Published: March 29, 2016
Review and Onsite Photos by W.A. Demers;
Additional Photos Courtesy Roland NY
NEW YORK CITY — When William and Robert Roland made a house call to the East Hampton, N.Y., home of the late Dr Alan York, they were astounded by the breadth and depth of what they have come to characterize as a “mega-collection” — vast historical holdings that tell the story of Western civilization and the history of the United States of America from George Washington’s 1789 inauguration through the new millennium. Roland Auctions NY presented a 487-lot auction of coins, medallic and paper money specimens on March 11, the second of many specialized auctions containing “collections of a collection.”
The leading lot in the sale was a sheet of Suffolk County Bank 1844 obsolete notes that outperformed its $7/10,000 presale estimate to settle at $21,250. The lot consisted of two uncut sheets, one of $2, $1, $3 and $5 notes and the other of $10 and $20 notes. Old currency like this is no longer good at its face value. However, obsolete banknotes are still rare and collectible. As usual, condition and rarity are the two most important factors that determine what a certain bill is worth.
“Very minute differences in the engraving as well as the scarcity of the specimen itself come into play in driving the price,” said Michael Podniesinski, the firm’s gallery director. The lot went to a private collector. In fact, Podniesinski said that almost every high note in the sale went to an agent bidding on behalf of a private individual, so many of these items will return to anonymity.
“Dr York was an esteemed collector, very private toward the end of his life,” said Podniesinski, adding that the optometrist was able to put his collection together at a time when he was able to purchase items for $20–$40, according to receipts and auction records. “We’re now seeing these realizing magnitudes above their original purchase price, in some cases, 10, 20, 30 times what Dr York paid for them.”
Still, the sale was organized not only to showcase highlights from the collection, but to offer lots at every bidding tier, from novice to connoisseur.
The Long Island notes demonstrated particular strength in the sale, according to Podniesinski. A US 1902 $10 national bank note issued by the East Hampton National Bank picturing US President William McKinley on its face and Lady Liberty on the back was cataloged as in very fine condition and sold for $12,500.
A medallic highlight in the sale was a US circa 1800 George Washington funeral medal that took $11,875. Known as a “Victor Sine Clade” example, the silver unholed medal depicts America’s first president on the obverse and a plinth, mourning cherub, trophies of war and urn on the reverse surrounded by the words “He is in glory, the world in tears.”
Washington had been dead for a couple of weeks when two funeral processions were conducted for him in Boston. As was customary, many mourners bought and wore medals made on site. This Washington medal was by Jacob Perkins, an engraver for the United States Mint. “When Washington left the White House, there was a large call for him to stay, some even wanted him to be the ‘king’ of the United States,” said Podniesinski. “He was viewed as the military savior of the country and his passing shook the nation to its core.” Again, condition and scarcity of this high relief medal drove its price, and a private collector was the successful bidder.
Fetching $5,938 was superb, clean and crisp Great Britain Queen Victoria gold coin, an early issue to American explorer and surgeon Isaac Israel Hayes of the American Arctic Expedition, which went in search of Sir John Franklin and his crew. The 1¼-inch diameter coin by L.C. Wyon, weighed in at .75 troy ounces.
Additional highlights included a US 1929 $20 national bank note from the Peoples National Bank of Greenport, N.Y., at a strong $11,250, way above its $400/600 estimate; another lot of uncut sheets of Suffolk County Bank 1844 notes in denominations of $1, $2, $3, $5, $10 and $20 that also took $11,250; a US 1902 $10 national bank note from the First National Bank of Lindenhurst, N.Y., selling for $8,750; and an uncut sheet of four $5 notes from the Dunbar National Bank of New York from 1902 going out at $6,875.
The vast York hoard will continued to salt Roland auctions throughout this year. Other substantial holdings to be sold throughout spring 2016 comprise historic Americana, more coins, medals and paper money and international philately. Categories comprising York’s encyclopedic trove include abolition, the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, the Temperance movement, the suffragette movement, Long Island history, both World Wars, John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement, the Cold War and the Space Race.
Prices reported include the buyer’s premium.
For additional information, www.rolandauctions.com or 212-260-2000.
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