If you weren’t familiar with the Lord St. Oswald name before, you probably heard it multiple times after one of his 1794 Silver Dollars sold in September 2015 for just under five million dollars.
The Lord St. Oswald pedigree is one of the most legendary in all of numismatics. The name is associated with quality, particularly with reference to early American coins. As a young numismatist, I heard of the Lord St. Oswald pedigree over the years as individual coins appeared and re-appeared on the market. For some reason, my recollection of the story of the Lord St. Oswald coins – either from reading it somewhere or conjuring it up in my dreams – was that the good Lord visited the Mint in 1795, purchased a small group of incredibly high-grade Large Cents, Half Dollars, and Silver Dollars, and stashed them away in a cigar box until their discovery and sale in 1964. Only a part of that legend is true (the coins were indeed of superb quality). The rest, as I mentioned, is myth.
Recently, numismatic researcher David Tripp debunked the conventional wisdom that the coins were acquired by the Lord St. Oswald, based on the fact that the title did not exist until 1885. What Mr. Tripp discovered was that the coins were acquired by William Strickland, an ancestor of Lord St. Oswald, on a trip to the United States from 1794 to 1795. The Strickland coins ended up at Nostell Priory, a country home near Wakefield in West Yorkshire, England, where they remained until their sale 170 years later. The coins were not bouncing about, loose and unprotected, in a cigar box. Rather, the coins were housed in a coin cabinet constructed by Thomas Chippendale, whose name is revered among furniture collectors.
In October 1964, the English auction house of Christie, Manson, and Woods offered 30 United States coins from the Lord St. Oswald Collection. Starting at lot 137, the collection included two 1794 Silver Dollars, three 1795 Silver Dollars, three 1795 Half Dollars, and twenty-two 1794 Large Cents. How these coins were selected for sale in 1964 is unknown, but several coins were left behind, including a 1793 Chain Cent, two High-Relief Head 1794 Half Cents, two more 1794 Large Cents, and a group of mixed Colonial coins in various grades. In 1992, Christie’s sold the extra coins without mentioning the Lord St. Oswald name.
Because the total number of Federal coins in the Strickland/Lord St. Oswald Collection is only thirty-five coins, and because they are – for the most part – so well known, I thought it would be interesting to find out where they are now. What are the “modern” grades and where have they been since 1964 (and 1992)? Some of the answers are unexpected.
In the next installment, we’ll begin looking at the individual coins and revealing some interesting information about them. Stay tuned.
Two weeks ago, I introduced the next generation PCGS holder and it was very well received. Today I’d like to answer some of the questions that were asked about testing, materials, and combatting counterfeiters.
A great photograph can reveal to the eye a great number of secrets that words cannot capture on their own. No truer is this than when it comes to capturing the brilliance of coins. PCGS TrueView is a wonderful add-on that gives you a high-resolution photography of the obverse and reverse of any coin that you send to PCGS for grading. A great picture is beneficial to quality listings when buying or selling, when showcasing your coins in the PCGS Set Registry Digital Coin Album, or for your own creative outlets. For those of you who will be joining us at this June’s Long Beach Expo, I’m pleased to announce that we are offering TrueView at 50% off. If you’ve yet to try it out, this is a great time to try out TrueView. For those of you already in the know, I look forward to seeing you at the Long Beach Expo this June! Learn more about TrueView.
If you are a PCGS Collector Club Member you owe it to yourself to attend at least one of our Members Only shows in Las Vegas. The shows are small and very friendly. Usually 25-30 tables are setup with perhaps a total of 100 dealers and collectors in the room. However, the volume of buying and selling rivals most major shows. The Members Only Show is compact but very powerful. We offer special rates on rooms for all the attendees and lots of amenities. Check our Members Only Show, you owe it to yourself (your spouse won’t mind being dragged along on this coin trip!). Members Only Show
I am contemplating the Pogue collection, which will start selling in May, and the Kendall collection, which sells this week. These are marvelous collections that will be difficult to repeat, let alone improve on. What is common to both is the great length of time they took to build. Both were built slowly, year after year, carefully choosing coins that would complement what was already in place. A great collection cannot be built overnight, no matter how much money you have. But isn’t that what collecting is all about? The many hours that both collectors spent assembling these great collections were the true pleasure of owning these coins.
One of the questions that we are frequently asked is, “How do I submit my coins to PCGS for grading?” Well, submitting coins to PCGS for authentication and grading is easier than you may think. In this week’s short video, we present the options available to collectors in an easy to understand format. It only takes a minute to check it out, so what are you waiting for?
In today’s world we are always on the go. If you are like me your mobile phone is your constant companion and keeps you connected to what’s going on. PCGS has developed four mobile apps that help keep you connected to your coins. Easy to download and simple to use, these applications offer a tremendous amount of information that was unthinkable just a few short years ago. With our mobile apps you have immediate access to virtually all of the information that can be found on PCGS.com. Check out our mobile apps at www.pcgs.com/apps.
It’s only February but it’s already been an exciting year for the PCGS Set Registry! At the FUN show we introduced the new SHOP function, which allows Set Registry participants to quickly and easily shop virtually every PCGS graded coin listed on the Internet. Later in January at the Long Beach Expo, we introduced the Digital Coin Album. This is a fun concept that has been quickly embraced by many Set Registry participants. The Digital Coin Album is very easy to use and quite powerful in effect!