Saturday, 16 June 2012

Update on the Hispanic Society Coin Sale Scandal

There have been new developments in the scandalous sage of the sale of an important collection of European coins by an American institution. The sale of 37,895 Spanish coins  donated in 1949 to the Hispanic Society of America, by collector Archer M. Huntington is best reported by 'CultureGrrl'.

These three posts give the drift of the later part of the story:
News Flash: Hispanic Society’s Collection of 37,895 Spanish Coins Finds Buyer

 News Flash: 1,004 Ex-Hispanic Society Coins to Be Re-Auctioned in Spain; American Numismatic Society Retrieves 10,000 Pieces

Monetizing the Money: Why Did No One Stop the Hispanic Society’s Coin Disposal?

When donating the material to the institution, it appears that Huntington explicitly forbade transfers of such property to any "library, corporation, institution or person, whomsoever or whatsoever", and it seems that the HSA ran roughshod over the  wishes of the donor who died on December 11, 1955.

It seems the gentleman's former private collection of coins has been bought as a job-lot by a consortium of dealers (probably for about 26 million dollars), and is now being split up for resale, the first such sale occurring recently. One batch of coins has been lent to the ANS - if it is donated substantial tax benefits will ensue for the dealers (which are only "mon-and-pop businesses" of course), thus emptying the public purse a second time (Huntington got a tax reduction when he gave them the first time). The coins that went to the ANS include Visigothic and Merovingian issues which - as the products of local, one might say 'provincial' rulers - tend not to be anything near as sought-after on the collectors' market as Classical coins ("it's art innit?") and early modern coins.

Vignette: From Culturegrrl

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