American paper. This currency, with a special focus on New England where the collection was built, enables a richer story to be told. Early Massachusetts notes like the issues of 1710, 1714, and 1744 are highlights within the series, but coin collectors should pay special attention to the parchment Three Pence of 1722, a small change note so coin-like in its purpose and aesthetics that it was included in Crosby’s Early Coins of America. The era of the American Revolution and its aftermath are covered well, from high grade specimens of Continental Currency to a variety of notes from Vermont’s pre-statehood days and a very rare 1783 Federal issue signed by David Rittenhouse. Just as the best paintings cover the entire canvas, the Henry P. Kendall Foundation Collection includes rarities from French Canada from 1759, Russian Alaska from the second quarter of the 19th century, and English Florida from the 1770s.
The Collector who assembled this cabinet had an abiding interest in the history of the American South. Like so many historical legacies, that of the South is full of conflict, both within its narrative and our modern understanding of it. The Confederate States of America struck coins from Federal dies to fund their war against the Union; those fascinating pieces are here, in silver and in gold. The Confederates were so bold as to strike their own coins as well, the ultimate ancient sign of sovereignty, and the extraordinarily rare 1861 Confederate half dollar and its cent counterpart are both present. Perhaps as a counterbalance, the Henry P. Kendall Foundation includes three specimens of the historic Army of the James or U.S. Colored Troops medal, conceived by General Benjamin Butler as a recognition of his men, most of them former slaves, who fought their way to a physical destination, the Confederate capital at Richmond and a metaphysical one, their own freedom.
The numismatic highlight of this collection is the finest assemblage of Massachusetts silver coins ever sold at auction. For some readers and potential bidders, the highlight will be in the extensive provenances carried by so many of the Henry P. Kendall Foundation coins, recalling great collections and their dispersals throughout the second half of the 20th century. Acquired at major auctions from the 1960s until the first decade of the 21st century, many of the coins bear provenance names that are familiar to most: Stearns, Park, Garrett, Roper, Lauder, Picker, Norweb, Hain, and Ford. We are proud of our firm’s involvement in so many of those world-class auctions, and we are grateful to the Henry P. Kendall Foundation for allowing us to add this collection’s name to those already in the numismatic firmament.
Fort Mill, SC