Coin Collecting Perspectives: Flooding the Market….. Coin Hoards
by Tony Davis – Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers ……….
Since mintage and condition of coins plays such a large factor in the value of numismatic coins, it’s of no surprise that when large stockpiles of coins are found ( coin hoards ) , it can seriously alter the value and demand of rare or numismatic coins. Some of the stories of collectors hoarding coins are not only interesting, but have likely impacted the value of the price of coins, as is the case with the following two examples.
The New York Subway Coin Hoard
This collection of coins was a coordinated effort between coin dealer George Shaw and his brother-in-law, Morris Moscow, who worked for the New York Transit Authority. Since Moscow had access to large quantities of coins, he would cash out valuable coins as they passed through his hands, and wound up amassing the largest collection 1916-D Mercury Dimes ever seen, with 241 total examples. Additionally, his efforts produced an extensive collection of 166 1942 over 41 Mercury Dimes. Keep in mind that these are the coins that were left after Moscow’s death, and do not include the ones he would have sold through Shaw during his life.
The 1916 Standing Liberty Quarter, in its first year of production, had a limited mintage of only 52,000 coins. The New York Subway Hoard included an amazing 19 examples of the coin, with two of them grading out in extremely fine condition. There were other prime quarters in the collection, including two key Barber quarter dates. Moscow held 8 examples of the 1901-S Barber quarter, one of the most desirable coins from its era, and 20 specimens of the 1913-S Barber quarter. These are highly sought-after coins, which are valued well in excess of their face value. It’s astounding to think that they were exchanged over a 30 – 40 year period for a mere subway token. Needless to say, very few coin collectors have had access to the type of coins that Moscow was privy to over his lengthy career with the New York Subway Authority.
Since there were a broad variety of coins amassed in this coin hoard, it doesn’t appear that the market price for these coins was significantly altered in all examples, but the large collection of 1916-D Mercury Dimes most likely altered the value of these coins following their acquisition by Littleton Coins.
The Redfield Hoard
LaVere Redfield was an extremely eccentric individual, making millions of dollars in real estate and securities trading during the Great Depression. After amassing a fortune, he set himself up in Reno, Nevada, where he began what made his name posthumously famous.
Like others during the Depression, Redfield was not so keen on the idea of banks. The shortsighted actions of the banking industry had ruined many men, and he seemed determined to avoid that same fate. In an effort to avoid the use of paper currency, Redfield would buy bags of 1,000 silver dollars at face value from local banks. He stored them in his beat-up pickup truck and his cellar, and in time, eventually converted most of his financial assets into these coins.
By the time of his death, Redfield owed a massive amount of back taxes to the IRS. Upon searching his house, a false wall was found that housed his hoard of silver dollars. When the wall was opened, investigators found over 400,000 silver dollars. Redfield primarily purchased uncirculated coins in impeccable condition, yet many of them were damaged from being dropped through a coal chute down into his basement stash. It’s estimated that the total weight of his coins was an astonishing 11 tons!
Unlike the New York Subway Hoard, whose impact on the coin industry was difficult to determine, the Redfield Hoard altered the market for silver dollars. While true details of the contents of the hoard were never released, we do know that of the 407,000 coins, 351,259 of them were determined to be in uncirculated condition. This was uncommon at the time, as silver dollars were used as currency, with little to no thought regarding their numismatic or collectible value. One mintage found in the hoard, the 1888-S Morgan Silver Dollar, was found in excess of 5,000 high end examples. Since the 1888-S itself only had a mintage of 657,000 coins, these uncirculated examples significantly altered their value.
Another coin whose price was likely affected due to its presence in the Redfield hoard is the 1895-S Morgan silver dollar. The San Francisco Mint only produced 400,000 of these coins, many of which were in circulated condition due to their extensive use. The surviving number of these coins is unknown, as approximately 270 million coins were melted in response to the Pittman Act in 1918. Assuming that some of these coins in the Redfield collection were of a higher quality, which is almost certainly the case, it would have significantly altered the price and availability of choice examples.
The Redfield Hoard was purchased intact by Steve Markoff of A-Mark Coin Company in 1976. He attempted to mitigate any reduction in value of the coins by quietly releasing them over a few years. Due to this, we are unsure as to how much of an impact this had on the market. However, on a positive note, the notoriety of the hoard may have increased Morgan silver dollar demand with collectors and non-collectors alike; generally ignored before 1960. The Morgan silver dollar has seen a meteoric rise in desirability, and the work of the eccentric Redfield likely played a significant part.
Tony Davis is the owner of Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers, a full service Atlanta based coin and bullion dealer specializing in buying, selling and appraising coins and coin collections of all types and sizes. Visit his website at www.atlantagoldandcoin.com for additional information on the products, services and educational resources offered by his company. Tony can be reached at email@example.com or at 404-236-9744.