During the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Winter Expo last week we hosted two auction sessions showcasing selections from the Sydney F. Martin Collection. It was said that the series featured in these sessions ranked high on the list of Syd’s numismatic passions, as did his fellow enthusiasts in the Colonial Coin Collectors Club (C4). Thus, last week’s auction venue for Part II of Syd’s collection gave us the perfect opportunity to honor our friend and colleague.
The sale itself saw spirited bidding which resulted in numerous price records. The unique 1670-A French Colonies copper double de l’Amerique, the earliest dated coin bearing the word “America,” realized an astounding $504,000 – the highest price ever paid for a French Colonial coin. The expansive Rosa Americana offering generated considerable excitement, highlighted by the 1717 Pre-Patent twopence that realized $28,800 – a record for a Pre-Patent Rosa Americana coin – and the famous 1733 twopence Pattern PCGS PR-62 BN that sold for $57,600. The eagerly anticipated 1785 and 1786 Connecticut coppers set many new high-water marks for that series, such as $43,200 for the unique 1785 Miller 6.6-A.3 die variety. Other notable prices realized included those for high-end type coins such as the 1786 Miller 5.3-N Hercules Head PCGS AU-55 at $22,200 and the 1786 Miller 6-K Draped Bust Left PCGS AU-55 at $26,400.
The second session offered a fabulous array of Washingtoniana and there was intense demand for the finest and rarest pieces. Prices realized for Washington Seasons medals reached new heights with the silver versions of The Shepherd and The Home medals realizing $114,000 and $132,000 respectively. The rare Roman Head cent in PCGS Proof-64 RB brought $132,000 and the Funeral Urn medal in gold, PCGS AU-55, realized $66,000.
On Friday, October 28, after the hammer fell on the final lot of the day, we gathered with the C4 group, and some friends and family to share stories about Syd, acknowledge his accomplishments in the colonial coin field and express appreciation for his many contributions to the hobby. C4 created the Sydney F. Martin Memorial Numismatic Publication Award to recognize writers for their contributions to the field of colonial and early American coinage. A medal was created with Syd’s image to be presented to the recipients. Craig MacDonald, president of C4, presented to Syd’s family, represented at the event by his daughter Jessica, their personal medal.
John Kraljevich led the evening with a discussion about Syd’s collections and included a very pertinent quote from Daniel Eccleston to Thomas Jefferson from January 1, 1810: “Those Medals, in all probability, many generations hence, will be preserved in the cabinets of the Vertuosi, when you and I are mouldering in the dust.”
It’s quite remarkable that we can still touch history in a very up close and personal way through the hobby of numismatics. Here’s to Syd, a shining light whose literary works will continue to educate and spark the collecting fires in future generations.