The Incredible Collections of Reed Hawn, Part 5

Twenty years later Reed Hawn, who had gained fame as a collector as a result of his major auction sale of 1973, brought to Stack’s his newly formed collection of rare coins to sell at public auction. This sale took place in New York at the Park Central Hotel, where Stack’s held many public auctions. The sale dates were October 13 and 14, 1993. Many recalled our earlier sale of Reed Hawn’s items and were anxious to learn what he had accomplished in the ensuing two decades. No one was disappointed and the sale was a landmark sale of the latter part of the 20th century.

 As discussed in the description of his earlier collection, Reed was an enthusiastic collector, even in his teenage years, and was seriously pursuing rare coins almost from the first day he started. He began with searching for Lincoln cents from circulation, always replacing poorer examples with better quality when he found it. His father, Bill Hawn, encouraged him by giving him a goloid metric dollar as a present! Reed went out in the 1960s and bought several rolls of Mint State cents, (accumulating rolls was the craze of the period). He selected the best he could find and these could be found in his 1973 and 1993 collections.

His family traveled extensively and in the early 1960s he asked his parents to take him to New York, as he wanted to visit Stack’s. It was during that visit that he became friends with Ben, Norman and Harvey Stack. Harvey treasures their friendship to this day, and when Larry joined the firm he too developed a friendship with Mr. Hawn.

At this time, Reed promised the Stack family that if they would help him build an important collection that the firm would have the opportunity to offer it for sale. He kept his word, and the first sale was presented in 1973. It was widely acclaimed to be the "sale of the year" and the results were very rewarding and satisfying to Reed. As related earlier, when the sale was completed, Reed approached the Stacks, expressed his great appreciation and informed them that he was going to try to outdo himself by starting over and building a more exciting collection.

 The pride that Reed Hawn has experienced in assembling his collections of coins has been witnessed by the Stack family for the decades we have served the collector and the collection. Studying coins, finding them, acquiring them, and enjoying their ownership is what makes a collector a numismatist. Often a goal is reached, and for that or other personal reasons the decision is made to sell. Then, a numismatist wants to pass on the pleasure of ownership to someone who will experience the same excitement and satisfaction. Some of the collectors we have served stayed within the same series they first assembled. Others, after selling, chose a new specialty such as die varieties or coinage of a time period or area of interest, such as Ancients, coins of Europe, South America or Asia or coins of colonial America.

 In Reed Hawn’s 1973 collection, the highlight was his assemblage of U.S. half dollars, from 1794 to 1889. He owned many finest known examples as well as most of the great rarities.

In building his later collection Reed Hawn actually outshone his first efforts by finding rarities, pedigrees and best knowns. He would say that he was learning what the famous assembled before him, what quality and rarity they sought. Reed always said his close relation to Stack’s and studying the numerous catalogs they issued, along with those issued by other coin auctioneers, taught him how to build a better collection the second time around.

One of the first great rarities that he bought was the famous Type 1 1804 silver dollar. It happened just around the time he restarted collecting after his sale in 1973. He was talking to my cousin Ben on the phone and asked: "Do you have any rarities for me today?" Ben responded, " We just happen to have the Mickley 1804 Type 1 silver dollar!" Ben heard Reed take a deep breath and then he asked "How Much?" Ben told him. Again there was a deep breath from Reed, after which he said, "I will take it!" After that transaction was completed, Reed told us: "When I call the Stack family, I have to be careful what I ask for, as they often have a great rarity for sale. I had to have the 1804 dollar, as it was going to be the pride of my growing collection."

Now that I have given you some background on Reed Hawn’s second collection, in the next installments in this series I will describe some of the many highlights that made this collection such an important sale for Stack’s and for all the collectors who were lucky enough to be buying coins when this auction was held. It will demonstrate what a fine collection a numismatist can build by working with a dealer like Stack’s Bowers.


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