Numismatic Giant: Maurice M. Gould, 1909-1975

Gould Part II
Sol Taylor's catalog of the Maurice M. Gould Part II mail bid sale of Feb. 20, 1977. Gould, at left in cover photo, was frequently requested as a master of ceremonies, as seen here.

By Dr. Sol Taylor
"Making Cents"
The Signal
Saturday, November 26, 2005

aurice M. Gould is a legendary name in American numismatics. Maury was born Feb. 6, 1909, just six days before the Abraham Lincoln centennial celebrations and just six months before the release of the new Lincoln cent in August 1909.
    As a child in the Boston area, Maury was taken to stamp collecting, and as a teenager he expanded into coins. He joined the American Numismatic Association in 1917 and made an elongated 1967 cent inscribed, "Maurice M. Gould, Numismatist / Golden Anniversary, 1918-68 / 50 Years in Numismatics."
    During World War II he formed a partnership with Frank Washburn known as the Copley Coin Co. in downtown Boston. That location gave them access to many of New England's estates, and his acquisitions included properties of many prominent colonial and early American pioneers. Many of these items are cited in the Maurice M. Gould Part II sale of 1977, which I catalogued.
    During his tenure at Copley Coin, Maury either founded or became active in many local organizations including the New England Numismatic Association, The Love Token Society and the Tokens and Medals Society (TAMS). He published dozens of articles on coins, tokens and medals and authored several books on these subjects. He acquired and sold some of the premiere collections of American colonial coins handed down from ancestors of the American Revolutionary period.
    In November 1975, Maury contracted pneumonia and died. Only a few months earlier he had been elected to the Board of Governors of the American Numismatic Association.
    Several months later I was asked to catalog and appraise his holdings, and as a result, I drafted two mail-bid sales: Maurice M. Gould Part I and Part II in 1976 and 1977, respectively. The sale items give a better picture of the collector than the many personal accolades and awards he richly earned.
    Working for two years on his estate, I became interested in tokens and joined TAMS (becoming Life Member No. 79); wrote a standard catalog of love tokens in 1982, and joined the Society of Paper Money Collectors (SPMC) and the Civil War Token Society.
    The index page of the Maurice M. Gould Part II sale showed a wide range of material in this portion of the estate, from philatelic items to wooden money to medallic art. (The first sale focused mainly on U.S. and foreign coins and currency.)
    Some of the historic items in the second sale were related to the John A. Bolen estate; the catalog includes a brief biography of Bolen and a resume of the medals he struck. A grandson of Bolen sold the collection to Gould around 1945.
    The second sale also included the notebook of prominent antiquarian John A. Nexsen. The 380-page notebook covered a wide range of ancient coins and brought a top bid of $66.
    A pair of copper printing plates from the estate of Mrs. Quincy Adams Shaw, a descendant of the Adams presidents, brought $25.
    A serious numismatist would enjoy studying this sale catalog, since it includes hundreds of items long ago dispersed to many private collections at bargain prices, even for the time.
    Because no reference catalogues were available for many of the items, pricing estimates were sketchy. In fact, many of the tokens in the sale are now referenced in the standard catalog of U.S. trade tokens by Russell Rulau, which was first published several years after Gould died.
    In was an honor, a labor of affection and a privilege to have handled all of these wonderful items even for the couple of years I had to catalog them and conduct these two sales.
    Mrs. Jean Gould said that one of her husband's faults was his unwillingness to part with many acquisitions before he had a chance to research their origins and their market value. Although he was no longer active in the coin business once he moved to California, Maury's accumulation over many decades was still there, locked away for him to review and evaluate.
    Unfortunately, his time ran out too soon.

    Dr. Sol Taylor of Sherman Oaks is president of the Society of Lincoln Cent Collectors and author of The Standard Guide to the Lincoln Cent. Click here for ordering information.