On March 26 Stack’s-Bowers, in conjunction with the Whitman Baltimore Expo, will be offering a collection of primarily early American coins and currency, sold under the name of and on behalf of the Henry P. Kendall Foundation. Assembled over more than 50 years by a dedicated collector, the sale will represent the 2nd large collection of early American coins to come to the market this year, the first being the Partrick collection sold in January by Heritage. In this article we will take a look at the Kendall Foundation auction, which is compromised of 557 widely varied lots, ranging from Federal coins to medals, tokens, world coins and contemporary counterfeits. A PDF copy of the catalog can be accessed online by clicking the following link: http://media.stacksbowers.com/VirtualCatalogs/2015/Stacks-Bowers-Galleries/Mar2015-Baltimore/SBG_Mar2015_Balt_Kendall_Catalog_LR.pdf
Many collectors, when assembling a specialized collection, will wish to acquire the finest grades they can afford. This collection, however, is different, as many common coins are in circulated grades, the personal preference of the collector (who goes unnamed in the catalog, and is only identified as a “collector from the Midwest”) who assembled the collection. This does not mean that some of the coins or currency in the collection are not the finest known; in fact, this is hardly the case, as especially the collection of Massachusetts silver coins is among the finest (if not THE finest) collection of that material ever assembled in one place.
The sale starts with 219 lots of Colonial and Continental currency, including a number of rarities seldom offered for sale. Lot 2001, for example, is a very rare 10 Kopeck note printed for the Russian-American Company, dating back to the mid 19th century, and meant for circulation in the parts of North-America that were claimed by Russia. The lands claimed by Russia stretched from Alaska to as far south as Fort Ross in present-day California, and the company even claimed a presence in Hawaii (Fort Elizabeth). Active in the fur and seal trade, some notes were printed to facilitate this trade, all of which are now very rare. The note offered by Stack’s-Bowers, graded Choice New 63PPQ by PCGS Currency is among the finest known of this historically important issue. Other lots of paper money include rare issues of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, as well as rare issues of Continental Currency seldom offered for sale.
The coin part of the collection starts with lot 2301, one of just eight Noe 1-A NE Shillings in private hands, graded PCGS EF45. The coin is a high-quality example of the earliest coinage struck on the North-American continent in what today is the United States. The next lot, 2302, is an even rarer Noe 1-D variety of the same denomination, graded VF30 by PCGS. This is not the last New England Shilling to be offered, however, as the collection has an amazing number of six(!) examples of this very rare and historic issue. The New England Shillings are complemented with one of just four New England Six Pences in private hands. Offered as lot 2307, the coin is one of just seven examples known to exist in total, and is graded EF40 by PCGS.
The simple New England issues were followed by the Willow Tree design. Lot 2308 is an amazing uncirculated, double-struck example of the very rare Noe 1-A Willow Tree Shilling, graded MS62 by PCGS. The coin, crudely struck as always, can be called a miracle for surviving in this condition for 350 years or so. Another very important example of the Willow Tree coinage is offered as lot 2314, the only Willow Tree threepence in private hands, and one of just three confirmed examples known to exist. Graded AU50 by PCGS, the coin is one of the stoppers in the entire Massachusetts silver series and is expected to perhaps break once again the price-record for a coin of this series.
Willow Tree coinage was followed by the Oak Tree coinage, of which numerous high-grade examples are offered across all denominations, some of which are finest known. The highlight in this subseries is perhaps lot 2338, the only Noe-15 Oak Tree Sixpence in existence, graded PCGS AU55. While the Willow Tree threepence is “a” stopper, this coin can be called “the” stopper in the series. In hundreds of years of study not a single other example has even rumored to exist. The coin, which is overstruck on a cut-down Oak Tree Shilling with a strong undertype visible, should see spirited bidding from advanced specialists of the series. The coin was plated in the 1875 Crosby reference and has a pedigree tracing back to an 1882 auction, having been owned by some very famous numismatists between then and now.
The final subset in the Massachusetts series is the Pine Tree Coinage, with which many collectors will be familiar. Many of the coins of this series in the collection are among the finest known, and in the whole series of Massachusetts silver there are only a few varieties missing. Of these, most are unique and permanently impounded in museum collections. While the coins are not always necessarily the finest known for their respective varieties, the sheer completeness of the collection is amazing. Also included are a number of cut pieces that were recovered from the wreck of the HMS Feversham. While cut coins like that would generally be considered damaged and rarely worthy of collecting, their pedigree makes them important, as they show the extent to which these cut pieces circulated well into the 18th century and were even exported to Europe, where presumably many were melted.
After the extensive offering of Massachusetts silver come even more colonial rarities. Offered are a number of examples of the earliest coinage struck for North-America, the Sommer Islands coinage struck for coinage on what is now known as Bermuda. While not technically part of the series related to the United States, they have been included in the Red Book forever, and are now an important part of American Colonial Numismatics. The highlight of this coinage is perhaps lot 2448, one of just three Sommer Islands Threepences in private hands, graded EF40 by PCGS. Like all Sommer Islands coinage the piece shows less than perfect surfaces, as virtually all have been dug up on the island. The rarity of the coin makes that the quality is less important and the coin should see spirited bidding.
Another colonial rarity that is perhaps not as well known if you are not a specialist of colonial coins is lot 2494. It is a very rare 1670-A 15 Sols struck for the French Colonies in America, one of just six in private hands, with about fourteen pieces known to exist in total. The coin is the largest denomination of a series struck for an area that included much of present-day Canada as well as some parts of the United States, and a major rarity of importance to colonial collectors. The coin is graded VF35 by PCGS and is plated in Walter Breen’s famous Encyclopedia.
There are not just colonial coins offered in the collection, even though they make up the bulk of the hefty catalog. One of the true highlights of the series is lot 2577, an example of the very first American Cent, the 1792 Birch Cent. Graded AU58 by PCGS, this is the 2nd example of this issue to come to the market this year (the first was an MS65 graded example in the Partrick collection), but that does not make it common by any means. Just seven(!) coins in total are known of this type, a pattern issue designated as Judd-4 in the major reference on pattern coinage, and one of the earliest patterns for a standardized American coinage.
Lot 2583 is another highlight of the series that should see spirited bidding, one of just four original 1861 Confederate Half Dollars struck in April of 1861. While restrikes are occasionally offered for sale the originals are prime rarities. While currency issued by the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War is relatively common, the very few coins that were struck are prime rarities, as they never circulated. The coin offered in this collection is graded AU58 by PCGS and the finer of just two examples of this enigmatic issue in private hands. Other Confederate coinage offered includes numerous restrikes as well as an original 1861 Confederate Cent (lot 2579).
Of course we skipped dozens of highlights in this collection, as an article of this length will inevitably do. We invite you to leisurely browse the catalog, and see for yourself the importance of this assemblage of historic coins and currency. Once these lots are sold the catalog will be all to serve as a reminder of the impressive display of Massachusetts silver assembled by this anonymous collector, as well as all the other coins and currency that were included. Since some have been off the market for half a century or longer before, it is up to anyone’s guess when some of these items will be offered for sale again. It could be next year, as sometimes happens, but it could also very well be in 2065 or even later.