Monday, August 31, 2009

Coin Monday: “Hey, Stella!”

Aug. 31, 2009
Posted By John Dale

It’s a natural joke, I suppose…

Whenever a stella – or four-dollar pattern coin – comes through the cataloging department, a certain fellow will always crack wise, “Hey, Stella!” None of us catalogers will ever be mistaken for Marlon Brando, but I always chuckle when I hear it, mostly because I can easily appreciate a bad pun done in good fun. That, and it’s a Tennessee Williams joke. Those are impossible to resist…right?
There isn’t A Streetcar Named Desire here in Dallas (the throwback M-Line Streetcar is as close as we come…it’s worth a ride if you ever come down here on a visit to Heritage), but we do have plenty of stellas (not to be confused with Stellas) that pop up here in the office. In our August 2009 Los Angeles U.S. Coin Auction, a bidder paid more than half a million dollars for an extraordinary and extremely rare 1880 Coiled Hair stella.

This time around, in our September 2009 Long Beach U.S. Coin Auction, the stella we’re offering is not so rare as a type; the 1879 Flowing Hair stella is only scarce in an absolute sense, if far more in-demand than the supply could ever hope to satisfy. In terms of quality, however, this astounding PR67 specimen has few rivals.

Few patterns have the amount of associated lore that the various stellas enjoy: Andrew W. Pollock III, in his United States Patterns and Related Issues, notes that originally, just 25 of the 1879 Flowing Hair stellas were made, to be included in three-coin pattern sets to demonstrate the coinage concepts to Congress. The various members showed considerable enthusiasm for the unusual gold patterns, and according to Pollock, another 400 of the Flowing Hair stellas were made. (Other authorities suggest that the Pollock figure, if anything, understates the mintage figures for the restrikes, which were produced in 1880.)

However much the Congressmen of the time liked the stella as a pattern, they showed little love for it as a functional coin, and the bill that would make $4 an official coinage denomination never passed. Yet numismatists continued to show enthusiasm for the stellas, and some scholars believe that additional stellas were struck off at the behest of well-connected coin collectors.

The stellas met many fates; to some, they were interesting but merely decorative objects, as the numerous stellas that were formerly part of jewelry show. Others were lovingly preserved by numismatists. Certainly, a Superb Gem proof such as the stella Heritage is offering benefited from such guardianship in its century-plus of existence. Who will be next in its line of caretakers?
To leave a comment click on the title of the post.

-John Dale Beety

Friday, August 28, 2009

Thoughts on Assorted Japanese Imports

August 28, 2009
Posted by John Beety

Recently, I was shopping in a bookstore when I came across a most unusual display. Then again, considering this was a national chain, perhaps it’s not so unusual. Close to the shelves of manga (Japanese comics, generally sold in the U.S. as translations bound in trade-paperback format) were a variety of other products possibly of interest to the manga purchaser. I came face to face with temptation, in the form of light breadsticks dipped in chocolate.

I was not stronger than the Pocky. I bought a box to take home with me. It didn’t last the night.

Like many others in my generation, I have a taste for imported Japanese popular culture. Video games and manga are two of my particular vices. I’ve previously referenced my fondness for the video game series Final Fantasy, but I also pick up the odd manga title, such as Detective Conan, a mystery series featuring a teen-aged investigator trapped in a first-grader’s body. (It’s marketed in the United States as Case Closed to avoid entanglements with a certain loincloth-wearing barbarian, but Detective Conan sounds cooler.)

Between my interest in things Japanese and my obsession with coins, perhaps it was inevitable that at some point, I would become intrigued by Japanese coinage. Unfortunately, my level of sophistication is not high; I know just enough to realize how little I actually know! That doesn’t stop me from appreciating Japanese coins in my own peculiar way, though.

I was paging through the upcoming Monthly Internet World Coin Auction and came across the sale’s small but intriguing Japanese section. There are several coins from the Ministry of Finance gold auctions; the best American comparison would be the GSA sales of silver dollars, in that a long-term government holding of its coins was offered to the public, though numerous details (method of sale, etc.) were necessarily different.

One of the visual hallmarks of the Ministry of Finance gold coins was a large-format plastic holder, with a deep red insert framing the coin and a tag with serial number and other information also enclosed. Certain dates and denominations were much more heavily represented than others; the Meiji 4 (1871 in the Western calendar) one yen gold was one of the more common dates, and there are three of them in the auction. Among 10 yen gold pieces, Meiji 42 (1909) was also a year with a large stock sold; there’s one in the auction.

A number of Ministry of Finance pieces can also be found in the Japan section of Heritage’s September 2009 Long Beach World Coin Auction. Why not take a look and see if there’s a Japanese import that interests you?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Al Franken penned (and signed) Megaton Man comic art readies for November comics auction

Aug. 27, 2009
Posted by Noah

For the second day in a row I find myself in the political realm, though today it is of a different stripe. If Al Franken is not your thing - and I know there are many that feel that way - then please forgive me. This is strictly a non-partisan lot that I am writing about, and the proceeds are for a good cause.

It's a safe bet that when the original artwork for an introduction to the 2005 re-print of Don Simpson's classic Megaton Man, written by then-comedian-now-senator Al Franken, comes on the block as part of a Nov. 19-20 Vintage Comics and Comic Art Auction at Heritage Auction Galleries, it will be the first time in the history of the nation that the comic book work of a sitting U.S. Senator will be up for auction.

"This is the only time something like this has happened," said Todd Hignite, Consignment Director at Heritage, "which makes it pretty special in the first place, but Franken also waived any fee for the work on the condition that it would be auctioned with all proceeds going to benefit the USO, his favorite charity, the non-profit organization responsible for entertaining American troops."

When Franken was asked by Simpson to write the introduction to the 2005 Megaton Man re-print, which Simpson then sketched, any political aspirations Franken may have been harboring were a closely guarded secret. In this instance, as shown by Franken's signature wry humor, his only agenda was creating something funny and appropriate to Simpson's oafish, endearing character. It is interesting to note, however, that it was shortly after he penned this introduction that he announced his bid for the Minnesota senate seat.

Now, flash forward four years, two election cycles, a six-month court battle and a recount in Minnesota, and Franken is the sitting junior U.S. Senator from Minnesota, has sat on the judiciary panel that helped elect the Supreme Court's first Hispanic and third female justice and is continuing to make history by being the first Senator to be associated with the auctioning-for-charity of original comic art.

