The following is the second of a three-part Coin
World series about collecting obsolete notes following the
tenacious yet patient approach exhibited by the late Peter Mayer,
prepared by Michele Orzano for the February 2015 monthly edition
of Coin World.
Read the first and third parts:
The third step is to learn as much about the notes as possible.
Mayer took every opportunity to learn about his hobby. He began
dealing full time with coins and paper money in the early 1990s and
also seriously started collecting obsolete notes.
The Christie’s auction of the American Bank Note Co. Archives of
obsolete proofs conducted in September 1990 provided collectors with
many never-before-seen examples. Mayer acquired many proofs from that sale.
ABNCo. was the nation’s foremost printer of paper money in the
1800s. It was formed in 1858 by a consolidation of seven leading bank
note engravers and printers.
Mayer kept track of who outbid him for notes at the Christie’s
ABNCo. auction and later acquired the notes from other collectors.
Mayer was one of only three collectors who attended all 18 auction
sessions of the Herb and Martha Schingoethe Collection of 30,000
Smythe & Co. began the auctions in 2004, and sale of the
collection was finally completed in 2009 by Spink of London after
Spink acquired Smythe in 2008.
Many rarities surfaced in the Schingoethe auctions. Many of the
notes traced their history back to the 1990 Christie’s sale, but there
were many new discoveries.
The John J. Ford Jr. Collection, sold by Stack’s and then Stack’s
Bowers Galleries in two dozen auctions from 2003 through 2013, also
contained many obsolete notes.
Mayer’s continual research always pointed him to the source of the
notes he was interested in acquiring.
A collector needs to look at every auction catalog and fixed-price
list offering obsolete notes. Also look on the websites of numismatic
booksellers for copies of auction catalogs offering obsolete notes.
Attend such auctions in person whenever possible. Nothing beats
seeing and handling a note in person. Even if a collector believes
particular items are financially out of reach, there is much knowledge
to gain about what is available by just attending such auctions and
examining the notes.
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