The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 20, Number 13, March 26, 2017, Article 11


Harvey Stack provided this recollection of the Philip Showers. Thanks! -Editor

Philip M. Showers Collection of Half Cents This week's E-Sylum by listing the publication by the Newman Portals of the Philip Showers collection was a great bid of news for you to publish, but you provided a prize for all your readers and subscribers. A GIFT THAT WILL BE HARD TO DUPLICATE.

With the fact that you could publish the contents of an edition which had but 12 copies made, and using the fine photography we had in the book, and the super technology of the Newman Portal when you reproduced it for YOUR READERS you provided a record and information, referred to through the years but rarely seen in total.

Since Stack's was the ones who produced the book, and distributed at the time to a few places, I feel I could add to your subscribers and supporters some additional information about the happening. The following is how remember Philip Showers and his Half cents.

I first met Philip Showers in our offices in New York about the time I became a Full Time Numismatist in 1947. Phil was a very close friend of my father's as well as an obvious good client. "COPPER FEVER" reigned as a study area by a group of sophisticated collectors who used the shop we had as a CLUB HOUSE.

My father, was instilled with the early American Coins for their attractiveness as well as their importance to numismatics. Besides serving this elite group by locating and selling to them many of the prize copper coins that cane to the market in the post World War II years, he would join the group of the "Copper Nuts" as they often called themselves and would spend hours talking about, showing examples to be discussed, and the closeness of this group made learning about early copper coins a pleasure for me. Quite often when then met they invited me into to group and showed me what they themselves were learning and appreciating.

Among the group was Philip Showers, W.C. Blaisdel, Harold Bareford, Ray Gallo, Joseph Brobston, Joseph Spray, Dr. William Sheldon, (who liked Large cents in preference to the smaller Half Cents) , C. Douglas Smith, to mention but a few.

Philip Showers had the desire to put together the best quality collection he could amass. He traded as well as bought from the group who were not as advanced as he. He loved Copper, how well most were struck, how they had a lovely light toning which shown below the surface, and to him it was a miracle that they could strike coins in our early history without major machines of the 20th Century.

Phil Straus, who had appreciated the dedication that my father, Morton Stack, gave to him as he was building his collection promised him that when the day came that he wanted to pass on the collection to the next collector that Stack's would be given the opportunity to do it for him.

Phil came to the decision in the mid 1960's to sell he collection. BUT INSTEAD OF SELLING IT IN AN AUCTION CATALOG, he wanted it to be sold intact. The only provision he required was to have a book published, which would memorialize his efforts. But he knew that this would be costly so he said that we could produce a limited number of descriptive books as long as his collection would be recorded.

My father undertook the project. First of all since all the varieties were already listed in several reference books, to redescribe all the varieties was not necessary. A list would appear in the early part pf the book.

Philip M. Showers Collection coin image But the quality of the collection, its overall beauty, if done correctly should be Photographed on plates for easy comparison with other coins of similar varieties. Where in the 1960"s could we get a skilled photographer to do this work for us. Here again, the friendship and warm relations we had with our clients permitted us to approach someone who had the equipment and SKILL to do the job. One of our clients and warm friend was a gentleman named Sam Andre. He was the lead photographer at a magazine at the time called PIC.

Sam Andre won many national rewards for his work, and was a lover of coins and admired the Philip Showers collection. He looked at it with an eye of a Collector, and saw the life that good images can bring to those who appreciated Numismatics. Sam agreed to take the job, and spent many a weekend in our shop taking the pictures. He built a tent about the coins being photographed to diffuse the glare from photo lamps, he used minature spot lights to highlight the surfaces and design of each coin. He was like an artist creating a masterpiece with his photos.

After photographing the coins, he worked in his dark room to produce a set of photos of the entire Philip Showers Half Cent Collection. When he brought the photographic prints to us we had rarely seen a group of coins, no less a Collection, done in such detail. He said that he was in a way happy to say he would produce a dozen sets of the photographs, which he would mount on Hard Board so they could be bound in a book. That's what he did, and that's what the job we did to please Philip Showers, which was to him, and those who he wished the book given to, have a Photographic Record, expertly done as a fitting Memorial to his collection.

When we were offering the collection to those who might be interested in buying the coins, the book acted as our primary salesman. It was later sold intact to Willis Dupont. The rest of the history of the collection is already known.

The collection was broken up after it left the Dupont hands but the book still survives and records the importance of the collection, the work, effort, time and dedication of how I came to learn about the series, as I did with others whom Stack's served through the generations, and that all who would see how a dealer, abiding by the wishes of the collector, created a book that memorializes one of the great collections of Half Cents ever assembled.

I must say after reviewing the illustrations on line, with the equipment that we have available today, one could take the illustrations you reproduced and use it as a guide.

I am indeed proud to see this in print and thank you on behalf of the collectors who collect Half Cents, who did not know of this book, or did not have access to it, can now, either from the Newman Portal or The E-Sylum have guidance for their collection.

Thank you again for providing this information to Numismatics.

1793_c4_obv 1793_c4_rev

I reached out to Len Augsburger for help locating images of an individual Showers coin. He writes:

There are images in the Goldberg / Missouri Cabinet catalog (2014, Goldberg sale #77), which contained Showers pieces that landed in the Tettenhorst collection. I’ve attached one of these (1793 Cohen-4 half cent).

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

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Wayne Homren, Editor

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