By CoinWeek …..
In this exclusive CoinWeek interview, taped at the February 2011 Long Beach Coin Expo, the firm’s inaugural president Chris Napolitano discusses the formation of the new company and how Stack’s Bowers will develop and implement new technology to improve rare coin auctions.
On December 23, 2010, Spectrum Group International, Inc. (SPGZ.PK) announced that Bowers and Merena Auctions had entered into an agreement with Stack’s to combine company operations to form Stack’s Bowers, with a world coin division to be known as Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio.
At the formation of the company, ownership was split with 51% owned by Bowers and Merena Auctions and 49% by Stack’s. At the time of the sale, Stack’s was owned by Charles, Joel, and Harold Anderson. Counted among the firm’s founders were nationally known dealers and auctioneers Q. David Bowers, Harvey G. Stack, and Lawrence R. Stack.
The deal closed in early 2011.
Bowers and Merena Auctions president Chris Napolitano was picked to serve as the president of the new company. In a company press release, Napolitano was quoted as saying:
“I am honored and excited to lead this new venture, which combines two of the leading names in our industry. We consider Stack’s to be the crown jewel of coin auction houses and with this partnership, we have assembled a numismatic team that we believe to be unequaled in the industry. We look forward to continuing and expanding Stack’s auction and retail locations in mid-town Manhattan, which serve not only the greater New York metropolitan area but also the entire east coast.”
David Lisot: Chris, you’ve recently been brought in as the president of the Spectrum Group. Which companies are you going to manage for them?
Chris Napolitano: They brought me to run, basically, the merged auction companies, which were Stack’s and Bowers… and the new name now is Stack’s Bowers Numismatics. I’m also responsible for the retail store on West 57th Street… 123 West 57th Street in New York City [Editor’s note: the store’s location has since moved to 470 Park Avenue. —CoinWeek], which is the oldest retail store in the country. It is over 75 years old, we are now onto the 76th year. The auction room and the auction facilities are across the street… on the other side of the street.
Lisot: Stack’s and Bowers are two of the most well-known names in numismatics. What do you hope to achieve by the combining of these two assets?
Napolitano: They both bring a lot to the table. Q. David Bowers is the most recognizable name in numismatics over the last 50 years. He has had more successful auctions of big name auctions than probably any company in the last 30 years and Stack’s as a company is the oldest, at 75 years, and they’ve had some wonderful collections, including the Ford sale, this last decade. So, I think we are bringing two companies that have had old-time flavor to them and we are trying to bring them more into the twenty-first century.
We are hopefully going to be working on our IT system and trying to update and improve that to make that more user-friendly and easier from our side of the podium and from the other side of the podium.
We also are going to access the old collections that are out there… that these two companies have built, so I think we have a lot to offer and if we put those things in place, we are going to get a lot of collections from those two sources and also the dealer community, who piggy-back a lot of coins in sales, will want to consign to us and I think it will really feed on itself a little bit over the next few years.
Lisot: And what is your auction schedule like? How often do you expect to have a major sale?
Napolitano: Our auction schedule really revolves around our Baltimore Whitman locations – March, June, and November. So, we have those three. We are the official ANA and Pre-ANA Auction for the next three years. So, we have that whole sale together, through that whole week-long, or week-plus long event [Stack’s Bowers Director of Currency Peter Treglia makes a cameo at 2:45. —CW]. We have the Philadelphia show. It is a newer east coast show. It will be the third year they’ve had this, coming up. It is a Whitman Publishing event and they seem to put on really wonderful coin shows. And then we are going to try to bring back the Coin Galleries name that Stack’s had to have more of our accumulations, smaller collections, and that sort of thing that aren’t really appropriate for our mainstream sales.
Last but not least, we have Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio, which is our world organizational auction company. I think between Stack’s, which has probably sold more foreign and world coins over the course of the last 75 years than any American company and we’ve got Ponterio, which is also well-known at this point in time for putting on some wonderful sales. We are bringing both of those names together. So we are really looking forward to that.
Lisot: Chris, I have to ask. You’ve been in coins for a while, what is it like to be President of Stack’s and Bowers at the same time?
Napolitano: Well, it’s… I guess if somebody were to ask me this five years ago, I would have said, ‘I doubt it.’ For a lot reasons. Personally and I didn’t think the two companies at the time would certainly merge. I’ve been doing the wholesale and retail business for 20-plus years, so I know all the players in the industry, which makes it a lot easier. I’ve had great support from Spectrum. They’ve given me the freedom to do pretty much anything I need to do to try to bring both companies together as smooth as we can possibly make it… and to go forward. We have a nice longterm gameplan and I’m here to implement it. And I’m very excited about being able to do that and work with a team and professionals between Stack’s and Bowers that we’ve put together.