The American Numismatic Association auction has traditionally been
one of the biggest sales of the year, a showcase event for important
coins. While most ANA auctions can boast at least a few noteworthy
Colonial-era rarities, only a few ANA sale catalogs are must-haves for
a Colonial reference library.
John Adams’ reference, United States Numismatic Literature, Volume
II, rates every ANA sale conducted between 1907, when dealer Ben Green
held the first such event, and 1950. The Adams reference rates
auctions on an A through C- basis in a variety of numismatic
specialties. Just one of those sales merited an A for Colonials: the
1947 event by Numismatic Gallery, the partnership of Abe Kosoff and
Abner Kreisberg. Held in Buffalo, N.Y., the 1947 ANA auction included
the collection of Robert R. Prann of Puerto Rico, an advanced Colonial
specialist. Prann’s consignment included six Sommer Island coins, two
New England shillings, a New England sixpence, a Willow Tree sixpence,
a George Clinton copper, two Standish Barry threepences, six Higley
coppers and more than a hundred other nice Colonials.
The cataloging was meager and only a few lots were photographed.
In fact, among the highlights just mentioned, the only ones to get
pictures were a single Sommer Islands shilling and the George Clinton copper.
Five years later, the ANA convention in New York featured the best
cataloged and most comprehensive ANA auction yet. The 1952 ANA sale,
catalogued by New Netherlands Coin Co. and three other firms, is best
known today for including Homer Downing’s large cents. Its superb
Colonials are not as well known: a Willow Tree shilling and several
beautiful Pine Tree shillings, a 1785 Confederatio copper, a brass
Continental dollar, a 1792 Roman Head cent, and two 1792 Getz
patterns, all cataloged by the team of John J. Ford Jr. and Walter Breen.
The ANA show was back in New York City in 1976, and perhaps the
most important Colonial offering of any ANA sale hit the block in the
sale by Stack’s. It included pieces from the Massachusetts Historical
Society, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the estate of Carl
Wurtzbach. The rarities alone make this a must-have for Colonial
enthusiasts: a St. Patrick farthing in gold, a 1714 Gloucester token,
a New Jersey Immunis Columbia, a Standing Indian/New York Arms copper,
and more. The Colonial section represented just the first 130 lots,
but what a 130 lots they were!
Perhaps the most noteworthy collection of Colonials in a more
modern ANA auction was the 2010 offering of the Edward Roehrs
Collection of regulated gold coins by Heritage Auctions, the largest
offering of such material ever sold.
John Kraljevich Jr. is an independent professional numismatist and
researcher specializing in early American coinage.