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Numismatic History: The Stetson Collection Gold Coin Hoard

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

One of the more interesting (and lesser known) gold coin auctions that I’ve attended was the sale of the Stetson Collection which was conducted by the old Bowers and Merena in May, 1993. This was an instance where the back story (or stories in this case) was nearly as interesting as the coins themselves.
Stetson Hoard
Beginning in 1992, an amazing hoard of gold coins started to quietly enter the market. This hoard consisted of tens of thousands of coins dated from the late 1830’s through, I believe, the 1920’s. It included large quantities of semi-key St. Gaudens double eagles, extensive runs of Carson City eagles and double eagles, large quantities of New Orleans eagles from the 1880’s through the early 1900’s, sizable quantities of San Francisco rarities and much, much more. It has never been revealed where these coins came from (although it is widely rumored that they came from an Eastern European central bank; given the time they were sold it would suggest that they were dispersed by a former Soviet bloc country in an attempt to infuse some Western capital).

This incredible hoard was dispersed over a number of years in a quiet, orderly fashion. Some of the coins went to dealers who sold them to marketers or specialists. Other coins were sold at auction. The first group of these coins to sell at auction was at the aforementioned Bowers and Merena sale and I can remember being extremely excited to have the chance to purchase some very important and very fresh coins.

Before I discuss the sale (and some events leading up to it) I’d like to discuss the appearance of the coins themselves. Because of the massive size of this hoard (and the intelligence of the individual who was masterminding its dispersal) these coins were, for the most part, kept original and dirty. Many of them had the prototypical “euro-Grime” appearance which I describe as follows: extremely deep almost brassy orange-gold toning with a noticeable two-ton e appearance from blackish grime or dirt on the high spots. This appearance was almost certainly the result of the environmental conditions in which these coins were kept. On some coins, the look was very attractive. On others, it was pretty ugly and the coins needed to be dipped (or washed with soap and water at the very least).

When I learned about the sale I thought it was important enough to fly up to Wolfeboro, New Hampshire to view them in person. I made the flight arrangements, booked a room at the Wolfeboro Inn and set off to the Granite State. My flight from Dallas wound up getting into Boston late and I missed my connection to Manchester, New Hampshire so I wound up renting a car and driving. As I made my way up I-93 to New Hampshire it started to get extremely foggy and by the time I was within an hour of Wolfeboro, it was dark and almost impossible to see more than ten feet ahead of me. (more…)

Numismatic History: The Stetson Collection Gold Coin Hoard

One of the more interesting (and lesser known) gold coin auctions that I’ve attended was the sale of the Stetson Collection which was conducted by the old Bowers and Merena in May, 1993. This was an instance where the back story (or stories in this case) was nearly as interesting as the coins themselves.
Stetson Hoard
Beginning in 1992, an amazing hoard of gold coins started to quietly enter the market. This hoard consisted of tens of thousands of coins dated from the late 1830’s through, I believe, the 1920’s. It included large quantities of semi-key St. Gaudens double eagles, extensive runs of Carson City eagles and double eagles, large quantities of New Orleans eagles from the 1880’s through the early 1900’s, sizable quantities of San Francisco rarities and much, much more.

It has never been revealed where these coins came from (although it is widely rumored that they came from an Eastern European central bank; given the time they were sold it would suggest that they were dispersed by a former Soviet bloc country in an attempt to infuse some Western capital).

This incredible hoard was dispersed over a number of years in a quiet, orderly fashion. Some of the coins went to dealers who sold them to marketers or specialists. Other coins were sold at auction. The first group of these coins to sell at auction was at the aforementioned Bowers and Merena sale and I can remember being extremely excited to have the chance to purchase some very important and very fresh coins.

Before I discuss the sale (and some events leading up to it) I’d like to discuss the appearance of the coins themselves. Because of the massive size of this hoard (and the intelligence of the individual who was masterminding its dispersal) these coins were, for the most part, kept original and dirty.

Many of them had the prototypical “euro-Grime” appearance which I describe as follows: extremely deep almost brassy orange-gold toning with a noticeable two-ton e appearance from blackish grime or dirt on the high spots. This appearance was almost certainly the result of the environmental conditions in which these coins were kept. On some coins, the look was very attractive. On others, it was pretty ugly and the coins needed to be dipped (or washed with soap and water at the very least). (more…)