"I don't know if this particular instance will end up on the list of monumental achievements in Franken's biography," said Hignite," but you gotta admit it's pretty neat."

The lot consists of five distinct originals, all signed by both Franken and Simpson. The artwork is vintage Simpson, and his caricature of Franken is dead-on. Originally the artwork was supposed to be auctioned off soon after its creation, in 2005, but the process lapsed and, as Franken announced he was running for national office, the consignor decided to put any pending auction further on hold. Four years later, and with Franken's national status considerably elevated, the decision to wait has proved fortuitous. Heritage has guaranteed, in line with Franken's wishes, that 100% of the proceeds from the auction of this artwork will be donated to the USO, including the BP.

"This material would have a fairly wide appeal in normal circumstances," said Hignite. "Now, however, we would expect that appeal to be much stronger and much wider than it was."

To leave a post, click on the title of this post.

-Noah Fleisher

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

RIP Ted Kennedy

Aug. 26, 2009
Posted by Noah

There is, really, only one story today and that's of the passing of Ted Kennedy, The Liberal Lion of the Senate. I wish him Godspeed to his next destination.

Love him or hate him, he was an effective and powerful policy force within the United States, amassed admirers by the ton on both sides of the aisle and is largely seen as the greatest Democratic Senator of the modern era. He was an effective coalition builder, knew when to take a stand and when to back down and he certainly never suffered fools. His ideological enemies demonized him just as, in private, they opened their arms, put politics aside, and declared him a true friend. Surely the world will not see his like again.

Neither am I the first of the day - maybe the millionth - to remind whoever is left to remind that he is the last of the Kennedy brothers, and arguably the most effective. He was an unlikely ninth child who rose to lead the family. He behaved badly, certainly, and was deeply flawed as a man, and he paid a dear professional price for that. He was a lightning rod for controversy, and much of it warranted. He was also quite eloquent. He said of JFK, Jr., at his funeral, that "we always thought that we'd get to see Jack junior live to comb gray hair." It was a powerful statement at a time of great grief and confusion, and it was made more poignant by his own head of thick silver hair.

Still, liberated by his loss to Carter in the 1980 Democratic primary, Ted was set free to become one of the most productive and well-liked senators this nation has ever known. I lived in Massachusetts for two years when I was an antiques editor, and I saw how beloved he was in a state that, against all outward appearances, isn't as liberal as you might initially reckon. Still, the Ted Kennedy senate seat was a given. They loved their senator even as, the further west you went in the state, disagreement with his policies deepened. If ever the senate knew a politician capable of uniting disparate interests, it was Kennedy.

As you might imagine, there has been and will always be, a brisk trade in JFK memorabilia at Heritage, but there has not been a tremendous amount of Ted Kennedy. There is a lot of letters from himself and Eunice, as well as his autograph on a headshot in two different groupings. In all instances, the prices didn't exceed $75, a real bargain now, because anything with his signature on it is now likely worth double (just my own personal estimate).

It seems that this summer has seen the passing of more giants of the 20th century than any period before it. Walter Cronkite, Michael Jackson, Les Paul among so many, and now Ted Kennedy. I hew very close to the center politically, so his passing does not charge me up politically one way or the other.

As a person who tries his best to live a life focused on compassion and understanding, however, I do indeed deeply mourn the loss of a man who cared so greatly about the well-being of his fellow Americans. Like I said, love him or hate him, you have to give him respect.

To leave a comment, unless it's political, click on the title of this post.

-Noah Fleisher

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Heritage Collector's Corner: How a collector is made

Aug. 25
Posted by Anonymous

(Welcome back to Heritage's Collector's Corner, our ongoing reader-submitted entries about the genesis of their own collecting passion. Today's story is actually quite moving in how it shows the power that coins and a sharp mind, in combination, can have. Even more, however, it shows the deep and abiding influence a loved one can have on planting the seed of collecting. In this case a very special grandfather gives the idea to a very smart kid. These make me wish I had been half as erudite when I was a child, and makes me wish a member of my family, any member, had had similar impulses and the desire to guide me through the vast journey of collecting. You can't cry over what you never had, however, so you won't catch me losing sleep over it. Instead, I intend to live vicariously through the writer of this post, and to enjoy his story progressively more each time I read it. - Noah Fleisher)

It started in the fall of 1964, I found a large round thing in the street in front of the vacant house two doors down. My mom and dad could not tell me what it was, but mom said that Grandpa would know, as he had been collecting coins for more than 25 years, but that we wouldn't see him until Christmas.

I remembered to take my coin with me to show grandpa and to ask what it was, but I forgot all about it as soon as we got to my grandparents house and found out I had several gifts under the tree. After lunch grandpa was telling my mom and dad that, starting in Jan 1965, dimes and quarters would no longer be made of silver and that we need to start saving as many as we could, because they would be worth way more than the new coins.

I then remembered my coin. I took it to Grandpa and said that I was a coin collector like him. After everyone stopped laughing, Grandpa said I had found a large cent from England, and it was worth about a nickel.

I was asked by Grandma if I really wanted to be a coin collector. When I said "yes," she gave me some wheat pennies to start me off. The oldest was from 1919 her birth year.

Three days later they came up to our house for my birthday. I got two $1 bills and two silver dimes. My parents said I had to give one to my sister, since all she got for her birthday was two similar $1 bills.

With my 25 cent weekly allowance, and my birthday money, by spring I finally reached $5 in non-silver money. I went with mom to the bank and got a roll of dimes. At home I separated the silver from the copper, then started the whole process over again.

In the fall of 1965 I started school and, after I got to know my friends, told them - with my 40 cent a day lunch money - that I would pay 15 cents for their silver dimes with a man on it, and 20 cents if it had a woman on it (mercury dimes), plus one item off their tray at lunch. I did this for six years and only got caught once.

By 1970 no one could get any silver. In 1972, at church, I found out that the visiting preacher was a coin collector. He told me that silver dimes were worth about 50 cents and that silver quarters were worth about a dollar.

I told him that my collection was worth about $5,000.

What I didn't know was that my dad overheard me.

That night he came into my room, with his belt already folded in his hand, and asked why I would lie to the preacher and his wife. So I had to go and pull out all my jars of silver.

