US Coins

Large cent collector Douglas F. Bird dies at 78

Douglas F. Bird

Image courtesy of Ira & Larry Goldberg Auctioneers.

Long-time collector and professional numismatist Douglas F. Bird — whose collection of U.S. large cents surprised many copper collectors when it crossed the auction block in 2020 — passed away Jan. 5 at age 78 after a lengthy illness.

Mr. Bird’s illness prevented him from attending his 179-coin auction held Feb. 16, 2020, by Ira & Larry Goldberg Auctioneers.

Mr. Bird had been a fixture at many U.S. coin shows for decades where he was readily recognizable by the magnifier he had attached to his prescription glasses for examining coins in detail.

A native of Boston, Mr. Bird began collecting coins in 1953 at the age of nine.

In 1966, Mr. Bird was awarded a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Loyola University in Los Angeles.

After being drafted by the U.S. Army and serving a 13-month deployment to Vietnam between 1967 and 1968, Mr. Bird returned to the private sector and worked in human resources from 1969 through 1982.

During that period, he was also a part-time coin dealer, making numismatics a full-time profession in 1982, offering early U.S. copper coins and type coins.

He joined Early American Coppers in 1973 and held life membership in the American Numismatic Association.

Bob Grellman, a copper specialist who cataloged the coins in Mr. Bird’s collection for the Feb. 16, 2020, auction, wrote in Mr. Bird’s profile in the auction catalog that at most EAC meetings he would introduce himself as a coin dealer and collector of low grade large cents.

Mr. Bird’s collection was anything but low grade when Grellman cataloged the coins.

Most of the coins in the sale were graded and encapsulated by Professional Coin Grading Service. They included a PCGS About Uncirculated 55 1793 Flowing Hair, Chain, AMERI. cent; a PCGS AU-50 1793 Liberty Cap cent; a PCGS Mint State 65, brown, 1796 Draped Bust, LIHERTY cent; and a privately struck 1804 Draped Bust “restrike” cent in white metal, in PCGS MS-63 and stickered for its quality by Certified Acceptance Corp.

At the time of the 2020 auction, Mr. Bird held the top PCGS Registry sets of certified U.S. coins in 16 different classifications.

Many of the 179 cents in the Bird collection, according to his auction catalog profile, were  acquired from Europe, primarily England, and were not known to most copper collectors until the auction.

Mr. Bird is survived by his widow, Ida; a son, Douglas Bird Jr.; and Doug Jr.’s wife, Melissa, and two granddaughters.

Final services were private for the family.

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