Chapter 14: Morgan Dollars, the Treasury Releases Table of Contents

A-Mark later sued Bowers and Ruddy Galleries, alleging interference with its contract. The matter was followed for a time in court, and then dismissed.

A-Mark arranged the distribution of the coins by giving specific dealers rights to certain bags or other quantities. Soon, Paramount International Coin Corporation, John Love, Robert Hughes (who later sold many coins to Joel Rettew), and others were advertising or wholesaling groups of Redfield dollars. Paramount, in particular, mounted a nationwide advertising campaign which emphasized the mystique of LaVere Redfield, the eccentric millionaire who loved silver dollars.

It is said that the deal included over 407,000 Morgan and Peace silver dollars, of which 351,259 were Uncirculated. Most were of San Francisco Mint varieties. John Highfill stated in his Comprehensive U.S. Silver Dollar Encyclopedia that the Redfield estate silver dollars included the dollars described below.

Morgan dollars in quantity, in descending order from the largest quantity: 1881-S (largest number of anyone issue in the hoard), 1880-S, 1879-S, 1878-S, 1882-S, 1896, 1898, 1897, 1897-S, 1890-S.

This next group, in date order, appeared in the Redfield hoard in quantities from nearly 10 bags down to fractions of a bag each: 1883-S, 1886-S, 1887-S, 1888-S, 1889 Gust a few, apparently), 1889- S, 1890, 1890-CC, 1891 Gust a few), 1891-S, 1892-CC, 1893-CC, 1896-S, 1898-S, 1899-S, 1900-S, 1902- S, 1903, and 1921-S Gust a few).

John Highfill gave a separate list of these Morgan dollar issues, each of which was in very small quanti-ties, 1885-CC, 1891-CC, 1892, 1893, 1895-S, and 1879-CC (the smallest quantity of all).

The Peace dollar holdings in large quantity in the Redfield estate were as follows: 1922-S (most plentiful of all), 1923-S, 1926-S, and 1935-S.

Then came smaller quantities of these Peace dollars: 1928-S, 1927-S, 1925-S, and 1924-S (fewest of any Peace dollar issue).

Before long most of the Redfield dollars were scattered among thousands of different buyers. The aura of the Redfield hoard was maintained when in 1982 it was singled out for special mention by Wayne Miller in his Morgan and Peace Dollar Textbook. In 1992, a decade later, John Highfill devoted a chapter to the Redfield estate in his Comprehensive US. Silver Dollar Encyclopedia.

I recall that the immense publicity given to the Redfield hoard increased the market prices of certain Morgan dollars represented in the estate, and, to a lesser extent, Peace dollars. Each month, it seemed, the bid and ask prices on the Teletype and in the Coin Dealer Newsletter would go up.

However, Leroy C. Van Allen and A. George Mallis had a different view of what happened to the Morgan dollar values: (P. 405, Comprehensive Catalog and Encyclopedia of Morgan & Peace Dollars.)

Overall the Redfield Peace dollar dates moved up with the market. The later date Morgan S-Mints carried the stigma of a Redfield date for many years with relatively slow price ap-preciation except for the 1901-S which was not a Redfield date. It was not until 1982 and 1983 that the 1890-S and 1891-S had the Redfield stigma lifted and made exceptionally rapid advances in price ....

Newsletter writers and other prognosticators, few of whom had any solid facts concerning the dates and mintmarks of the coins involved, had a field day with the Redfield estate. The cache was the talk of the rare coin business, perhaps proving the old adage that "a little learning is a dangerous thing."2Just think what would have happened if investment newsletter writers, et al., had known the contents of the far larger "Curly" Stansbury hoard of better quality dollars (see below) or had been aware of the long-since-forgotten Cash Room dispersals at the Treasury Building in the 1950s! All of this suggests that the coin market-like the stock market-often moves on rumors and half-truths, rather than full knowledge of the facts.

The "Curly" Stansbury Hoard
As discussed earlier in Ira Goldberg's recollections, "Curly" Stansbury, a Long Beach, California numismatist and investor, acquired a quantity of over 750,000 Uncirculated silver dollars, mostly of the. Morgan type, and including many scarce issues. These were dispersed effectively and quietly over a period of about 20 years-1966 to 1985-by Superior Stamp & Coin Company.

Stansbury bought with discrimination, unlike LaVere Redfield; and readily paid a premium for quality coins. No inventory of his, holdings has ever been published, but the treasure trove must have contained many interesting things.

Dealers active in the 1950s and early 1960s remember Stansbury as a buyer of dollar bags of what might be called semi-scarce dates; coins which were selling for, say $1,500 to $2,000 per bag when bags of commoner issues were fetching $1,050 to $1,200. Of course, he bought his share of common bags as well.

The Continental-Illinois Bank Hoard The Continental-Illinois Bank,of Chicago, held a large quantity of silver dollars as part of its cash reserves.' This clever tactic was used by numerous banks in the United States, especially those who had numismatists among their directors, or who had good advice from clients who knew of the potential of these coins. During the year 1963 in particular, large quantities of Morgan dollars dated in the nineteenth century, and composed of many branch mint issues could be ordered easily from just about any Federal Reserve Bank.

The Continental-Illinois Bank did this. Unfortunately, in the late 1970s the bank fell upon difficult times, and .in the early 1980s it liquidated its silver dollars. A hoard comprising an estimated 1.5 million silver dollars of the Morgan and Peace types was bought in "the deal of a lifetime" by Chicago professional numismatist Ed Milas, proprietor of Rarcoa, who pledged to keep the details a secret.

The coins were marketed in the early 1980s through Colonial Coins (Dr. George Vogt) of Houston, Texas, and Silver Towne (Leon Hendrickson) of Winchester, Indiana. Unlike the Redfield dispersal, the Continental-Illinois hoard was distributed with very little press agency or commentary from newsletter writers. Most people in the coin market, including many dealers, were not aware of the extent of the hoard until later, when those involved began to recount their experiences.

No inventory was ever published of the holding. It is believed that Silver Towne sold at least 350,000 Uncirculated coins and perhaps half a million AU or so specimens,while Colonial Coins sold about 500,000 Uncirculated dollars. Dates involved included vast numbers of Mint State 1879-S, 1880-S, 1881-S (in particular) , 1882-S, 1883-O, 1884-O, 1885, 1885-O, 1886, and 1887 Morgan dollars.

The availability of 1881-S and other dates in large quantities prompted many buyers of the dollars to devise ingenious advertising and investment programs. At what was otherwise a quiet time in the market, the Continental-Illinois hoard did much to spur interest in silver dollars in particular and coins in general.

 

Chapter 14: Morgan Dollars, the Treasury Releases Table of Contents