By John Kraljevich – Numismatic Consultant, Stack’s Bowers ……
In November 2019, before the world of coin shows and everything else was turned on its ear, the first offering of coins from the E Pluribus Unum Collection was a throwback to the golden days of numismatic auctions.
In a room packed with people, dozens of bidders competed for prizes that had been off the market for a generation or more. It was reminiscent of the pictures you may have seen of the crowd at the 1987 Frederick Taylor sale, shot on film and printed for participants, or the old black-and-white image of the 1912 Earle sale that serves as an endpaper in John W. Adams’ beloved reference on auction catalogs from a far simpler time.
Today’s times are far from simple. Coin shows have been shut down for nearly a year. Auctions have become internet-only affairs, with lot viewing conducted with masked participants, temperature checks, and bottles of Purell.
Unlike the days of Henry Chapman’s 1918 ANA Sale, which was canceled during Philadelphia’s influenza outbreak, the modern era enables auctions to continue, even flourish, in the pandemic era. Millions of Americans work via internet links every day now. Their kids attend school online. And though internet auctions have been around for decades, buying numismatic treasures online is the new normal in a way we couldn’t have expected even a year ago.
The energy of E Pluribus Unum Part 1 electrified those in the room along with the colonial coin market. Fresh material, gathered with knowledge and connoisseurship, proves itself at auction every time. And so too will E Pluribus Unum 2.
The first offering was entirely of one specialty: New Jersey coppers. In a column several years ago, I wrote about the five aspects that make a collection great:
- Pioneering Nature
In the New Jersey copper segment of the E Pluribus Unum Collection, we saw a cabinet with depth, quality, completeness, and a pioneering nature, assembling die states on top of die varieties, oodles of top-grade examples, a shockingly high number of Maris numbers, and a pioneering dedication to research and discovery. In this segment, we see that the E Pluribus Unum Collection meets the fifth requirement: expansiveness.
This cabinet is expansive in a way perhaps just one early American cabinet in a generation is.
There are more runs of state coppers here, including highlights from famous sales, finest knowns, and almost finest knowns – outstanding rarities mixed in with more commonplace material. The Vermonts are impressive. The Connecticuts may not include 300 varieties, but the coins it does include are mind-boggling. Pound for pound, this Connecticut collection may have more CC level coins, more great pedigrees, and more surprises than any I’ve seen. How many cabinets have a variety run of American Plantation tokens? Ford didn’t. How many collected Franco-American jetons by die variety? Or had an impressive run of Washingtoniana from Guide Book types to classic 19th-century rarities?
From Mott tokens to Castorlands to Machin’s Mills to Voce Populis, there wasn’t a series that could be explored more deeply than most collectors would care to that evaded this collector’s deep and probing attention.
A list of highlights would just be an abbreviated inventory. If you have a specialty, you will see coins to add to your collection here — and probably things you never knew existed.
If you don’t have a specialty, there is no better way to catch the bug than to see what interested a dedicated connoisseur with wide-ranging tastes. And if you think your specialized collection is nearing completion, the E Pluribus Unum Collection is here to prove you wrong, showing how much more interesting a collection is that contains varying undertypes, exotic die states, and historic provenances, than one that includes simply one of every variety.
This is not a cookie-cutter collection. It fits this unpredictable and unexpected time. Peruse the selections at your leisure: look, learn, and find inspiration for your next numismatic passion. If the E Pluribus Unum Collection proves anything, it’s that passion for the subject matter is what ultimately makes a collection great.
Fort Mill, SC
In the Year of the Pandemic