The Incredible Collections of Reed Hawn, Part 6

Stack’s 1993 sale of the Reed Hawn Collection had one of most extensive offerings of choice, rare and pedigreed coins gathered by a single numismatist to be sold in that decade. Reed Hawn’s earlier collection also had great rarities and high quality pieces, but in gathering the first collection Reed had increased his skills in grading and finding great eye appeal. Though third-party grading services became prominent in the late 1980s, Reed relied on his own skills and the skills of those who sold to him to determine what was suitable for his collection. His "on the job training," together with examining many specimens available in this period (1973-1993) made him confident that he knew what a coin should look like, including an appreciation of delicate toning, a good strike and a “pristine” surface, not dipped or cleaned. He relied on what he saw and what he learned from collectors and dealers he trusted, and never relied on grading services to tell him what was qualified to be in the Reed Hawn Collection of 1993. The result earned his cabinet the title: "One of the Major Collections Formed in the Later Part of the 20th Century,” a name it can still claim to this very day.

While the collection included some lovely, choice half cents and small cents, like many collectors who want to finish early, he assembled a full set of small cents, 1856-1909, including the rare 1864-L in superb Proof. He also collected a matched Mint State set of Lincoln Head cents, including Matte Proofs for 1909 -1916. Other minor coins included the Proskey-Norweb 1864 Small Motto Red Proof two-cent piece (he never completed this set as he could not find colors to match), three-cent silver pieces in Proof and Mint State, and a set of Shield nickels 1866 to 1883, all in superb Brilliant Proof including the excessively rare 1867 Rays Proof. Reed also had a full set of Liberty Head nickels in glittering Proof, and boasting the exceedingly rare 1913 Liberty Head nickel reportedly from the famed Dr. Joseph J. Buss Collection and handled earlier by such numismatic names as Macalister, Wayte Raymond, Col. E.H.R. Green (who owned five at one time) Eric Newman, B.G. Johnson, F.C.C. Boyd, James Kelly. The coin was one of the highlights of the Reed Hawn Collection.

Reed Hawn’s collection of Buffalo nickels included the early dated Philadelphia coinage 1913 to 1916 in Matte Proof, and one of the finest known of the extremely rare 1918 over 17-D. The balance of the set was in Superb Mint State, sharply struck and surely among the top sets ever assembled. This set attracted bidders and caused great excitement when it crossed the block at the sale. Just the coins mentioned here would have made the Reed Hawn Collection a classic of its day and the collector a legend of his time. However, the silver coins were also among the finest ever assembled, many from old time collections, and curated with care and appreciation while Reed owned them. In the next parts of this story I will tell more about the silver coins and the rest of this important collection.


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