US Coins

McClure consignment anchors Long Beach sale

The coin collection of Rev. Dr. James Gore King McClure will anchor Heritage’s June Long Beach auction.

Original images courtesy of Heritage Auctions

The Long Beach Coin, Currency, Stamp and Sports Collectible Expo is set for California’s Long Beach convention center from June 9 to 11.

Anchoring Heritage’s official show auctions will be the Rev. Dr. James Gore King McClure Collection of U.S. and world coins, medals and tokens, which Heritage describes as “a pristine, fresh-to-market grouping of more than 3,000 coins collected between the 1860s and the 1930s.”

McClure was born in Albany, N.Y., in November 1848 and began collecting coins at a young age, possibly in the late 1850s, and certainly by the early 1860s.

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His numismatic interest continued throughout his life, until his death at age 83 in Lake Forest, Ill., in January 1932. On McClure, Heritage said, “A much-admired community leader, he served variously as the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church and president of Lake Forest College in addition to being a founding president of the McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. He was a member of the Mayflower Society, a direct descendant of Mayflower passenger John Howland — and an avid coin collector.”

McClure was a passionate collector and he wrote on his collection and collecting in the 1890s that his interest in coins started when he was a boy, “and that interest, though a very minor part of life now, still exerts its influence, much as the perfume lingers about the vase that once held the flower.”

Among the notable lots of the more than 800 coins from the collection to be offered in June is a previously unknown example of the famed 1794 Flowing Hair dollar, graded Very Good 10 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., which certified the McClure Collection.

The dollar is not included among the 134 examples identified by Martin Logies in his The Flowing Hair Silver Dollars of 1794. Around 2,000 dollars were minted in 1794, but only 1,758 coins were acceptable for delivery on Oct. 15, 1794.

The present example shows typical weakness on the lower left stars, but has a bolder date than seen on many other known examples. The description adds, “The dove-gray surfaces are highlighted by areas of darker slate patina and show no large or distracting abrasions.”

When McClure was collecting coins, even rarities were minimally described in auction catalogs and rarely illustrated. “As a result, modern researchers, like Jack Collins and Martin Logies, have little to go on when trying to trace the coins in these early offerings. McClure’s collection was carefully stored, and never publicly offered after his death, so there are no later appearances to document the history of this piece. Its early history remains an intriguing mystery.”

Greg Rohan, president of Heritage, said that beyond the size and scope of the collection, it is fascinating “because it has sat, largely untouched, in a safe deposit box in Illinois for decades. Dr. McClure acquired many of these coins at the time of issue, either from circulation or at the bank, and others were gifts from friends.”

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