The next day Grandpa came over and verified for my parents what I had in my jars. When they asked where I got the idea to collect from, I said it was from Grandpa, on Christmas day, 1964.

My parents have taken my coin collecting seriously since then.

To leave a comment, click on the title of this post. To submit your story, email to

Monday, August 24, 2009

Coin Monday: "And now, a word from our designer…”

Aug. 24, 2009
Posted by John Dale

In the history of coinage, few designs have been as enduring as the portrait of Lincoln on the obverse of the cent.

While it has gone through a series of minor changes — no coin image could hope to last a century without details getting flattened out, touched up, strengthened, worn away, and so on — the essence of the Lincoln cent’s obverse in 2009 remains what it was in 1909: the bearded portrait of President Lincoln still faces right, faintly smiling, wearing a bow tie and coat.

The Lincoln portrait is the work of Victor David Brenner, a medalist born in present-day Lithuania who took his formal training in the West, starting in the New York City area (where a still-teenaged Brenner first arrived in the United States) and later in France. As a mature artist, Brenner established a studio in New York City and increased his already-considerable reputation for artistry. While his small-scale works such as medals and plaques brought him considerable fame in his lifetime, today his reputation endures largely because of his association with the Lincoln cent.

His studio was at 20 East 8th Street in New York City (FYI, when I was a young man I actually worked at a cafe' at 18 East 8th Street, not knowing I was mere inches away from numismatic history - Noah Fleisher), as noted on his business card, a copy of which Heritage is offering in its September 2009 Long Beach U.S. Coin Auction. What makes this particular card so appealing is the handwritten message from Brenner on the back: Please accept this / as a momento [sic] of / the pleasant eve / I spent with you. / With best greeting, / V. D B.

It’s a fascinating glimpse into Brenner’s day-to-day life, albeit one that poses more questions than it answers. Who was the recipient? Where did they meet? When was the note written? What was the memento? Why do so many artists have such terrible handwriting? (Not that I have much room to judge, considering the chicken-scratches I’ve inflicted on various teachers and professors over the years…)

While it’s impossible to answer any of those questions definitively (barring some dramatic revelation by a scholar of Victor David Brenner business card styles), this is the sort of note that invites speculation, and considering Brenner’s understandable pride in the Lincoln cent, he may well have used one as a small but meaningful gift to a favored acquaintance. An example of the 1909 VDB cent, so named because it features the designer’s initials at the bottom of the reverse, is included with the card.

This lot would make a great complement to a set of Lincoln cents or an intriguing addition to a collection of artists’ handwritten documents. If you’re looking to buy it, though, I’ll give you a bit of a heads-up: I want it too, and I’ve already placed my bid…

To leave a comment, click on the title of this post.

-John Dale Beety

Friday, August 21, 2009

Pride & Joy: Celebrating Stevie Ray, Dallas's greatest guitarist

Aug. 21, 2009
Posted by Noah

Growing up in Dallas, loving live music and great musicians as much as I do, there was no way to get around Stevie Ray Vaughan. Who would want to? He was, and ever will be, the greatest modern Texas bluesman to pick up a guitar, any guitar, period. When he died, so unfairly, in 1990, at the age of 36, there can be no doubt that one of the 10 greatest guitarists to ever live has left our midst. In fact, Rolling Stone listed him as #7...

I mention this as Stevie Ray had been on my mind lately, not the least of which was remembering a couple shows I had seen when I was a teenager, because I have been listening to Soul II Soul a lot in recent weeks and because, as I sat on the couch last night unable to sleep due to a very annoying sinus infection, I came across a Stevie Ray tribute being shown on the local PBS affiliate as part of its current fund drive - be sure and pledge - and needless to say, the channel did not change for two hours.

Not only was the music great - no surprise there - but watching the varied performances from Stevie Ray throughout the 1980s, from hotshot kid to fully mature, fully in-control blues genius, was riveting. He lived with every night, swooned with sweeping and bending notes and sang with the weight of a 100-year-old man. Watching him play some classic shows and classic tunes brought him fully back to life, ecstatically so, just as it drove home what a potent force we lost almost two decades ago. I know I had learned it long before, but watching Stevie do his thing, so effortlessly, with such jaw-dropping skill,the intermittent unfairness of existence was driven home like a nail in my skull.

All this, naturally, was perfect fodder for me to go to the Heritage archives to see what kind of Stevie Ray Vaughan things had crossed the block in our auctions, and I wasn't disappointed. There aren't any guitars, or one of his signature hats, but there are great variety of autographs, posters, pictures and even some LPs, which, if you're born post 1980, are big, flat round vinyl things that music is actually embedded into, and not digitally!

The top SRV lot actually comes from last June's Music and Entertainment auction and is a beautiful poster from his last Austin, TX gig, just a few months before his death - he was playing with the one and only Buddy Guy(!), if you can imagine the sheer awesomeness of that combination. You can see by the picture here that it is indeed a beautiful piece, and relatively inexpensive at just more than $1,550. It's the sort of poster that will only gain in value and beauty over the years, especially as history puts Stevie Ray, and his greatness, in perspective.

It may seem incongruous, but if you're ever feeling bad, and want to feel better, then put on a little Stevie Ray Vaughan - I suggest "Cold Shot" or "Texas Flood" - and I guarantee you'll feel better in a few minutes, depending on the version you are listening to.

Have a good weekend, and if you're in Dallas, and can catch a replay of the SRV tribute, clear your schedule, and your mind, for the next couple of hours. You ain't going nowhere.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The nuance of Bookplates: The more important the name, the more value attached…

Aug. 20, 2009
Posted by Joe

Serious book collectors are often condition conscious, as are astute and sophisticated collectors across all venues.

When playing the book collecting game, however, the two biggest factors are the condition of the binding and the condition of the text itself. The cleaner, brighter, and less worn the copy, the better, of course. I recently had a discussion with a serious new book collector about a certain condition factor associated with rare books, and thought I might share the crux of our discourse.

The issue was simple, and to some, probably boring, but I don't judge... Anyway, the central question was, "Is it a good thing or a bad thing to have some previous owner's bookplate pasted into a rare book?"

My answer to this question was, well, yes. It can be a good thing or bad thing. To me, it all depends on the particular bookplate in the particular book. The hierarchy of bookplate desirability seems to me to be threefold.

