US Coins

Amazing Tom Reynolds Collection: Guest Commentary

Tom Reynolds focused much of his early large cent collecting attention to the coins of 1798, including this 1798/7 cent.

Images courtesy of Ira & Larry Goldberg Auctioneers.

Guest Commentary from the Dec. 14, 2015, issue of Coin World:

I have known Tom Reynolds for over 30 years. During that time, we have done multiple business deals, joint ventures, and more. But nothing that had happened in the past ever prepared me for the experience in bringing the Tom Reynolds Collection of Highly Important Large Cents to auction in Los Angeles in January 2016 and January 2017 — a process that started several months ago. 

Tom and I had talked for many years about the eventual possibility of selling his collection. 

I have been involved in the negotiations of many collections brought to public auction during my involvement in rare coins, which spans over 50 years. Unknown to all, except a few people, I was involved in the Robinson Brown Collection, the Jack Robinson Collection, the D. Irving Long Collection, and many others. Due to my experience in attending the great majority of coin auctions and conventions since the 1960s, I have very good relationships with all of the major auction firms today. In fact, during a recent conversation with Harvey Stack, I pointed out that I am probably one of the oldest continuous clients from his sales. Harvey thought for a while and was hard pressed to come up with someone else who has attended 95 percent of all Stack’s auctions for the past 50 years. 

So based on this, a series of conversations and emails started regarding this collection. As we all know now, Tom chose the firm of Larry & Ira Goldberg for this venture. 

What was completely unknown to me, as well as most other numismatists, was the vast scope of early large cents that Tom amassed over the last 40 years. Starting with a 1793 Flowing Hair, Chain cent in Professional Coin Grading Service About Uncirculated 53, tracing its pedigree back to the 1952 American Numismatic Association sale and Homer Downing, I saw an incredible, high quality collection that was carefully selected by Tom from many of the great collections, a good deal of which I attended. Such names as Brand, Norweb, Garrett and Eliasberg are well represented. 

Further, in going through the draft of the catalog, I saw that virtually all of the great collections of the past 100 years included coins that are now in the Reynolds Collection. The names Chapman, Mehl, Stickney, Parmelee and many others form a look into the past of what was included in collections long since dispersed. 

I saw multiple Mint State 1794, 1795 and 1797 cents as well as dozens of Mint State 1798 cents! In addition, there were many Mint State pieces from 1800 through 1803. Further, the Turban cents (1808 to 1814) included many of the finest of each date that I have ever seen. Even though other collections were complete by Sheldon numbers, none that I have seen in past auctions had the quality that the Reynolds Collection contained. The only sale that was on par with this one was the Helfenstein sale — held back in 1964 by Lester Merkin. 

My good friend Gordon Wrubel at PCGS had comments such as “Amazing” and “Wonderful” when these were sent to PCGS for grading. As well, Tom’s collection was one of the last of the “old time” collections that have never been certified. 

A great many of the finest coins of all had one name attached to them — Naftzger. 

R.E. Naftzger, or Ted as he was called, put together the finest large cent collection of all time. Unlike many of the other “name collections,” this collection was sold privately — not at public auction. Tom was able to purchase the majority of the 1798 cents (as Tom is known for having). As well, Tom bought a great many other dates from Ted’s collection. 

A quick look at the catalog will find Ted Naftzger’s name included with many of the coins being offered. I knew Ted, and had a few dealings with him. Ted’s coins can be easily recognized by the “Green Magic Marker” comments on many of the envelopes. A good many of these envelopes will accompany the coins from Tom’s collection — as will other pedigree information. 

The Tom Reynolds Collection will long be remembered as one of the most important large cent sales of all time, with quality that has been unmatched in the past several decades. 

I invite you to participate in the Tom Reynolds Collection — Part 1 and 2 — which will certainly take its place among the most important large cent sales ever sold at public auction.

Kenneth M. Goldman is a rare coin dealer from Massachusetts and has been attending coin conventions and coin auctions for more than 50 years.


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