When I entered Room 304 of the Baltimore Convention Center on
Friday, November 8, there was standing room only and a true sense of
excitement. Like everyone assembled there, I awaited the historic sale
of some of the first coins struck in what would become the United States.
Unlike everyone else in the room, it was my personal collection on
the auction block! Session Five of the Stack’s Bowers Galleries
auction marked a dramatic next step in a collecting adventure that
began 10 years earlier.
Starting in 2004, I began to gradually and thoughtfully assemble a
type collection of Massachusetts Bay Colony silver coins — struck from
1652 to 1683 — featuring the famous New England, Willow Tree, Oak Tree
and Pine Tree motifs. These were the legendary coins listed in the
very front of the “Red Book” — images of coins I’d been familiar with
since my grade school days in the 1950s, growing up in our little
family stamp and coin business. However, in the ’50s I collected
Lincoln cents, “Buffalo nickels” and “Mercury” dimes in blue folders.
The coins in the front of the Red Book were dream coins.
Over the years, I derived great pleasure from putting my
Massachusetts silver collection together and researching the varieties
and collectors who’d owned the coins in years past.
This summer, after much deliberation, I decided that in order to
pursue other collecting interests, it was time to let these coins go
to new homes. The fall Baltimore Stack’s Bowers auction would take
place in conjunction with the Colonial Coin Collectors Club
convention. My fellow C4 members are all fans of Massachusetts Bay
Colonial silver; there could not be a better venue. So I consigned 18
of the 19 coins to Stack’s Bowers for the Whitman Baltimore Expo sale.
At Dave Bowers’ thoughtful suggestion, I kept one of my two Noe 1 Pine
Tree shillings, as a fond remembrance of the larger collection.
Walking into Room 304 brought back memories of a similar big day
in my collecting history. In October 2005, I bid on the rare 1652
(undated) New England shilling, variety Noe-1-A, at an auction session
of the John J. Ford Jr. Collection. Though the elapsed time of bidding
for the coin was probably less than two minutes in 2005, it seemed
like an eternity. When the hammer fell at $220,000, I had spent
approximately $253,000 with the buyer’s fee — about nine times what
I’d spent on my first house!
Now I was on the other side of the fence as the seller. I worried
about my decision to sell. Would my coins be received favorably by
collectors? Would they like them as much as I had?
The session began with an opening bid of $250,000 for my prized
New England shilling, followed by an unnerving silence I soon learned
to accept. In these days of Internet bidding, online and telephone
bids take awhile for completion. When the hammer finally came down,
the NE shilling had set a record price of $440,650 including the
buyer’s fee. I could finally exhale! Thanks to enthusiastic bidding
and the expertise of Stack’s Bowers, the auction total for the
collection exceeded my expectations. It was an exciting sale!
Being the temporary caretaker of such important historical
artifacts was a wonderful experience and I am thrilled the coins will
soon be in new homes with appreciative owners. I am eager to put some
renewed energy toward my other treasured and varied collections. I am
still avidly collecting U.S. colonials, and I even bid on a few of
them at the auction last Friday! Despite my nervous anticipation of
the event, it was a memorable night!
To read David Sundman’s full story of the acquisition, ownership
and sale of his Massachusetts silver coin collection, visit www.LittletonCoin.com/MassSilver.
David Sundman is president of Littleton Coin Co. in Littleton, N.H.