For the purposes of our story today, let's take a handsome first edition of Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Universally considered Twain's best work, a great American novel, and in the upper echelon of worldwide literary importance, the first printing of the first edition of ol' Tom Sawyer's comrade is also quite valuable to collectors.

Now, suppose that you open that first edition copy and see Mark Twain's bookplate glued to the front pastedown. Actually, you would see a bookplate reading "This BOOK belongs to SAMUEL CLEMENS Hannibal, MO" but let's not split hairs... Same person. Anyway, what you would have there would be, in the words of Family Guy's Peter Griffin, a freakin' sweet book! Twain's bookplate on one of his own books indicates that it was his own personal copy from his own library (usually). Thus, you have a unique first edition of Huck Finn, the author's copy, and a highly desirable rare book.

Also unique but of somewhat lesser value would be a copy of Huck Finn containing the bookplate of, say, another famous writer, personality, public figure, or celebrity. If Theodore Roosevelt's bookplate were affixed to the book, then you have a more desirable copy of Huck Finn. The bookplate adds value to the book, though how much value is difficult to quantify. Let's just say that a book dealer would hype TR's bookplate for all its worth as a major selling point of the book.

Public figures are not the only book people who can add value with their bookplate. Often, if a famous or well-respected collector has seen fit to put his or her bookplate inside a rare volume, such a strategy will also add value, for a couple of reasons:

One, book collectors sometimes collect books from other collectors. Also, a previous bookman's bookplate identifies the particular copy at hand, adding a level of provenance and trustworthiness to the book not necessarily present in other copies. We have at least two examples of this type of bookplate in our upcoming October 15-16 Rare Books Auction #6030. First, we have a first edition of Arthur Conan Doyle's The Sign of Four with the bookplate of famed collector H. Bradley Martin, whose library was sold at a highly-publicized auction in 1989. Second, we have a beautiful first edition of Charles Dickens' The Cricket on the Hearth with esteemed bibliophile A. Edward Newton's 1909 bookplate affixed to the front pastedown. In both cases, the bookplates might not seem to add much to the books, but to serious collectors, it really does matter.

The third level of bookplate desirability, and FAR lower down the curve than the first two instances mentioned above, is the situation where a "nobody" has glued his or her bookplate down on a rare book.

If I were ever lucky enough to have a first edition of Huck Finn left to me in a will (the only way I'd ever be able to afford one), and I wanted to gently devalue the book immediately, one of the best things I could do was glue my bookplate onto the front free endpaper… See, book collectors don't care about me (Yes they do, Joe! They do! -Noah). I'm not A. Edward Newton, Theodore Roosevelt, or Mark Twain. So, if a book collector finds my bookplate in a book he wants, he's likely to want to pay less for it because of what I've done. I've basically glued an eyesore into the book.

Bookplates are much like a previous owner's signature or inscription in a book. A first edition of Huck Finn signed by Mark Twain is awesome; one signed by me is just sad. Unless you collect books signed by me, and that just makes you sad…

To leave a comment, click on the title of this post.

-Joe Fay

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Tale of Two Tails, Revisited

August 19, 2009
Posted by John Dale

Our Blogger-in-Chief, Noah Fleisher, is a trifle indisposed today, so he allowed me to fill in for him on the blog, after a good deal of my waving and yelling “Put me in, coach!” (Make sure to leave him a get-well message in the comments section!)

Back in mid-June, I blogged about two-headed and two-tailed coins, covering topics such as the two-tailed Washington quarter and the two-headed (if not identically two-headed) Lewis and Clark commemorative gold dollars, of which we have a few in our upcoming September 2009 Long Beach U.S. Coin Auction.

There’s another fascinating error in the auction, though, a two-tailed coin that comes not from the United States, but across the pond: a one euro cent coin struck with two reverse dies, graded MS63 Red by NGC. It’s an odd little coin, even more mysterious than the average two-headed or two-tailed coin (and that’s saying something).

First of all, nobody knows where exactly it was made or when. Because this is a coin with two reverses, each side shows the “universal” reverse that is common to every coin in the one euro cent denomination, rather than the country-specific obverse. Thus, any country in the Eurozone that struck the denomination could have been its source.

Moreover, because the reverse design was static for a number of years, there is no date either, (though NGC not-so-helpfully suggests a date range from 2000 to 2007, which manages to exclude only a couple of years of coinage for the denomination). There’s just so little information to go on that its place and time of origin likely will never be traced.

The two sides, though identical in design, can be distinguished in a fashion. On the obverse—scratch that, on the side that is aligned with the front side of the coin’s holder—there is a small toning spot on one of the lines below the globe. On the other side, there is no spot in the area. Similarly, the areas of toning found elsewhere do not sync up.

Still, this euro cent error has induced plenty of double-takes, even among veteran numismatists. Whatever happens to it after the auction, whether it goes on to become part of a comprehensive error collection or simply settles down as a fascinating pocket-piece, it will command attention.

To leave a comment (or get-well wishes for Noah), click on the title of this post.

-John Beety

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Once in a lifetime moments everyday... All part of the job at Heritage

Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Posted by Noah

As you can see by the pictures in this post, and by comments I have made in previous entries, Heritage is an amazing place to work if you have any sense of Pop Culture and/or history. Just look at the picture next to this graph.

That's one of our top comics experts, Greg Holman, holding not one, but two copies of Superman #1. That's about $100,000 worth of comic books. I'm willing to bet that most collectors will never even see a Superman #1, let alone hold one, let alone pose with two... And I would be remiss if I told you that I didn't pick them up, among others, myself.

Right before I snapped this quick pick of Greg he actually said just what I wrote. He grabbed them, looking down at them with admiration...

"Stay right there," I said. "Hold up those books."


One of the beauties of running PR here at Heritage is that I do indeed get to get close up and personal with any number of amazing pieces, Be they coins, currency, posters, comics, natural history, Space Exploration, instruments, Americana... You name it, and it's likely that I've been lucky enough to come in close contact with it, and have shortened those degrees of separation between myself and major figures in history and/or Pop Culture... Yep, that's right... Ol' George Washington and I - I like to call him GW for short - we're like this...

I hope that I never ever get jaded - so far so good - because it would be a crying shame given the amazing amount of great stuff in this building... I am indeed a lucky man...

