Kolbe & Fanning Numismatic Booksellers are selling highlights from the exceptional numismatic library formed by well-known collector John W. Adams as part of their 150th auction sale on July 14, 2018.
John W. Adams has become famous over the years for forming important collections of coins and medals and for writing the standard references to a number of different series. He is also the author of the most useful guides ever published on classic American coin auction catalogues. The Adams Library includes one of the finest collections of American numismatic auction catalogues ever assembled.
One volume that stands out is lot 212 in the Kolbe & Fanning sale, an incredible bound compilation from the library of early collector Bauman Lowe Belden that brings together 11 catalogues by 19th-century dealer Ed Frossard. Of these 11 sales, no fewer than four feature photographically printed plates, a rare special feature of early catalogues that today are a hugely important resource for tracing the ownership history of individual coins.
Ed Frossard was one of the more colorful early coin dealers in the United States. He was born in Switzerland, but quickly adopted the United States as his new native land when he immigrated, fighting for the Union in the Civil War only a few years after arriving. He launched his numismatic career as the first editor of the Coin Collector’s Journal, published by J.W. Scott & Co. beginning in 1875. Quickly branching out on his own, he began publishing a regular house organ, Numisma, wrote three books (including the long-standard work on 1794 large cents), and held over 160 auction sales before his death in 1899. Seventeen of his auction catalogues included photographically printed plates, and the Adams Library includes every single one of them.
Early plated sales were usually issued in small quantities, with Frossard publishing between 25 and 100 copies of his illustrated catalogues, so they are very rare today. This particular volume includes four of these rarities, all published in 1884 or 1885 and covering a wide variety of coins. One sale offered Frossard’s own amazing collection of early U.S. large cents and other important coins. Another featured important ancient coins from the collection of R.H. Smith. An 1885 sale highlighted Oriental coins, and is a very rare example of an early U.S. catalogue in this area. Finally, the last plated Frossard sale present is actually his sole plated stamp sale. Handwritten annotations in this copy reveal that the original owner of this bound volume, Bauman Lowe Belden, was the consignor to that sale.
A volume like this neatly demonstrates the versatility of the best of the early American coin dealers. A one-man operation, Frossard had to be able to write a catalogue of large cents, then turn around and professionally describe a collection of ancient Greek coins. He had to have the skills and resources to catalogue Asian and Islamic coins at a time when few books had been written on the subject. Finally, he had to be able to write a stamp catalogue on top of it all. The knowledge required of him would remain impressive today.
This is just one lot from the upcoming John W. Adams Library sale. The extensive, full-color catalogue is available online at bid.numislit.com, where prospective bidders may browse lots and place absentee bids. The July 14 auction will feature live online bidding using Kolbe & Fanning’s custom third-party online bidding platform. Printed catalogues are being mailed to established customers.
Kolbe & Fanning Numismatic Booksellers LLC is a licensed and bonded auction firm in the State of Ohio. For more information, please see the Kolbe & Fanning website at numislit.com or email David Fanning at firstname.lastname@example.org.