Collector or hoarder?
- Published: Aug 19, 2012, 8 PM
There are collectors ... and there are hoarders.
Collectors work hard to assemble groupings of coins that appeal to them, seeking quality and typically with a unified goal in mind. Hoarders aren’t so picky, but that lack of selectivity does not mean that they don’t also carry lofty ambitions.
This month our cover story is by biographer Jack Harpster, who recalls the legendary —
and mysterious — California investor LaVere Redfield. Some might call Redfield a hoarder as, over five decades, he put together a group of Morgan and Peace dollars that at its peak contained more than 600,000 dollars.
Redfield was apparently distrustful of both banks and the government, so he secured bags of silver dollars in his home, reportedly dumping his bags of dollars down a coal chute leading to his basement.
In building his hoard, Redfield did not individually select coins for quality as a collector might do, but he sought out bags of dollars carrying dates that had some premiums in the marketplace over the more common issues.
Redfield died in 1974 and A-Mark Coin Co. in Beverly Hills, Calif., led by Steve Markoff, acquired the hoard with a bid of $7.3 million. Markoff said in the Feb. 11, 1976, issue of Coin World, “The collectors of the United States are going to have a field day,” adding, “They’re magnificent coins.” Indeed, they were.
The hoard was marketed as “The greatest collection of high-quality silver dollars ever gathered under one roof.”
For many 1970s collectors, the purchase of a Redfield Hoard dollar represented their first collectible coin purchase, thanks to the extensive marketing efforts undertaken to sell these coins.
Many of the Morgan and Peace dollars in the coin market today were once part of Redfield’s hoard, although no official inventory of the hoard was ever made public. Besides introducing hundreds of thousands of high-grade dollars into the market, perhaps the most powerful impact of Redfield’s hoard is that it introduced many to the joys of coin collecting.
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