IRVINE, Calif. (November 15, 2013) — On Friday evening, November 8, 2013, Stack’s Bowers Galleries auctioned a memorable session of colonial and early American coins. The star consignment was the collection of Massachusetts silver coins formed by David M. Sundman, long-time numismatist and president of Littleton Coin Co.
There were just 18 coins — but what a parade of rarities. These included examples of each of the four designs of Massachusetts Bay Colony silver coins minted beginning in 1652 — the first coins struck in what is now the United States. The types include the first, the undated NE (for New England), followed by the Willow Tree, Oak Tree, and Pine Tree motifs. The coins were the finest of the fine, the rarest of the rare — all Condition Census and some pedigreed back to owners in the 19th century.
“We opened to a packed auction gallery,” noted Christine Karstedt, auctioneer at the sale and executive vice president of the firm. “The large room was standing room only and several deep in the doorway. Not since the sales of the Ford, Bass, Eliasberg, Battle Born, Cardinal and other great ‘name’ sales have I seen such enthusiasm and excitement!”
Asked what contributed to the success of the sale, Q. David Bowers, who gave remarks to the audience before the event commenced, said, “It was a combination of careful research, a scholarly yet enthusiastic presentation to what I consider to be the finest base of advanced clients in the world, and the remarkable quality of the coins. This alignment of the stars, so to speak, made numismatic history.”
Bidding came from all over the room and from countless clients on the Internet. First to cross the block, Lot 4001, was a landmark example of the NE silver shilling, cataloged as Noe-1-A in the standard reference in the series and the plate coin in that book. It is also the plate in the Würtzbach and Salmon references. A measure of the rarity of this variety is the fact that there was no Noe 1-A NE shilling in the Stearns, Garrett, Picker, Hain, Roper, Norweb, Massachusetts Historical Society (1970), or New Netherlands 48th, 59th, and 60th sales. Graded as AU-55 by PCGS, it started at $250,000 and went up and up some more, to a breathtaking $440,625 (including buyer’s fee), setting a new price record. The room broke out in rousing applause.
Next up was a magnificent N-1 1652 Willow Tree shilling, PCGS VF-35, a remarkable grade for a rarity for which Fine-12 would be a memorable example. It is the Noe plate coin and also was featured in the 1914 American Numismatic Society Exhibition. Its pedigree dates back to prior to 1860 in the cradle days of numismatics when it was owned by Jeremiah Colburn of Boston, one of only a handful of numismatic experts in that era. After another round of bidding frenzy it finally found a new home at $282,000, setting yet another price record!
Lot 4003 was next up for sale, displayed on a large screen in the auction gallery and also worldwide via the Internet. The buzz in the room was intense. The object of desire was a an AU-53 (PCGS) 1652 Willow Tree sixpence, the Guide Book, Noe, and Salmon plate coin — a variety usually found in low grade, if at all.
Bidding came from all directions until “Going, going, gone!” at $270,250.
The scene was set, and the Sundman Collection Sale continued to include the more available Oak Tree and Pine Tree coinage, which included:
Oak Tree Shilling. Noe-1.5, Salmon 1-A, W-430. Rarity-3 (Rarity-7 for die state). IN at Left. AU-53 (PCGS). Secure Holder. $16,450.
Oak Tree Shilling. Noe-5, Salmon 3-D, W-470. Rarity-2. IN at Bottom. AU-58+ (PCGS). Secure Holder. $41,125.
Oak Tree Shilling. Noe-9, Salmon 7-Ei, W-500. Rarity-5. IN at Bottom. AU-50 (PCGS). Secure Holder. $35,250.
Oak Tree Sixpence. Noe-22, Salmon 2b-B, W-400. Rarity-5. IN on Obverse. MS-63 (PCGS). Secure Holder. $55,812.50.
Oak Tree Threepence. Noe-23, Salmon 1-A, W-260. Rarity-6. IN on Obverse. AU-58 (PCGS). Secure Holder. $42,593.75
Oak Tree Twopence. Noe-31, Salmon 1-A, W-240. Rarity-4. Small 2. EF-45 (PCGS). Secure Holder. $7,343,75
Pine Tree Shilling. Large Planchet. Noe-1, Salmon 1-A, W-690. Rarity-2. Pellets at Trunk. MS-62 (PCGS). Secure Holder. $49,937.50.