The other picture you see here is the main group of value from last week's comics auction, all told at least $250,000. Again, for so many it would be a dream to simply be in the presence of one of them, forget being able to set them up and group them together for a photo while a local TV crew shot footage for the six o'clock news. Alas, I do not get to take them home, but I do still get to bask in their glory, and - on this day, at this time of life - that's more than enough.

As Bizarro Superman might say: Life am good.

To leave a comment, click on the title of this post.

-Noah Fleisher

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Half Disme Memory

Aug. 17, 2009
Posted by John Dale

Back in 2001, at the World’s Fair of Money held that year in Atlanta, Georgia, I was the 16-year-old headliner on one of the five teams participating in the year’s World Series of Numismatics, grown-up edition. (There was also a Young Numismatists edition, but I’d signed up for the adult version first, and that was where I stayed.) My goal going in was to not embarrass myself, and at the time, I didn’t; by getting third place out of five teams, at a minimum I acquitted myself.

As for not embarrassing myself now – not so much.

I haven’t gone back to watch the tape (I think it’s somewhere in the ANA video library, though I’m not sure) but if it exists I want to see it, and yet I don’t. I don’t remember how brash, or how snarky, or how… teenager I was, and now part of me never wants to find out. I did pull at least one good memory out of it, though, so here goes!

The moderator asked me a question that I thought was very simple. Doubtless there was far more nuance to the wording than I remember, but the gist of it was: “In what year was the first United States coinage struck?”

Oh, this one is easy, I thought. “1793.”

The moderator told me I was incorrect, and that the answer was 1792. Ahem…did he just say my answer of 1793 was wrong? I went on the counterattack, noting that the Chain cent dated to 1793 and thus my answer was correct.

There was a response from an audience member (I won’t name him since I haven’t asked his permission to do so, but suffice it to say, he knew his stuff and still does!). The half disme of 1792 was the first U.S. coinage, so I was wrong.

"But, but…that shouldn’t count! That’s not a real coin!"

We ended up going back-and-forth until the exasperated moderator tossed out the question and asked me another.

Which of us was right? Should the half disme (pronounce it as deem, think of it as dime) “count”? It depends on whom one asks, and how one puts the question. Were they used as money in practice? The fact that most examples are worn, including the Choice VF one coming up in the September 2009 Long Beach U.S. Coin Auction, suggests that they were indeed used that way.

Were they regular-issue coins? Their inclusion as patterns in the Judd reference suggests no, even though the 10th edition update of Judd states that they “circulated widely as regular issues” and calls the 1792 half disme “most assuredly a coin made for general circulation.” If one believes that a U.S. coin has to be struck at the U.S. Mint, then no, the 1792 half dismes, which were minted on private property, would not count. It all depends on how the question is asked and what the question wants.

There’s little question what collectors want, though – they want 1792 half dismes, regardless of grade. Our April 2006 Central States Signature® Auction bears this out: a holed VG details example brought $14,950 including Buyer’s Premium, while the Specimen 67 representative set a record at $1,322,500. When the Choice VF example on offer at Long Beach comes up for auction, it will fall between those two extremes, but where? Attending the auction, whether on the floor, as a telephone bidder, or via Heritage LIVE!, is the best way to find out!

To leave a comment click on the title of this post.

-John Dale Beety

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Les Paul is dead, long live Les Paul! Innovator, player and inventor of the electric guitar

Aug. 13, 2009
Posted by Noah

Les Paul is dead at the age of 94. If you know anything about rock and roll, country or guitar music in general, then you are pondering the life of one of modern music's greatest innovators right now as news is breaking of the death of the one, the only, Les Paul.

I think I can say, unequivocally, that Les was the most influential guitarist, innovator and technician of the 20th Century. What else would you say about the man who not only invented the electric guitar - at least in the form we understand it today - as well as the multi-track recording system? That's right, nothing! Les was a guitarist's guitarist, and a gentleman's gentleman. His fleet-fingered stylings influenced the way that several generations of great guitarists play their instruments, the way countless musicians record their music and certainly what the top musicians in the world came to expect from their instruments.

Let's put it this way: When Clapton locked himself in his room for months in the 1960s to become the ultimate Guitar God, what kind of guitar do you think he had? Of course: A Gibson Les Paul. If you've ever heard one played, and played well, then you know that the sound is superior and you know why the very best always insist on a Les.

There are Les Paul guitars autographed by various musicians, and Paul himself, throughout our archives. It's no coincidence, thought, that the top-selling Les Paul guitar in the Heritage archives is not an autographed axe, but rather a 1961 Gibson Les Paul SG, one of the original solid body guitars that dropped the "Les Paul" designation for most of the rest of the 1960s before picking it up again. No autograph, just plain ol' amazing craftsmanship that brought more than $22,000 in October of 2007.

You can read all about Paul's life and innovations in any number of online outlets right now, so I won't go into a tremendous amount of detail. It's not surprising when a man of his advanced age passes, but it is right to honor a life decidedly well lived. He was a legend and will remain so throughout the history of pop culture. The world will not soon see his ilk again.

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-Noah Fleisher

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Eunice Kennedy Shriver: A numismatic legacy to accompany the Special Olympics

Aug. 12, 2009
Posted by John Dale

Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the seemingly tireless social campaigner who became best known for her association with the Special Olympics, died yesterday at age 88.

Throughout her life she accrued numerous honors, including a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1984. Beyond any personal interactions with her — and the number of people her work has touched is incalculable — numismatists have noted her for a different honor, one included in the obituaries published by a variety of news sources, including CNN: in 1995, her portrait appeared on a commemorative coin, a silver dollar dated 1995 designed to raise money for the Special Olympics. She was the first woman to appear on a U.S. coin during her lifetime.

Her appearance on the Special Olympics dollar was controversial in its time and remains so even today. By tradition, living persons do not appear on U.S. coinage. In 1866, a law was passed that prohibited the printing of a living person on U.S. “currency,” but this has been interpreted to mean strictly paper money and not all “current money” of the United States.

Only a handful of people had appeared on U.S. coins before Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Thomas E. Kilby, governor of Alabama during that state’s centennial, was the first, with his portrait appearing on a commemorative half dollar in 1921. President Calvin Coolidge followed in 1926, as did Senator Carter Glass of Virginia, whose hometown of Lynchburg received a commemorative half dollar in 1936. The last to be so honored before Eunice Kennedy Shriver was Senator Joseph T. Robertson of Arkansas, who appeared on Arkansas-themed half dollars that were struck in 1937 but dated 1936.

