A marquee collection of ancient and world coins highlights Stack’s
Bowers and Ponterio’s official auction scheduled for the American
Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money.
The Demarete Collection is the main highlight of the auction,
which offers two live sessions of world paper money, ancient coins,
world gold, world crowns and world minor coins, on Aug. 8 and 10.
The Demarete Collection is “one of the most diverse properties we
have had the pleasure of handling in some time, was assembled over the
course of the 1930’s to the 1970’s, by a family of devoted numismatic
scholars,” according to the auction house, which would not identify
the family by name.
The collection was begun in Europe prior to World War II, and when
the Nazi regime spread, the family fled the horrors to the United
States. “Once here, the family began an impressive numismatic career
that included working for several major numismatic firms and as
curators of important numismatic collections,” according to Stack’s
Bowers and Ponterio.
The family chose Stack’s because it formed a very close working
relationship with the Stack family over the years, according to the
Extensive collections of ancient Greek and Roman coins were
formed, and books written on the subject, based on their collection.
Also of interest was a wide range of modern world coins (post 1600),
in generally very high quality
Highlights of Roman and post-1600 world coins from the Demarete
Collection are scattered throughout the auction, which also includes
properties from other unnamed consignments.
As the auction firm notes, the collection builders are known to
the hobby through their authorship and curation, and an affinity for
Ancient Roman highlight
A highlight from the Roman collection is the October to December
A.D. 56 gold aureus of Emperor Nero.
Struck at the Rome Mint, the coin famously features the bust of
Nero and his mother, Agrippina. The coin type was issued shortly after
the death of Agrippina’s husband — emperor Claudius, the adoptive
stepfather to Nero.
The rarity is famous in the annals of ancient coins because of the
soap opera saga that the design recalls: “Some historians believe
Agrippina herself poisoned Claudius in order to set her son up as
emperor,” the auction catalog details. “However, murder seemed to be a
family trait as Nero would have his own mother disposed of some five
Assassinating Agrippina required several attempts, including
poison, a mechanical ceiling in her residence intended to crush her
and a boat with a collapsible bottom intended to drown her at sea,
according to the catalog. Ultimately, though, Nero sent an assassin to
kill her while making it appear as a suicide. Her reported last words
— “smite my womb” — represent a realization that her womb “gave birth
to such an abomination of a son,” the catalog relates.
The coin is listed as Very Fine with “small unobtrusive scrapes on
the center of the reverse”; it has a pre-sale estimate of $5,000 to $7,000.
Post-1600 world coins
Another area of interest for the assemblers of the collection, was
modern world coins (those pieces issued post 1600), and this is the
strongest area of the auction.
Two highlights represent the diversity and rarity among pieces in
An 1821-L gold 80-lira coin issued by King Vittorio Emanuele I in
1821 for the Kingdom of Sardinia is a one-year type. The coin has a
mintage of only 965 pieces and is cataloged as Friedberg-1130 in Gold
Coins of the World by Arthur L. and Ira S. Friedberg.
Graded About Uncirculated 58 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., the
coin has a pre-sale estimate of $20,000 to $25,000.
Another highlight, from the Russian section, is the 1836 “Family
Ruble” silver 1.5-ruble coin.
The famous Russian rarity is an adaptation of an 1828 Bavarian
“Blessings from Heaven” taler, and several slight variations were
created before the design pleased Czar Nicholas I.
This example features the second design, which gave the czarina
(Alexandra Feodorovna, Charlotte of Prussia) a makeover so she
wouldn’t have a double chin and look so much like her mother-in-law.
The circle medallions surrounding the seven children were also
removed from the reverse.
The first pair of dies with this design broke after striking 50
coins, which forced the preparation of new dies (and which ultimately
resulted in an inherently different design from this version).
The example in the Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio auction has “a few
light unobtrusive scratches at the base of” Czar Nicholas’ neck and
“attractive cobalt blue toning.”
Graded Uncirculated Details — Scratches by NGC, it has a pre-sale
estimate of $35,000 to $50,000.
Further selections of the Demarete Collection are slated to be
sold during the firm’s November 2012 Baltimore auction and the 2013
New York International Numismatic Convention sale.
“Once this collection is sold, it will join the ranks of the
greatest collections of world coins offered at auction,” according to
the auction house. ■