The following is a Press Release from Stack’s Bowers, announcing the sale of the Sydney F. Martin Collection. Sydney F. Martin, the former President and Trustee of the American Numismatic Society, passed in January 2021 after a lengthy battle with cancer. Mr. Martin’s collection is considered to be one of the best with a broad depth and a number of rare specimens.
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 auction firm.”
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.”
About Stack’s Bowers Galleries
Stack’s Bowers Galleries conducts live, Internet and specialized auctions of rare U.S. and world coins and currency and ancient coins, as well as direct sales through retail and wholesale channels. The company’s 85-year legacy includes the cataloging and sale of many of the most valuable United States coin and currency collections to ever cross an auction block — The D. Brent Pogue Collection, The John J. Ford, Jr. Collection, The Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection, The Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection, The Joel R. Anderson Collection, The Norweb Collection, The Cardinal Collection and The Battle Born Collection — to name just a few. World coin and currency collections include The Pinnacle Collection, The Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection of World Gold Coins, The Kroisos Collection, The Alicia and Sidney Belzberg Collection, The Wa She Wong Collection, and The Thos. H. Law Collection.
The company is headquartered in Costa Mesa, California, with offices in New York, Philadelphia, Wolfeboro, Hong Kong, and Paris. Stack’s Bowers Galleries is an Official Auctioneer for several important numismatic conventions, including American Numismatic Association events, the New York International Numismatic Convention, the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Spring, Summer and Winter Expos, and its April and August Hong Kong Auctions.