Opponents of the Special Olympics dollar, and particularly the portrait of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, argued against it. There was the argument from tradition, that a living person should not have the honor of appearing on a coin, though when one considers that she had already received the nation’s highest official civilian award more than a decade earlier, she had a strong case to be an exception to the rule.

The argument from alleged revisionist history stated that calling Eunice Kennedy Shriver “Founder” of the Special Olympics unfairly slighted Anne McGlone Burke, though this argument dismisses the idea that more than one person could have been instrumental in the creation of the Special Olympics, and there is little doubt that Eunice Kennedy Shriver was one of its great motive forces.

The argument about nepotism was a bit thornier, in that her nephew, United States Representative Joseph F. Kennedy II, sponsored the bill creating the Special Olympics dollar and shepherded it through the House. There was also the argument from aesthetics; in both 1995 and more recent years, collectors and critics have kvetched about the portrait on the dollar, with criticism of it as “unflattering” being common. Her unintentional numismatic legacy is that later coin legislation, such as that authorizing the Statehood quarters and the Presidential dollars, specified that living persons could not appear in designs.

For all the arguments and complaints, though, the Special Olympics dollar was struck and coin history was made. Even though the Special Olympics dollars were not especially popular at the time of issue, they have picked up some luster recently; in Heritage’s August 2009 Los Angeles U.S. Coin Auction, we offered a pair of Special Olympics dollars rated as being in perfect condition by PCGS, with the MS70 coin bringing $276 and the PR70 Deep Cameo coin realizing $322. Eunice Kennedy Shriver may have passed, but with her appearance on the Special Olympics dollar, her memory achieved coinage immortality.

To leave a comment, please click on the title of this post.

-John Dale Beety

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

More Moran in Martignette, lest you forget...

Aug. 11, 2009
Posted by Noah

Just in case you had finally started to get over the shivers and shakes that accompanied the abrupt stoppage of steady streams of illustration art news and images that were coming out of Heritage about a month ago with the kick-off of the Martignette Estate, never fear!

As we speak, Heritage experts are hard at work getting the next grouping of Martignette's amazing collection ready for auction this October, and you can bet there are a whole mess of absolute doozies!

Yes, there will be Elvgren and Vargas and Rockwell and Leyendecker and the parade of giants you might expect of this legendary collection, but there is also a whole host of great stuff from mid-tier artists, including a painting from Earl Moran, pictured above, that is - at least in my humble opinion - absolutely one of the most stunning paintings of any era or kind I have ever seen. Period.

I don't mean to call Moran a mid-tier artist, because he was a celebrity in his day, and his paintings were a staple of Brown & Bigelow and sold millions of copies. He was also very well loved by Hollywood celebrities, was trained by some of the best teachers of the day and, famously not only painted a young Norma Jean several times, was also a good friend of the doomed starlet. In fact, the future Marilyn Monroe said that Moran often made her look better than she actually did. That is, of course, impossible, but it's a nice thing for her to say...

This Moran painting, Evening Glow, is a singular masterpiece to be sure, and will likely well exceed its early estimate of $20,000-$25,000. It is simply pure genius. Moran's mastery of subject, form and color culminate in this superb painting. You would have to search very hard, very wide to find a comparable usage of color so in-depth, so evocative and so specific to the period from which it evolved. If I had the money it would be going home with me, no doubt...

Let this be a tease to you, then, and an anodyne to salve the hurt left by the gap between Illustration Art auctions. Never fear - and I say this more for myself than for anyone - more Martignette is on its way!

To leave a comment click on the title of this post.

-Noah Fleisher

Monday, August 10, 2009

One of 20: A Proof Gold Story

Aug. 10, 2009
Posted by John Dale

“This issue has a mintage of only 20 pieces.”

That’s a sentence that can get a collector’s heart racing. Just 20 pieces… the number is so tiny, especially compared to the millions upon millions of coins struck every year, that it’s almost unfathomable how so few examples could be made. Yet in the context of the U.S. proof gold coinage of the 19th century, mintages in the double digits are the norm. Rarity itself is commonplace.

When years can pass between appearances of a single issue at auction, it takes a near-heroic level of dedication (not to mention a hefty bank account) to assemble a complete set of any proof gold series. Thus, while the prices for coins such as proof Liberty double eagles may be in the tens of thousands of dollars, those prices would be much higher if the series enjoyed greater popularity.

Among the proof Liberty double eagles struck in 1859 and after, four dates—the 1874, 1875, 1877, and 1878—tied for the lowest mintage, at just 20 specimens each. In its September 2009 Long Beach U.S. Coin Auction, Heritage will offer an example of the proof 1877 double eagle, graded PR58 Cameo by NGC.

Being one of just 20 pieces struck (and one of just 10 to 12 of them to survive, according to recent estimates by Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth) is itself an impressive story, but there’s more to this proof coin than just a low mintage. The key lies in its grade: PR58 Cameo. Proof coins are meant for display, not commerce. In theory, they should not acquire wear. Yet this proof’s grade of PR58 Cameo falls outside the 60-to-70 numeric range that indicates a coin is not worn. What happened to it?

Close examination shows a number of contact marks, as well as some disturbance of the mirror finish in the fields. It’s possible that this was simply a proof that was mishandled by a previous owner. There is another, more resonant possibility: the coin might have been spent. The $20 face value of this proof in 1877 would be equivalent to several hundred dollars in today’s money, and it’s easy to imagine a family desperate for funds spending some of those proofs, particularly the ones with the highest face values.

It was a scene that played out many times, especially during financial panics such as the one in 1893. Proof coins of virtually all dates are known with a degree of wear. Yet almost inevitably, such coins left circulation almost as soon as they entered; while those experiencing hard times spent the proofs, others saved them for themselves, ultimately saving those proofs for today’s numismatic community.

Of course, not every proof gold collector is interested in impaired proofs. In that case, we have a very nice Superb Gem Ultra Cameo proof 1891 double eagle to sell you…

To leave a comment click on the title of this post.

