- Costa Mesa, CA - Stack's Bowers Galleries was proud to conduct Part IV of the Sydney F. Martin Collection in Griffin Studios at their August 2023 Global Showcase Auction as an Auctioneer Partner of the ANA
World's Fair of Money. This landmark event, entitled "The New England Sale" in recognition of the regional focus of this auction, realized prices totaling $3,817,668, building on the success of the firm's previous offerings from the Sydney F. Martin Collection, which now total nearly $15 million. This 1758 Louisbourg Taken Medal graded PCGS MS63 fetched $180,000 in Part IV of the Sydney F. Martin Collection sale
Strong prices could be found in all categories of the auction, particularly among the Betts medals and major rarities in the areas featured: the silver coins of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Higley coppers, 1776 Continental Dollars, 1787 Connecticut coppers, Vermont coppers, and 1787 Fugio Cents. The results underscore the demand for exceptional coins with storied pedigrees as well as the broader strength of the market for type coins and varieties in each of these categories.
Syd Martin was well known for his exceptional collecting acumen and legendary holdings. His research produced authoritative reference works for many of his collecting specialties. He was an active, enthusiastic member of and contributor to numismatic clubs and organizations like the Colonial Coin Collectors Club (C4).
The first offering from Martin's collection of contemporary medals relating to the colonial history of America, better known as Betts medals, produced surprisingly strong results across the board. Martin brought ecumenism to his collecting, gathering up historically significant items worth just a few hundred dollars, as well as those worth into six figures. Gold items are rare in the series, but that did not stop Martin from acquiring five different medals in gold, including the Louisbourg Taken medal (Betts-410) graded PCGS MS63, which brought $180,000 after spirited bidding. John Law medals proved popular, with Martin's (1720) Put Up or Shut Up medal (Betts-134) in tin graded AU50 by PCGS bringing an incredible $14,400. His thin planchet (ca. 1584) Raleigh Plantation token (Betts-15) graded PCGS XF40 soared to $28,800.
Over 80 lots of the 17th century coinage of the Massachusetts Bay Colony were marked by uniform high quality for each variety, with Martin having acquired many condition census pieces and coins with significant pedigrees. His Noe-2 Pine Tree shilling, known as the "Straight Tree" variety, was graded AU58+ by PCGS and brought $20,400. Seven Higley coppers were on offer in this auction, representing the balance of Martin's unprecedented 13-piece die variety collection of the series. His 1739 Broad Axe, Freidus 3.3-D variety graded VF20 by PCGS climbed to $66,000.
Martin had a great love for Connecticut coppers, and his collection, the most complete ever formed by die marriage, has been sold in sections starting with the 1785-dated coins in Stack's Bowers Galleries' August 2022 auction. In the August 2023 auction, the first half of the 1787-dated issues was sold, achieving some of the highest prices in years for these uniformly high-quality Connecticut coppers. His 1787 Miller 1.3-L, a Rarity-6 variety graded VF20 by PCGS was bid up to an incredible $30,000, while a star of the entire Connecticut series, one of only two known 1787 Miller 1.4-WW with Liberty Seated Facing Right (this one graded F12 by PCGS), brought $99,000.
Die variety collecting in the Vermont coppers series has seen a resurgence in recent years, a trend that was on display in the sales of the extreme rarities in Martin's complete set of Vermont coppers by die variety. Martin was only the second person to complete a 40-piece die variety set of these coins of the Republic of Vermont, and his extremely rare struck 1785 RR-5 Landscape copper pedigreed to the famed Norweb Collection soared to $132,000, nearly double its previous auction record. One of just two known examples of the 1788 Bust Right RR-33 variety brought $108,000, two and a half times what it last brought at auction in 2015.
Rounding out "The New England Sale" was Martin's front-line collection of 1787 Fugio Cents, the most complete offering by die marriage ever brought to major public auction. Type coins like his 1787 Newman 12-X graded PCGS MS65+RB proved popular, with this particular coin selling for $21,600. His Newman 11-A "United Over States" variant brought $36,000 in an MS64BN (PCGS) encapsulation, a record for this important type at this grade level.
The strong results realized in the first four live auction offerings from the Sydney F. Martin Collection are a fitting tribute to his extraordinary numismatic achievements and contributions to the hobby, as well as a reflection of the diligent efforts of the Stack's Bowers Galleries team. Complete prices realized for the Martin Collection Part IV, as well as the firm's entire August 2023 Global Showcase Auction are available at StacksBowers.com. More information on the Sydney F. Martin Collection can be found on our Featured Collections page.