J.H. Cline – Did You Know?

Did you know Stack’s Bowers Galleries is offering a select group of coins from the J.H. Cline Collection in our official auction at the ANA World’s Fair of Money?  To learn more about our friend J. H. Cline, continue reading.




    In January 2015 the numismatic world was saddened to learn of the passing of J.H. Cline, who had been part of the numismatic world for over 52 of his 81 years. Known as "Jay the Beard" to some friends and recognized by many others for his signature top hat, Jay was a fixture at countless regional and national conventions.  Cline’s Rare Coins on Salem Avenue in Dayton, Ohio was a meeting place for collectors and dealers to buy, sell, and converse—a "coin club" that was very popular in its day. Jay, his wife Vicki, and some family members then relocated to Palm Harbor, Florida, where he continued his numismatic activities.

While Jay was knowledgeable on just about every aspect of American numismatics, his first love and specialty was Standing Liberty quarters struck from 1916 to 1930.  His book,
Standing Liberty Quarters remains the standard reference on the subject and has gone through four editions.

A list of his numismatic memberships is long and ranges from local clubs to national and regional associations. From 1970 through 2014 he was a familiar figure at American Numismatic Association conventions, save for just two years.  He contributed to many publications including the
Blue Book, Red Book, and
ANA Grading Standards for United States Coins. When asked for help or information, he always stepped forward.

Whenever a notable Standing Liberty quarter made the news, Jay would write about it. When Bowers and Merena Galleries sold the Louis E. Eliasberg quarters at auction in 1997, he wrote concerning the MS-65 1916: "This one was probably purchased by Eliasberg before the breakup of several rolls of 1916s in an estate in the Northeast. I saw one of these rolls in 1953/1954. All were blast white and I believe many were sold by New York dealer Lester Merkin. I purchased my first 1916 from Lester. Presently, it is in an NGC MS-65 FH holder. Interestingly, the 1916 Standing Liberty quarter is the only 20th century coin that the Salomon Brothers and Stack’s put into a portfolio that compared coins with other investments. Incidentally, this investment comparison ended in 1991."

Jay’s life was a Horatio Alger story personified. He was born in Richlands, Virginia, one of eight children in a coal miner’s family of modest means. At an early age he learned the value of hard work combined with diligence and education.. After completing his secondary education he moved to Ohio "with a new pair of shoes and eleven dollars in my pocket," per his own telling. He lived with his brother while gaining a foothold, married, and worked hard to provide for his family. Rare coins were a passion, and on weekends he traveled to attend coin shows. Cline’s Rare Coins opened in 1964 and was popular from the outset.

In 1981 he married for the second time. Seeking a helper for the business he advertised for "a gal Friday." That gal turned out to be Vicki.  Their combined family consisted of five children and ten grandchildren. She was introduced to numismatics, caught on quickly, and became a buyer and salesperson. She reluctantly retired in 2018 after 40 years in the business.

Vicki has consigned some of Jay’s personal favorite numismatic items to our World’s Fair of Money auction.  Particularly notable is a 1916 quarter accompanied with a letter from its designer, Hermon A. MacNeil.

As to Jay, all of us in the numismatic world are richer for his having come our way.

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