When Josiah K. Lilly donated his coin collection to the Smithsonian
Institution, it required Congressional intervention to grant a tax
write-off for the donor, causing a great controversy.
Dealer Abe Kosoff maintained an archive on the Lilly collection and
the controversy surrounding its acquisition by the United States as
part of the National Numismatic Collection, including inventories,
photographs, pedigrees, prices paid, correspondence and other materials.
Now, one buyer can own all that material. The archive is among
several notable highlights in Kolbe & Fanning Numismatic
Booksellers’ Nov. 1 auction of numismatic literature in Baltimore, Md.
The auction will be held in conjunction with the Whitman Coin &
Collectibles Expo at the Baltimore Convention Center.
The archive content spans from 1967 to 1981 and includes
approximately 800 pieces, comprising various typescripts,
correspondence items, handwritten and typewritten inventories,
photographic prints of ingots and coins, photographic negatives
related to those images, numismatic newspaper clippings, and more.
Researchers in 2003 announced that two gold bars in the Lilly
Collection were modern forgeries.
The research was apparently archived by Kosoff to author a book
about the subject, but the project never came to fruition, according
to the auction catalog.
“[Since then], technology has helped to advance numismatic research
by leaps and bounds, though absolute truth, as always, remains
elusive,” according to the catalog. “The material present here may
further aid in the separation of wheat from chaff, hero from villain.”
The archive is estimated at $20,000.
Other highlights from the auction, which includes the library of a
“Journeyman Numismatist” and other properties, include 31 different
“plated” Henry Chapman auction catalogs (meaning they contain
photographic plates of some of the coins in the sale). Many of these
sales are some of the earliest, notable collections, including Matthew
Stickney, Charles Bushnell and John Story Jenks, among others.
The auction also includes 10 plated Thomas Elder catalogs, including
Lyman Low’s copy of a 1917 auction. The auction firm also offers the
original photographic paste-ups of the plates for the 1975 Early
American Coppers sale, featuring the collection of Connecticut coppers
formed by Q. David Bowers.
The sale includes many other notable works, most especially on
American colonial coins, featuring early plated sales and standard
works as well as rarely offered photographic plates depicting
specialized series. A number of items are unique, and many others are
A PDF of the catalog is posted at the Kolbe & Fanning website, where
prospective bidders may access the live, online catalog and register
For more information, visit the firm’s website or email David Fanning.