Stacks Bowers Galleries to Auction Selections From The Tanenbaum Collection of Shell Cards

Author: Stack's Bowers Galleries / November 7, 2012

IRVINE, Calif. (November 27, 2012) — Leading rare coin auction house and retailer Stack’s Bowers Galleries will conduct an Internet-only session as part of their New York Americana Sale, featuring Part I of Selections from the Tanenbaum Collection of 1867-1880s Shell Cards, December 28, 2012–January 29, 2013, closing at 3 p.m. Pacific Time.

Beginning in the 1960s, the late Stephen L. Tanenbaum began assembling what became the most important collection of shell cards ever formed. Part I of II will be offered. Each shell card will be illustrated, described, and also given a “B” (for Bowers) reference number from the forthcoming (mid-2013) book by Q. David Bowers, Embossed Shell Cards 1867-1880s.

Following Civil War tokens of 1861 to 1865, shell cards represent the next significant numismatic specialty. Similar to encased postage stamps, they are made of several components. The face of each card displays the representation of a contemporary $20 gold double eagle, Liberty Seated silver dollar, or the motif of a product. In many instances the obverse is a circular hand mirror — an effective way to have recipients of shell cards keep them for a long time. The reverse bears an advertising message, often imprinted on a colorful background, other times embossed in brass. The edges are plain.

From 1876 into the 1880s, several hundred different merchants and others issued these cards for advertising purposes. Until the Bowers book, no extensive compilation of these has ever been made. The Stack’s Bowers Galleries auction presentation will be the most extensive in modern times. Combining quality and rarity, it should attract wide attention from collectors of tokens and medals, as well as those interested in 19th century numismatic Americana.

The Stack’s Bowers Galleries New York Americana Sale will include three days of auction activity covering all aspects of coins, tokens and medals. United States coins will feature the incomparable Cardinal Collection, which includes landmark rarities such as the finest known 1794 silver dollar, the finest known 1792 half disme, a 1793 Wreath cent certified as MS-69 BN (a level not reached by anyother large cent of any year), and more.

“This is one of our finest auctions ever and is wonderfully diverse,” said Chris Napolitano, president of Stack’s Bowers Galleries “I expect the Tanenbaum shell cards will be of keen interest to specialists as no offering like this has been made in the past century.”

Lot viewing will begin Monday, January 21, 2013, at Stack’s Bowers Galleries, New York. Color images and detailed descriptions of all sale items in this collection will be available on Online bidding and pre-auction bids will begin December 28, 2013 on, by email at [email protected] and by phone at 800.458.4646.

About Stack’s Bowers Galleries

Stack’s Bowers Galleries, a division of Fortune 500 Company Spectrum Group International Inc., was launched in January 2011, combining the extraordinary histories of Stack’s, the oldest rare coin auction and retail company in America, with Bowers and Merena Auctions, one of the world’s preeminent auctioneers of rare coins and paper money. The two companies unite to share a combined legacy that spans more than 100 years, and includes the cataloging and sale of many of the most valuable collections to ever cross an auction block — the John J. Ford, Jr. and Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. collections, the Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection, and the Norweb Collection — to name just a few. Topping off this amazing numismatic history is the inclusion of the world record for the highest price ever realized at auction for a rare coin; the legendary 1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle that realized an astounding $7.59 million (sold in partnership with Sotheby’s). The company is headquartered in Irvine, California, with offices in New York, New Hampshire, and Hong Kong. Stack’s Bowers Galleries is the Official Auctioneer for several important numismatic conventions, including the ANA World’s Fair of Money and ANA/PNG Pre-Show, the 2013 ANA National Money Show, and the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Expo in Baltimore, three times yearly. 


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