Pre-WWII collection of Elmer and Shirley Pierce contains gold, silver & other rarities
By Morphy Auctions….
On Saturday, October 31, Morphy’s will present at auction one of the great, old, privately-held assemblages of American coins: the Elmer and Shirley Pierce collection. All coins entered in the auction will be offered without reserve.
The nucleus of the Pierce coin, currency and bank note collection was formed in the 1930s and ’40s, somewhere between the cantaloupes and corn at a produce market in Reading, Pennsylvania. That’s where young Elmer, whose grandparents had a stand there, would dig through the mountains of change they took in, picking out the Indian Head pennies and Liberty Head “V” nickels. Later, when Elmer got his own paper route, he continued the habit, routinely sifting through the change he collected from his customers.
While in his mid-teens, Elmer added a new specialty to his coin collection: American half-cents, the type first minted in 1794. He amassed an extensive collection of the rare coins, with sub-collections organized by year and type of design.
After serving in the US Army, Elmer joined the W.W. Moyer textile mill in Ephrata, Pa. One of his co-workers was Shirley Hess, whom he had known since grade school. When they married, Elmer gained not only a wonderful wife in Shirley, but also a supportive partner in the coin-collecting hobby.
It was Elmer who did most of the coin buying, Shirley said. “He knew all of the other collectors and belonged to several local coin clubs – the Red Rose Coin Club in Lancaster, Reading Coin Club, and Cloister Coin Club in Ephrata. He was also a member of the ANA and was proud of his 50-year membership pin,” she said.
Elmer learned about the auction process while a cataloger for his brother-in-law’s company, Dale Putt Coin Auctions of Akron, PA. “He always made sure he had a coin to give to youngsters who attended the auctions,” Shirley said.
Elmer was also a keen collector of Lancaster County (PA.) bank notes.
“They came in sheets that would be cut, then hand-signed by the bank president,” Shirley explained. “Elmer would collect them by signature and town.”
Among his favorites were the notes from the two Ephrata banks and the bank in nearby Lincoln, where the Pierces lived.
Elmer Pierce passed away in 2012, and his only regret, Shirley said, was that the younger generation would never have a chance to start collecting coins the same way he did.
“There are no silver coins, now,” she said.
On October 31, 2015, coin enthusiasts of all ages will have the extraordinary opportunity to bid on rarities from the Pierce collection. One of the top entries is Lot 658, an 1852 $20 gold Liberty Double Eagle, which is estimated at US$3,000-$4,000.
Another beauty from the same decade is Lot 596, an 1855 $3 gold coin with the image of Lady Liberty wearing a plumed crown. Estimate: $3,000-$4,000.
In the silver category, Lot 400, a 1796 Draped Bust Small Silver Eagle Dollar in F+ condition is expected to reach $3,000-$3,600; while Lot 401, a VF-condition 13-star Draped Bust Small Silver Eagle Silver Dollar minted in 1798 carries a $2,000-$2,500 estimate.
In terms of appreciation, one-cent coins could turn out to be pennies from heaven at the October 31 auction.
Lot 70, a graded MS-64 RD 1909 S VDB Cent is catalogued with a $2,000-$2,400 estimate.
A postwar anomaly, Lot 95 is a 1955 DDO MS-60 penny, and could attract a winning bid in the $1,600-$1,900 range.
“Morphy Auctions is honored to have been chosen to handle the sale of such a prestigious collection. The Elmer and Shirley Pierce collection comes from our own home county and has deep local roots,” said Morphy Auctions founder and president Dan Morphy. “We know bidders are going be excited over the opportunity to vie for coins that were acquired and held privately for such a long period of time by two very astute collectors.”
The auction of the Elmer and Shirley Pierce coin collection will be held on Saturday, October 31, 2015 at Morphy’s gallery in Denver (Lancaster County), PA. Start time is 9 a.m. Eastern Time. Preview from 9 a.m. till 4 p.m., seven days a week; or from 8-9 a.m. on auction day. Morphy Auctions is located at 2000 N. Reading Rd., Denver, PA 17517.
All forms of bidding will be available, including phone, absentee and live online through Morphy Live.