A $250,000 hoard of key date, late 19th and 20th century coins --most of them previously used to pay New York bus and subway train fares in the 1940's to 1960's -- has been acquired by Littleton Coin Co., Littleton, NH.
The hoard of nearly 23,000 circulated coins includes 241 1916-D and 166 1942/1 overdate Winged Liberty Head ("Mercury") dimes and 19 Type One Standing Liberty quarters.
"This apparently is the largest group of 1916-D and 1942/1 Mercury dimes to hit the market in one transaction," explained Jim Reardon, Littleton's Chief Coin Buyer. "And, normally, I will encounter only one or two 1916 Standing Liberty quarters at a time, so obtaining 19 examples at one time also is most unusual."
Two of the rare quarters grad extremely fine, according to Reardon.
The coins are from the estates of collector and part-time dealer George Shaw of Brooklyn and his brother-in-law, Morris Moscow, who worked for the New York Transit Authority in the 1940's to 1960's.
Moscow and other transit system employees would search through coins used by passengers to pay bus and subway fares, pull out rare pieces and replace them at face value with common coins.
"We're calling this big collection "The New York Subway Hoard,' " said David M. Sundman, Littleton President. "This is one of the most exciting accumulations of coins to come on the market in decades, but then it literally took decades to accumulate them all."
In the mid 1940's, George Shaw advertised in The Numismatic Scrapbook and was among the first to offer for sale the overdate dimes. The 1942/1 errors were first reported in March 1941 and confirmed as authentic two months later. Shaw's first ads selling those coins appeared in the February 1945 issue of The Numismatic Scrapbook.
Littleton began buying coins from the New York Subway Hoard I 1991 with the purchase of $25,000 worth of Barber dimes. Recently, Sundman and Reardon completed the last bulk purchases of the remaining estate items for $137,500, bringing the total purchase over the past five years to more than $250,000.
"When we acquired the items, many of the coins were grouped by denomination, date and mint mark in small New York City Transit Authority 'miscellaneous remittance' envelopes with Shaw's handwriting on the outside indicating the types and quantities of coins held inside," explained Sundman. "Some of them were sitting, undisturbed in those tan-colored envelopes for more than 40 years."
An assortment of the hoard coins and their Transit Authority envelopes will be on display at the Littleton bourse table (#825) during the 105th American Numismatic Association Anniversary Convention in Denver August 14 - 17.
"We'll begin selling the hoard, one coin at a time, to our mailing list customers in the fall," said Sundman.