-John Dale Beety

Friday, August 7, 2009

John Hughes, influential 1980s writer, director and Gen-X giant, dead at 59

Aug. 7, 2009
Posted by Noah

I certainly would never intend to do Hollywood obits two days in a row, but the announcement yesterday about the untimely demise, at the tender age of 59, of writer and director John Hughes caught me off guard. It has, like the death the day before of Budd Schulberg, made front page news across the Web, TV, radio and most any outlet you can think of, and it's definitely a bit of a shocker.

John Hughes? Really? Really? John Hughes?

I was, without question, a teenager of the 1980s, the direct audience of John Hughes' seminal teen comedies. I remember seeing 16 Candles at Prestonwood Mall here in Dallas, and I remember seeing The Breakfast Club at the movie theater in Sakowitz Plaza, just across the street from Prestonwood. Those North Dallas classics are long gone, as is Mr. Hughes, and with all of them go one more piece of my misspent, though entertaining, youth.

If, 25 years later, Hughes' teen comedies ring a bit cheesy, it's of no matter - they are still infinitely watchable, at least to most of Gen-X. His tales of misfits and miscreants, all on an eternal quest for love, sex and understanding - not necessarily in that order - are timeless and, as Molly Ringwald, as Claire, says in The Breakfast Club, "We're all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that's all."

Well said, and certainly true of most of us who came of age in the confusing go-go 1980s, a generation out of place if ever there was one.

There is also some John Hughes history here at Heritage, though it did not fare as well at auction as it did at the box office. While Hughes' movies made hundreds of millions of dollars, so far the prices on posters, lobby cars and signed stills from his move have yet to break the three figure range, though I have a feeling that is probably going to change right now. The top lot is a Ferris Beuller's Day Off poster, which brought $74 just 10 days ago. Good call, for sure. There are a few autographed posters, and a very cool signed photo by the cast of The Breakfast Club, which brought $40 two years ago and would certainly go for more today.

It should also be said that Hughes had a wonderful gift for music in his movies, for mixing old and new and for capturing the not-quite-so mainstream side of 1980s new wave music. While I gravitated a little more to the punk rock side of things during the Hughes heyday, I did always have a weak spot for several of the bands he used to excellent effect in his movies, particularly Simply Red's Don't You Forget About Me from The Breakfast Club, The Thompson Twins' If You Were Here in 16 Candles, and most effectively the now seminal Pretty In Pink, from the movie of the same name, from one of my favorite 1980s bands, The Psychedelic Furs, which was a less experimental version of the pioneering and still awesome 1980s outfit Bauhaus (If you're a fan of the band then I need say nothing more).

Hughes' lasting legacy will most likely be the Home Alone movies (which I always remember by the French title, Maman, J'ai Rate L'avion, because it was released while I was a student in Paris. It means "Mom, I missed the airplane!) and perhaps the screenplay for National Lampoon's Vacation. To me, his lasting legacy will be that he made a generation of so-so young actors famous and got excellent performances out of them even though their talent was not that deep - for the most part. Think about it, who of his Brat Pack has really gone on to lasting cinematic glory? Not a one of his regulars… that doesn't count Matthew Broderick or Kevin Bacon, of course, who were in only one film of his apiece.

Yes, this early Dallas Friday morning, as the sun is coming up, the hot water is making the pipes in the kitchen clank and my daughter stirs in her room and I hear her whispering to her stuffed dog, Coo, I am keenly aware as a piece of my youth skitters into the abyss even as it sings Don't You Forget About Me.

To leave a comment click on the title of this post.

-Noah Fleisher

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Budd Schulberg, wrote 'On The Waterfront,' dead at 95

Aug. 6, 2009
Posted by Noah

It's not a bad epitaph, really: Budd Schulberg, writer, wrote one of the most famous lines in cinema history, "I coulda been a contender."

It's not exactly front page news when a screenwriter dies, even a good one - it takes a legend to make major publications and media outlets to give it significant space and attention. If Budd Schulberg ever had any worries, which I doubt he did, then they are eased. When he sat down to write a little script about violence and corruption among longshoreman, he created one of the most memorable characters in cinematic history, and - as written above - a line that is right up there with the most famous in the whole history of cinema.

The movie, On The Waterfront. The character, Terry Malloy, was played by none other than Brando, the very best actor of his generation, and the line, in its entirety is as follows:

TERRY: I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody. Instead of a bum, which is what I am.

Gut-wrenching, even now, and an amazing bit of writing. Those acid, self-loathing words, spoken by Brando to Rod Steiger, assured Schulberg of immortality. It is a line that has been quoted and re-quoted so many times that there are probably hundreds of thousands of people who have no idea what its original context was. If you're one of them, then I urge you to rent it right away and take notes. On The Waterfront is what real drama is all about - expert storytelling. Get that in line and all the rest will follow. There are few dramas of the last 50 years that can even hold a candle to this masterpiece.

Schulberg has also done pretty well at Heritage, as testified to by the steady prices for On The Waterfront movie posters, the most valuable of which is the Italian version. The top example, from back in 2005, brought nearly $3,000. A contender indeed…

Schulberg was born the son of a Hollywood producer. He was a child of privilege in the Great Depression, and it wore on him keenly. He lived in luxury while so many starved and, as a young man on a trip to the Soviet Union, he was inspired to join the American Communist Party. He hewed to its beliefs for several years before finally growing disenchanted with the dogma of the party, especially when it pressured him to tailor his writing to party lines. When called before the notorious senator Eugene McCarthy in 1951, and his tyrannical House Un-American Activities Committee, he named names of other Hollywood communists, most notably Ring Lardner, Jr.

It wasn't Schulberg's best moment, but he escaped the lasting tarnish that befell fellow communist and fellow whistle blower Elia Kazan, whose genius as a director was always shadowed, if not eclipsed, by his finger pointing before the HUAAC. It's almost quaint now, when you think about it… At least America had a monolithic enemy in the former USSR, but I digress…

Schulberg was also the author of a scathing 1941 book about Hollywood greed and ambition (I know, I know: In Hollywood? Say it ain't so!) called What Makes Sammy Run. It got him in hot, but not deep water, and allowed him to continue on with the rest of his very interesting life, which also included collaborating with F. Scott Fitzgerald and taking part in the arrest of Nazi filmmaker Leni Reifenstahl.

Truly a giant voice in Golden Age Hollywood has now left, leaving so few witnesses to such an important time in American pop culture…

To leave a comment click on the title of this post.