Pine Tree Shilling. Large Planchet. Noe-3, Salmon 3-C, W-710. Rarity-6+. Without Pellets at Trunk. MS-61 (PCGS). Secure Holder. $22,325.00
Pine Tree Shilling. Large Planchet. Noe-10, Salmon 8-Diii, W-750. Rarity-3. Without Pellets at Trunk. AU-55 (PCGS). Secure Holder. $12,337.50
Pine Tree Shilling. Small Planchet. Noe-15, Salmon 1-A, W-830. Rarity-5. EF-45 (PCGS). Secure Holder. $11,750.
Pine Tree Shilling. Small Planchet. Noe-16, Salmon 2-B, W-835. Rarity-2. MS-62 (PCGS). Secure Holder. $32,900.
Pine Tree Shilling. Small Planchet. Noe-22, Salmon 8-B, W-870. Rarity-6. EF-45 (PCGS). Secure Holder. $13,512.50.
Pine Tree Shilling. Small Planchet. Noe-30, Salmon 12-G, W-935. Rarity-3. AU-50 (PCGS). Secure Holder. $9,693.75
Pine Tree Sixpence. Noe-33, Salmon 2-B, W-670. Rarity-3. Pellets at Trunk. AU-50 (PCGS). Secure Holder. $7,637.50.
Pine Tree Threepence. Noe-36, Salmon 2-B, W-640. Rarity-4. Without Pellets. AU-50 (PCGS). Secure Holder. $11,750.
“Prior to the sale, I was a bit nervous — would other collectors like these historical pieces as much as I did?” commented David Sundman. “In the end I did not need to be concerned as the catalog was superbly done, the marketing perfectly executed, the gallery packed with bidders, the Internet active and the prices realized above my expectations! Dave Bowers, Christine Karstedt, and the entire Stack’s Bowers Galleries team did a wonderful job.”
Brian Kendrella, president of Stack’s Bowers Galleries, shared his thoughts: “It was a virtual pantheon of who’s who in American Numismatics in the audience, and those who couldn’t be here were on the Internet or telephone. To me it is the very definition of what a superb presentation of a superb collection should be, and certain to be remembered for a long time.”
Michael Printz, numismatist at Harlan J. Berk, Ltd., bid on behalf of the new owner of many of the key rarities that sold in the never-to-be-forgotten evening. He commented, “I’m very pleased and honored to have been a key figure in an event that included consignor David Sundman, a very good friend of our company president, Harlan J. Berk, and our client who understands the important and incredible historical significance of these coins. The pedigree of the coins include many of the luminaries in United States numismatics.”
Printz continued, “Every young collector sees these pieces at the front of the Red Book but never expects to actually own then. We’re pleased to have purchased these coins through Stack’s Bowers Galleries, with whom we have had a decades-long relationship during our 49 years in business, including many transactions with Q. David Bowers, Harvey Stack and Larry Stack.”
The sale was part of a multi-catalog event held in conjunction with the Whitman Coins & Collectibles Convention in Baltimore, one of a yearly trio of events. It was also the venue for the annual convention of the Colonial Coin Collectors Club (C4). In total the three-day sale, which included U.S. and world coins and paper money, realized nearly $15 million.
Stack’s Bowers Galleries is currently accepting consignments for the February 2014 New York Americana Sale, March 2014 Official Auction of the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Spring Expo, and the April 2014 Hong Kong Auction. For a complete auction and lot-viewing schedule, please visit StacksBowers.com.
About Stack’s Bowers Galleries
Stack’s Bowers Galleries, a division of Fortune 500 Company Spectrum Group International Inc., conducts live, Internet and specialized auctions of rare U.S. and world coins and currency and ancient coins, as well as direct sales through retail and wholesale channels. The company’s 80-year legacy includes the cataloging and sale of many of the most valuable collections to ever cross an auction block — the John J. Ford, Jr. and Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collections, The Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection, The Norweb Collection, and The Cardinal Collection — to name just a few. Topping off this amazing numismatic history is the inclusion of the world record for the highest price ever realized at auction for a rare coin, the 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar graded Specimen-66 (PCGS) that realized over $10 million, part of their sale of the famed Cardinal Collection. The company is headquartered in Irvine, California, with offices in New York, Wolfeboro, Hong Kong, and Paris. Stack’s Bowers Galleries is the Official Auctioneer for several important numismatic conventions, including American Numismatic Association events, the New York International Numismatic Convention, the Professional Numismatists Guild New York Invitational, the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Spring, Summer and Winter Expos, and the Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio April and August Hong Kong Auctions.