Roland Auctions NY: The Estate of Dr. Alan York Numismatic Collection Auction, Part II


Highlights On View At Roland Auctions NY April 21, 22 and 25

By Roland Auctions NY …..

Roland Auctions NY is proud to present its second numismatic auction from the estate of nationally-renowned and esteemed collector Dr. Alan York.

This sale’s vast historical holdings tell the story of Western Europe and the Americas from the 18th century through mankind’s first steps on the moon. Medallic, Coin and Paper Money specimens offered throughout the April 26 sale span the American Revolution, the U.S. and U.S.S.R. Space Race, Historic International Medals (including 19th-century Brazil), Anti-Slavery Medals, Long Island Paper Currency, and more!

Two themes already generating interest in this 304-lot auction are the U.S. & U.S.S.R. Space Race medals and an international group of early 19th-century Anti-Slavery specimens.

NASA commemorative medals represented in this auction begin with 1958’s Explorer I project, which successfully launched America’s first earth satellite, and continue through nearly all the following Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo flights – culminating in several lots dedicated to 1969’s Apollo XI Moon landing!

Soviet Union space exploration medals initiate with memorial issues recognizing Konstantin Tsiokovsky, the early Russian-Soviet rocket scientist and pioneer of Astronautic Theory. Later Cold War commemorative medals span the unmanned launches of Sputnik I and Luna I and continue through various manned Vostok and Soyuz missions. Featured Cosmonauts include Vladimir Komarov, Yuri Gagarin, and Valentina Tereshkova.

The early 19th-century Anti-Slavery Movement was of special interest to Dr. York and selections from his unparalleled collection will conclude Tuesday’s auction. After inspecting Dr. York’s Anti-Slavery holdings, acclaimed numismatic expert and author David T. Alexander exclaimed: “I’ve been a leading cataloger since the 1970s and I’ve never seen as complete and definitive a collection [as this] offered by any firm at any time!” Continuing, Mr. Alexander very enthusiastically declared, “This collection is a marvel…there are items in this collection that have not been seen for decades. The sheer variety offers opportunities that will probably not reoccur in the foreseeable future!”

roland2The Dr. Alan York Numismatic Collection Auction: Part II is a small portion of a much larger curated historical archive assembled over the course of more than a half century. As a whole, this “mega-collection” chronicles nearly all the notable events and moments from the United States’ nascent beginnings to the powerful nation of the present day. Other substantial holdings to be sold exclusively by Roland Auctions NY throughout the Spring and Summer of 2016 include:

  • Historic Americana
  • Presidential Campaign Ephemera
  • The Temperance Movement
  • International Philately
  • The British Anti-Slavery Movement
  • The Civil War
  • Abraham Lincoln’s Assassination
  • The Suffragette Movement
  • Long Island History
  • World Wars I and II
  • John F. Kennedy’s Assassination
  • The Vietnam War
  • The Civil Rights Movement
  • The Cold War
  • The Space Race and much more!

Although Alan York (1925 – 2014) enjoyed a successful career as an optometrist, it was his avocation as a collector that at times rivaled and surpassed his “official” profession. A lifelong passion for learning and sharing knowledge was the essential engine behind Dr. York’s thoughtfully assembled collections.

Beginning as a young boy, encouraged by his father, Alan York became enthralled with philately (the collection and study of postage stamps). During a recent interview with Dr. York’s daughter, Barbara York of East Hampton, she recounted, “My father’s initial interest in stamps was the catalyst from which the other collections sprung. Through stamp collecting he deepened his knowledge of history, geography, and current affairs…”

Growing up in Brooklyn during the Great Depression with limited means, young Alan York worked determinedly to put himself through the Illinois College of Optometry. Upon being drafted into military service during World War II, and recognizing his abilities as a born educator, the U.S. Army assigned Dr. York the task of teaching illiterate G.I.s to read prior to their deployments across the globe. The personal contact and participation in bringing literacy to untold numbers of his struggling peers appealed strongly to Alan’s compassionate nature.

After the war, it was this experience that served as the impetus for additional studies at N.Y.U., where he earned a Master’s Degree in Education. While at N.Y.U. he met and later married fellow student Claire Fisher. Together the newlywed couple taught remedial reading, with Claire going on to an impressive career as an educator on Eastern Long Island.

After settling in East Hampton, N.Y., the York family expanded with the addition of a son, Steven, and daughter Barbara.

The 1950’s and 60’s saw a rapid intensification and expansion of Dr. York’s collecting practices.

Always a devoted husband and father, Alan would often include the entire family on his buying expeditions both domestically and abroad. Explaining her parents’ dynamic, Barbara York recalled that her mother held great respect for Alan’s collecting and often accompanied him to various national conventions. At home, Dr. York would jokingly exclaim “This (collecting) is my horses, my booze, and my women!”

While a teenager, Barbara benefited from her father’s encouragement as they began to collect 19th-century fashion plates together. When traveling through Europe as a family, Ms. York recalled there would always be “adventures” with oddball dealers and sellers taking them down side streets to off-the-beaten-track shops and bazaars where everyone knew her father by name.

At home on Eastern Long Island, fellow collectors were frequent guests at the York house, as were noteworthy locals such as artists Jackson Pollock and Willem De Kooning. As the result of Dr. York frequently asking, “Why doesn’t anyone write main characters based on optometrists?”, longtime friend and novelist Kurt Vonnegut obliged by giving his Slaughterhouse Five protagonist Billy Pilgrim just that occupation!

We present Tuesday’s sale (catalogue available online at confident that it will be studied to the delight and satisfaction of Medallic, Coin, and Paper Money collectors alike. It contains an outstanding array of fresh-to-market material and features many museum-quality specimens. This important auction provides a small cross-section of just a few of Dr. York’s many collections.

In the coming months, Roland Auctions NY will continue to bring evermore of Dr. York’s massive estate to auction via multiple specialty sales. Upcoming auctions will include: American Reconstruction Era through Modern Presidential Campaign Ephemera, International Philately, an all-inclusive Americana archive, and additional Numismatic selections.

Real-time online bidding will be provided by In anticipation of Tuesday’s sale, Roland Auctions NY will be open to the general public for a three-day preview Thursday and Friday, April 21 and 22, from 10 am until 7 pm both days, with a last chance viewing on Monday, April 25, also from 10 am to 7 pm.

Tuesday is certain to be a busy day at Roland Auctions NY. This truly outstanding sale can be viewed online at

80 East 11th Street
New York, New York 10003

Phone: (212) 260-2000



Tuesday, April 26, 2016 at 11:00 AM EST


Thursday, April 21, 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM EST

Friday, April 22, 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM EST

Monday, April 25, 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM EST


Roland Auctions NY is the Greenwich Village auction gallery owned and operated by Bill and Robert Roland. Proud to announce its fifth year, Roland’s team of specialists brings a combined century of appraisal skills to all consignments, from individual items to large estates nationwide. Roland Auctions NY was the exclusive auction gallery for the estates of: Broadway producer and writer Arthur Laurents, Palm Beach philanthropist and socialite Dame Celia Lipton Farris, folk-artist/outsider metal sculptor Charles Lamb, Leon Fischer’s important collection of James Ensor Paintings, and the U.S. Presidential Campaign Ephemera Collection of Dr. Alan York.

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