Chance encounter in 1970s leads to Proof 1975-S Roosevelt, No S dime

Guest Commentary from the Sept. 22, 2014, issue of Coin World
By , Special to Coin World
Published : 09/05/14
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Kenneth M. Goldman, president of Kenneth Goldman Inc. of Needham, Mass., has been a rare coin dealer for nearly 50 years and started out attending coin conventions back in 1962. He can be reached by email at: KenGoldman@aol.com.

I have been a coin dealer for over 50 years. I have attended all of the American Numismatic Association conventions since 1968 as well as over 95 percent of all major coin conventions since then. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, I really enjoyed the stories from Abe Kosoff, Art Kagin, Abner Kriesberg, Jerry Cohen and others. To me, they were the “old-timers” who had seen more than us “new kids.” Today, I am one of the “old-timers” and, with the publishing of the recent article on the 1975 Roosevelt, No S dime, I am pleased to share many unpublished details on this coin.

First, back in the 1970s, I attended one of the Metropolitan New York conventions in the Sheraton Hotel in New York City. Business was fine, but one thing stands out in my mind — something that has never been repeated. A local man walked into the show and told me “I have five 1802 half dimes with me for sale.” This seemed nearly impossible so I, along with another dealer — Jim Leeuw — said, “Let’s see them.” Sure enough — he produced five coins that he had bought from Stack’s auctions over the years. They graded, at that time, from Fine down to About Good. All had strong dates and were absolutely genuine. I bought three of them from Jim, including the best one. 

I sold the best one to a doctor on the East Coast. He was a client and I sold him a few other coins over the years going forward. As time went on, I lost contact with him, as happens so often. 

I am a collector of many other items including mechanical musical instruments (getting my start from Dave Bowers) as well as antique slot machines. In the 1980s an auction company was selling a collection of antiques. The owner’s name seemed familiar to me — possibly, it was the same as the man who bought the 1802 half dime. I contacted the auctioneer and asked him to call the consignor and ask if he had a coin collection — with an 1802 half dime. Sure enough, it was the same person, but the coins has been sold about five years earlier.

Again, going forward a few years more, I get a call from a longtime dealer friend whom I have known since the 1960s. He tells me about a longtime client who had a Proof set with a 1975 Roosevelt, No S dime that he bought from Fred Vollmer back in 1980. He asked me on a marketing plan for this coin since one had never been sold before. This was of interest as very few coins listed in the “Red Book” have never sold in public auction. 

I thought auction was the best way to go, with a huge publicity campaign extolling the virtues of this coin. After discussing this with a couple of leading firms (as the owner requested) a mutual decision was made that it would be sold by Stack’s Bowers Galleries — with much of the description being written by my longtime friend Dave Bowers. The August 2011 sale is now history, but some of the unpublished details may be of interest.

In 1978, a lady from California (a Mrs. Castello) contacted Fred Vollmer about a 1975 “S less” Proof set. The old documents that I have show that Vollmer purchased this set from Mrs. Castello shortly after. Again, in January of 1979, Mrs. Castello contacted Mr. Vollmer regarding another set that she had obtained from another collector at that time, after ANACS verified the authenticity of this set. She offered the second set to Mr. Vollmer as well. 

Mrs. Castello also stated, “I realize that my asking price seems exorbitantly high, however I am convinced that this is a rare and scarce error, and I am therefore hesitant in selling this set at a lower price.”

The deal was completed in February of 1979 with a final comment from Mrs. Castello: “I think it would be very interesting and exciting to be a coin dealer.”

Apparently Mr. Vollmer felt that he could pay the exorbitant price for this set, as a deal was made to sell the set to my client on March 5, 1979, less than 30 days after the purchase.

When the set owned by my longtime client was sold in 2011, the results were the talk of the ANA convention with the 1975 Proof set bringing the sum of $349,600. I called the consignor of the set just sold right after the auction — and he was in disbelief. He was extremely pleased with the time and effort that was spent in bringing this to market.

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