In a press release this week, Stack's Bowers Galleries announced their planned sale of the Syd Martin Collection. Wow! We'll look forward to the catalog(s)!
For three decades, Sydney F. Martin of Doylestown, Pennsylvania and Amelia Island, Florida
was a preeminent figure in American numismatics. He served as president of the American Numismatic Society and
was the author of standard references on no fewer than four early American numismatic specialties. Mr. Martin was
a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and founder of The Sytex Group, which provided services
to the defense and intelligence communities before its acquisition by Lockheed Martin in 2005.
Stack's Bowers Galleries of Costa Mesa, California has been selected to sell Martin's many remarkable numismatic
collections at public auction over a several year span, beginning in 2022. Stack's Bowers Galleries has sold most of
the finest collections of pre-Federal coins presented at auction over the last 50 years. Many of Martin's most prized
specimens will be offered at events in conjunction with the Baltimore Whitman Expos, the American Numismatic
Association's World's Fair of Money, and the November conventions of the Colonial Coin Collectors Club.
Our world-class expertise in this specialized area was a natural pairing with Mr. Martin's world-class collection,
said Brian Kendrella, Stack's Bowers Galleries president.
After spending years of his life and many millions of
dollars building one of the finest numismatic cabinets of all time, Syd left very particular instructions on how the
cabinet should be dispersed. We're grateful that we are able to provide all the aspects he sought from a numismatic
Blessed with a warm personality, remarkable memory, and limitless curiosity, Martin's approach to numismatics
was organized and studious, informed by strong relationships with dealers and fellow collectors as well as a superb
numismatic library. His cabinet began modestly, but his acquisitions increased in magnitude in the early 2000s. At
that time, he undertook the construction of a reference collection broad enough to fully examine the die varieties of
series like the Rosa Americanas, the St. Patrick coinages, the Wood's Hibernias, and the coins of the French
colonies in North America. He was as attracted to humble pieces of great academic value as he was marquee rarities,
and his success in business and careful approach allowed him to acquire great numbers of both. The Martin
Collection includes thousands of early American coins and medals, and it will take years to carefully catalog and
present at public sale.
The Martin Collection could be compared to the Norweb Collection (sold by Bowers and Merena in 1987-88) in its
expansiveness and its inclusion of headline rarities, but it's both bigger and deeper than Norweb. It could be
compared to Garrett (1979-81) or Ford (2003-13), but either comparison underestimates the breadth of series that
Martin explored. The collection of Connecticut coppers is both the most complete and most important ever
assembled. The collections of other early copper series, notably including the New Jerseys, is similarly important.
The series that Syd Martin collected and researched vigorously enough to produce new standard references — the
St. Patricks, the coinage of William Wood, and the French colonial series — are unlike any collections that have
ever been formed or could conceivably be formed again. Massachusetts silver, colonial type coins, Fugio coppers,
coins and medals of George Washington, Betts medals, and more, are all present in world-class quality.
The cataloging of the Martin Collection will focus on Martin's unique approach and important legacy, with early
American expert John Kraljevich leading an experienced Stack's Bowers Galleries team. Kraljevich and Martin's
friendship dates back decades, to small town shows in their native Pennsylvania, and continued as both grew in
experience and expertise.
It's an honor to have a chance to contextualize Syd's amazing efforts and bring them — and his coins — not only
to a new generation of collectors, but to pages that will memorialize his contributions for numismatists not yet
born, Kraljevich said.
The man was the total numismatist: scholar, writer, collector, and companionable colleague.
I'm so thankful he did so much work to improve the community of numismatic scholars and collectors, and we all
owe him a debt. These catalogs are one way we can say thanks.
To read earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
SYDNEY F. MARTIN (1945-2021)
ROGER SIBONI REMEMBERS SYD MARTIN
MORE ON SYD MARTIN
Wayne Homren, Editor
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