Filed Under: Great Collections
By Doug Winter – www.raregoldcoins.com
As with many of the great collections, the Norweb Collection was formed through a number of generations. The collection was begun by Liberty Emery Holden, the owner of the Cleveland Plain Dealer in the 1890’s. His son, Albert Holden, was an ardent numismatist who added a number of important coins to the collection between the late 1890’s and his death in 1913. His daughter Emery May Holden Norweb (or “Mrs. Norweb” as she became known to the collecting fraternity) and her husband R. Henry Norweb Sr. were well-known collectors who were very active from the 1930’s to the early 1970’s; he died in 1983 and his wife passed away in 1984. Their son R. Henry Norweb Jr. and his wife are still collectors although they decided to sell the bulk of their family’s collection in 1987 and 1988.
The firm of Bowers and Merena was chosen to sell the United States coins from the Norweb Collection. The first of three sales was held in October 1987. It contained half cents, Indian and Lincoln cents, two cent and three cent pieces, half dimes, dimes, twenty cent pieces, three dollar gold pieces, California fractional gold and colonials. There were a total of 1413 lots and highlights included a Gem Proof 1829 Small Planchet half eagle that sold for $352,000 and a Gem Uncirculated 1864-S half eagle that realized $110,000.
Part II of the Norweb Collection was conducted in March 1988. This sale contained nickels, quarters, Trade dollars, gold dollars, quarter eagles, eagles and Colonials. There were 1269 lots in this sale and highlights included a Proof 1885 Trade Dollar that sold for $121,000 and a superb gem 1911-D eagle that realized $132,000.
The final Norweb sale was held in November 1988. This 1451 lot sale included large cents, half dollars, patterns, colonials, silver dollars, and double eagles. Highlights were a gem 1797 half dollar that brought $220,000, a Proof 1838-O half dollar that sold for $93,500, a 1792 Silver Center Cent that realized $143,000, an Uncirculated 1794 silver dollar which sold for $242,000, a gem 1893-S dollar which broke all records at $357,500 and the extremely rare 1861 Paquet reverse double eagle which sold for $660,000.
Overall, this 4000+ lot sale realized more than $10 million dollars. Many price records were set in all series.
The Norweb collection will long be remembered for its broad scope and superb quality. Over 95% of all United States regular issue coins were present and there were many finest known or Condition Census pieces in all series. The strongest areas included pre-1834 gold coins, early copper and silver proofs and mintmarked 19th century gold.
As with the Eliasberg collection, many of the Norweb coins were from famous auctions conducted in the early part of the 20th century. Thus, by owning a Norweb coin, it is often possible to trace its pedigree back another 50 to 75 years.