-Noah Fleisher

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Betty or Veronica: Who would you marry? Archie has made his decision...

Aug. 5, 2009
Posted by Noah

This is one of those fundamental questions of pop culture-dom: Who do you prefer, Betty or Veronica? It's right up there with other fundamental personality assessments based in unreality; questions like: Ginger or Maryanne? Which Beatle is your favorite? Which Peanuts Character?

This question - Betty or Veronica? - is one that has been around for almost 70 years and coming up on 600 issues, and it's much deeper than whether your tastes run to blondes or brunettes... Ask which most any man prefers and he'll respond with the ubiquitous: "Yes."

No. This is far beyond that, especially as it's been revealed that in the upcoming 600th issue of the venerable comic title that is Archie that the title character will finally choose between his two ladies and drop to one knee to propose. And let me tell you, the decision has caused no little uproar in the unwashed corners of the blogosphere. Archie will officially propose marriage to wealthy socialite Veronica instead of the blonde girl-next-door Betty.

Now, if you didn't already know that, then you either just crossed your arms and nodded in knowing self-satisfaction, or you shook your head in disbelief and said, "What the What?"

For its part, Heritage is featuring a very rare Archie #1 comic book, in exceptional condition - it is, in fact, the finest copy known - in our upcoming Aug. 14-15 Signature® Comics and Comic Art Auction from Dave Leubke, owner of Dave's Comics in Richmond, VA, who is ostensibly putting it on the block to protest Archie's decision.

“I just feel betrayed,” said Luebke, tongue firmly planted in cheek. “All of these years I have waiting for Archie to man up and realize what a treasure Betty is. Is it the economy? Is Archie’s proposal just for the money? Is Archie really that shallow?”

“I think Dave’s real reason for selling might have something to do with the fact that this comic will sell for thousands of dollars in our auction,” said Barry Sandoval, Comics Division Director of Operations at Heritage.

Yeah, well... Barry's right about that... But it's the principle of the thing, man! The principle! Can someone please get me a principle?!

Archie Comics #1 is considered the first teen comic book. It tells the story of how Archie met Veronica – she’s a Park Avenue debutante and he’s a small-town kid from Riverdale, but he still writes to her to invite her to his prom. It's also interesting to note from the above pictured cover, that the first image of the title that is so well known for its sun, beaches and surfing stories actually has a winter sports scene on its cover. It's actually Archie barrel jumping as his two ladies in waiting watch from the upper left and Jughead, I believe, has slipped on the ice in the upper right, which is nothing compared to frigid fate awaiting Archie as he hovers above a hole in the ice, moments from a freezing fate. (Don't worry, Archie! George Bailey will be right there to pull you out! He'll lose hearing in one ear, but will have a wonderful adventure with an angel years later and you can go on to be a war hero!)

Archie Comics (the title has been known simply as Archie since 1960) is one of only a few series to be in continuous publication since the early 40s.

Now, do I personally have an opinion on Archie's upcoming announcement? Indeed I do, like most any American male, but I first would like to remind everyone getting their knickers in a twist - and there are plenty - that while Archie is proposing, it's not clear yet whether Veronica will actually say yes to the proposal. On the cover of #600 she is saying "Yes," but she's looking at the ring, and not Archie... Mammon or Cupid, indeed... I think she's probably in a clandestine liaison with Reggie... So you can probably suss my opinion: I agree with Luebke. Betty all the way. Veronica is a babe, and obviously smart and cultured, but there's an iciness to her that always gave me pause. She's the one I would choose for a whirlwind romance for a lost month in Manhattan... But if it came to who I would introduce to my parents and friends - based upon my years of reading Archie - there is no doubt it would be Betty. There you have it.

To view the full catalog of the August auction, and to download descriptions and full color hi-res images, go online to the Aug. 14-15 Signature® Comics and Comic Art Auction Catalog.

To leave a comment click on the title of this post.

-Noah Fleisher

Monday, August 3, 2009

Coin Monday: All’s Fair in Love and Key Dates

Aug. 3, 2009
Posted by John Dale

As a cataloger, most of the coins I see are like-new, or at worst, mildly worn. There’s a good reason for that: if a coin is expected to sell for a relatively small amount of money, it doesn’t make sense to put it through the entire process a coin in the floor session of a Signature® auction goes through. The expense of cataloging it, photographing it, and so on would be more than Heritage could make back on its fees. Thus, a well-worn 1857-dated dime wouldn’t cross my desk, but a far more valuable Gem example of the same date might.

This happens for most issues, in that higher-graded coins can be found in a floor session, whereas lower-graded pieces appear in non-floor sessions for example, or one of our Weekly Internet Coin Auctions. There are some dates, however, that are of such high value regardless of grade that they will almost always be hammered down in person. One such date is the 1901-S Barber quarter, and the Fair 2 example in our upcoming September 2009 Long Beach U.S. Coin Auction shows the principle in action.

In the context of the 70-point grading system, first published by Dr. William Sheldon in 1949 and used with modifications today, a coin graded Fair 2 is extremely worn, just one step above the Poor 1 or basal state. (Today’s standard for a Poor 1 coin is that it's barely identifiable, as in, “That’s an 1857 dime. Maybe?”) Though a coin may have a low numeric grade, that doesn’t keep it from being attractive or desirable, as this 1901-S quarter shows.

It came by its grade honestly, having spent a long time in circulation like many of its fellows; both sides are worn down, with parts of the obverse rim, and all of the reverse rim, smoothed away. “Smooth” is the key word here; the same wear that has taken away much of the detail on each side has also removed many of the abrasions that the coin must have accumulated while in circulation, leaving only a few marks on each side. The central details have strong outlines still, and the two most important features on the coin, the 1901 date and the S mintmark, remain bold.

While the high-grade devotee will want to look elsewhere, it’s perfect for the Barber quarter collector looking to cap off a pleasing circulated set of the series, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see the bidding get fierce. Beyond its value to collectors, a well-worn key-date coin like this one is important to me as a cataloger; it reminds me that no matter how many high-end coins I may catalog, every one of them is exceptional. In those moments I gain a greater appreciation, not only for the less-expensive coins I sometimes lose touch with, but also for the remarkable coins, the choicest ones from among the many collections consigned to Heritage, that come across my desk every day.

To leave a comment click on the title of this post.

-John Dale Beety