New Jersey Coppers From

The Sydney F. Martin Collection Part I

The Martin Collection of New Jersey Coppers is one of the finest and most extensive ever formed. With 111 discrete varieties – along with an impressive number of explorations into die states, misstrikes, and undertypes – it surpasses the number of varieties in our E Pluribus Unum Collection sale (110) and moves into second place all time among specialized auctions of New Jerseys by Maris number. Only the 2003 Ford sale offered a larger number.

This is a remarkable achievement for any collector, but it’s perhaps made more impressive by the fact that New Jerseys were not a singular focus for Syd! Syd wrote books about Wood’s Hibernia coins, Rosa Americanas, the St. Patrick coinages, and the coins of the French Colonies of America. He considered Connecticut coppers his most central interest, and of course he assembled other collections of world class quality as well. For this collection to come together the way it did, with so many other balls in the air, is spectacularly impressive.

How Syd assembled this collection is instructive. Many of the highest grade coins came from a single acquisition, the November 2006 purchase of Larry Stack’s colonial collection. Individual rarities and interesting oddballs were acquired in large public auctions like our Americana sales (Steve Tanenbaum’s and Ted Craige’s collections, especially), our Dr. Gordon Shaw sale of 2017, and our 2019 sale of the E Pluribus Unum Collection. Other frontline pieces came from individual dealer acquisitions, trades with other collectors, cherrypicks, and even eBay. He sometimes bid coins to astonishing levels to get pieces he needed, and sometimes got absolute rips. And while he worked his way to 111 varieties with good networking skills and strong relationships, tenacious dedication, and a lot of financial resources, much of what makes this collection so broad and deep was Syd’s sometimes whimsical attraction to all the things that could make a New Jersey copper distinctive. He enjoyed counterstamps. He loved re-engraved Whatsits, assembling the best collection we’ve ever seen. He liked errors and coins with unusual backstories. And while he assembled dozens of Condition Census coins, it’s these things that are perhaps most emblematic of Syd’s approach: explorative, appreciative of the coins as documents, and thoroughly enjoying the thrill of the hunt.

There are lots of highlights here. A spectacular New Jersey Immunis and one of just three known Washington Head New Jerseys lead off. They’re followed by ten Rarity-7 varieties, four of which are No Coulters. Syd’s example of Maris 47 1/2-e, his only Rarity-8, has never been sold at auction before. This collection offers plentiful opportunities for every New Jersey collector, no matter how novice or advanced, to add a piece to their collection.

In fact, that’s one of the charms of the Martin Collection. There are coins here that Syd bought when he was a brand new colonial coin collector that he enjoyed for decades, and there are extremely advanced acquisitions here that he acquired after decades of experience. Whether you align more with Novice Syd or Expert Syd, there are coins that will fit in your cabinet.

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