It is with great enthusiasm that I write this letter to introduce you to the Mervis Collection of Large Cents.
In the world of numismatics, it is said, completing a collection by numbered Sheldon varieties is like climbing Everest. Only a dozen collectors had completed this feat before it was accomplished by the father and son team of Adam and Alec Mervis. Extending the analogy further, collectible varieties are really just the “Everest base camp” of the Mervis Collection. The collection also includes 33 different examples of Sheldon’s non-collectible (NC) varieties and one of the greatest assemblages of related errors coins ever offered.
I know that you’ll be hearing some of these figures repeated many times as the January 10, 2014 auction nears, but I can’t resist enumerating some of them myself. The Mervis Collection includes all eleven non-collectible varieties of 1794; only three other collectors have ever been able to assemble this grouping. In terms of breadth, the 880 coins of the Mervis Collection rival J.R. Frankenfield’s (2001) landmark collection of large cents.
My experience with the Mervis Collection is confined solely to grading, as the majority of the collection was recently certified by NGC. With so many extreme rarities – two Strawberry Leaf cents, two Jefferson Heads, a Reeded Edge – it is a challenge for me to pick out just a few to share. Here, nonetheless, are coins that remain top of mind: The 1794 Sheldon-37 is a pleasing and smooth VF 20 BN and the second finest example I have graded. It’s always exciting to see this key among the numbered Sheldon varieties, the distant 1 in the date making it immediately recognizable. The 1794 Sheldon-68 also captured my attention. It is a beautiful chestnut color and graded MS 62 BN and is solidly the finest known. Among the middle date cents, a standout is the 1831 N-10 SP 65 BN. It is at once visually splendid and as well made as any large cent of its era. Among the late dates, the 1844 N-8 PF 65 RD Cameo is definitely a coin to see and one to remember.
As numismatists, when we look back we will recall this as an unprecedented and singular era for the disposition of great large cent collections, beginning with the collection of Wes Rasmussen (2005), then Walter Husak (2008), Dan Holmes (2009), and Ted Naftzger (2009). Now add Mervis to this pantheon and what may be the final great sale of this generation and therefore the last opportunity to acquire a number of these rarities.
I wish you luck and enjoyment as you participate in the sale of the Mervis Collection.