Bonhams & Butterfields announce the inaugural West Coast auction of Rare Coins and Bank Notes on May 30, 2010, featuring the Collection of Paul Bloomfield. Sold to benefit the acquisitions fund at the Bancroft Library located at the University of California, Berkeley, the offering boasts a compressive selection of over 300 years of North American coinage and early tokens at a variety of collecting levels, from hobbyist to the seasoned buyer.
Known in the field as a ‘type’ collection, which consists of varying designs over a period of time or from a particular region, the Bloomfield Collection features coinage from Canada, Mexico and the United States from the 17th though 20th centuries. Rare and interesting highlights can be found throughout the 2,000-piece Collection offering, from early American items issued by the original colonies to unusual pieces from the 1920s.
“The Paul Bloomfield Collection is one of the most complete ‘type’ collections to be featured at public auction by a major institution in recent history. Bonhams & Butterfields is pleased to offer buyers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire rare and unique coins while assisting thousands of students and scholars who utilize the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, each year,” said Paul Song, Director of Rare Coins and Bank Notes.
Included within the noted offering is a highly sought after 1925 coin designed for the 75th Diamond Jubilee anniversary of the admission of California to the Union (est. $250-300). Prior to statehood California, which was explored and settled by the Spanish, was a part of Mexico. Following the Mexican War, California was ceded to the United States under terms of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo for $15-million.
The coin is made of silver and depicts a grizzly bear, the state emblem of California, and is accompanied on the reverse by a Gold Rush-era miner panning gold. Issued by the San Francisco Citizens’ Committee through the San Francisco Clearing House Association and the Los Angeles Clearing House, the coin was minted in San Francisco.
Additional highlights from the Bloomfield Collection will include: a 1797 U.S. Half Dollar (est. $30,000-40,000); a 1802 U.S. Half Cent (est. $20,000-30,000); a highly collectible 1798 U.S. Stars Small Eagle $1 (est. $6,000-7,000); an early 1652 Oak Tree Shilling (est. $4,000-5,000); a 1928 50 Cent piece from Hawaii ($1,400-1,800) and a rare 1694 Half Penny Elephant Token (est. $800-900) among others.
Bancroft Director Charles Faulhaber states, “We are delighted that Bonhams & Butterfields has agreed to handle the auction of the Paul Bloomfield Collection of North American Coins. It has been a great comfort to deal with such a knowledgeable firm.”
The Bancroft Library officially dates from 1905, when the University of California acquired Hubert Howe Bancroft’s personal library. The origins of the Bancroft’s collection date back forty-two years earlier when he discovered seventy-five volumes pertaining to California and the West on the shelves of his own San Francisco bookstore.
Bancroft saw his collection as history awaiting an author. Unable to find scholars willing to tackle his massive accumulation of books and manuscripts, Bancroft elected to write it himself, with the aid of a staff of interviewers, transcribers, and writers. The final work encompassed thirty-nine volumes, covering the Native Races, Central America, Mexico, the North Mexican States and Texas, Arizona and New Mexico, California, the Northwest Coast, Alaska, and the remainder of the American West.
When his history project was completed in 1894, Bancroft became interested in preserving his collection. He sought a permanent home for it and eventually sold his collection to the University of California, with the provision that it is maintained as a separate library, and that the core collection is added to over time.
First housed in the attic of California Hall, and then in the Doe Library, both located in Berkeley, the Bancroft Library moved into its present quarters in 1973. At the same time, the original scope of the library was enlarged to include a number of other “special collections,” including the former Rare Books Collection.
The Bancroft Library now includes the Mark Twain Papers and Project, the Regional Oral History Office, the University of California Archives, the History of Science and Technology Program, and the Pictorial Collection. Over the years, the Bancroft Library at the University of California Berkeley has become one of the largest, as well as busiest, special collections in the United States.
Highlight Exhibition: April 9-11, 2010, San Francisco and May 2010 at Bonhams New York
Auction Preview: May 28-29, 2010, 10am-5pm, Los Angeles
Auction: May 30, 2010, 10am, Los Angeles