By Arnold Miniman, Collector for Stack’s Bowers ……
The Carolina Collection will be featured in the Stack’s Bowers Early American Coins auction session held in conjunction with the Colonial Coin Collectors Club. The session begins Friday evening at 4:00 PM ET, on November 4, 2016, in Room 308. The auction is now online for viewing and bidding. We hope you enjoy this biography of the collector.
I began collecting coins when I was 22 years old. I was attending law school in Washington, D.C. and working part time as a teller at a bank in Silver Spring, Maryland. The other tellers told me to “pull the silver coins, they’re worth more.” I learned that the U.S. Mint had stopped producing silver dimes and quarters after 1964, and had reduced the silver content of half dollars.
I began to notice the different designs on coinage. Back then you could find Franklin halves in circulation as well as the occasional Indian cent, Buffalo nickel, Mercury dime and even a Standing Liberty quarter.
I visited a local coin shop, Bonanza Coins, in Silver Spring, in early 1969. Then it was owned by Al Bonan, who was willing to spend time talking coins with this novice. I bought my first “Red Book” from Al, and became attracted to the classic commemorative series with its diverse designs.
After graduating from law school I returned home to New Jersey, got married, had children, and got involved with the practice of law. Coins were a secondary interest until late November 1992, when I attended a one-day coin show in Parsippany, New Jersey. It was there that I observed, for the first time, coins that had been graded and encapsulated in plastic. Wow, I thought, this is interesting.
At this point I became a serious collector. I went to more coin shows, including the fall and spring expos in Baltimore, and began attending the Stack’s and Bowers & Merena auctions in New York City. My initial collecting interest was classic commemoratives, then U.S. type coins.
In 1994, I read an article in the Newark Star Ledger about a discovery coin, a New Jersey copper that had the initials “W.M.” engraved below the horse head. The initials were apparently that of the coiner, Walter Mould. I learned, for the first time, that three mints had been producing copper coins in New Jersey during the colonial period. They were located in Elizabeth, Rahway and Morristown. I had grown up near Elizabeth and Rahway and was working professionally in Morristown.
By chance, I met John Higgins, the dealer who had discovered the “Mould” coin, at the Garden State coin show that spring. There, he was displaying the discovery coin in a large lucite holder. He gave me some background on the coins of New Jersey, discussed the Maris book on the subject, and directed me to a dealer who was selling 1987 reprints of the book. It became my first colonial purchase.
In June of 1994, I attended the Stack’s Alfred R. Globus sale in New York City. I really had no intention of bidding on any colonial coins at the sale, but lot 239 was a New Jersey copper, M.38-y, in fine condition. The auctioneer was Harvey Stack. The coin opened at $65 and Harvey asked for $70. There was silence. He said: “Won’t anyone bid 70 dollars?” I raised my hand, and bought my first colonial coin.
Over the years I have tried to put together a “Red Book” type set of colonials. I understand that there are people who seek 100 different varieties of New Jersey or Connecticut coppers, but that was not for me. In 1996 I became a member of the Colonial Coin Collectors Club. Through the club I have made many friends and have gained a wealth of knowledge. I have learned to appreciate the provenance of a coin, which sometimes is as important as or even more important than the coin itself.
Twenty-two years have passed and it is time to let go of what I have accumulated. It has been a wonderful journey and I hope the recipients of these treasures will enjoy them as much as I have.