Dr. Sol Taylor

Venerable Coin Dealership: Stack Brothers, NYC

By Dr. Sol Taylor
"Making Cents"
Saturday, September 27, 2008

made my first visit to Stack's in midtown Manhattan in 1944. It was a well organized, clean, attractive store — wide aisles, comfy chairs, clean glass cases and attractive wall displays.
    I was only a boy and obviously not a patron of the arts. I came to fill a couple of holes in my newly acquired Type Set folder. I eventually bought two different types well used half cents for 90 cents. The sales person made me feel I had to decide quickly and move on.
    More serious-looking customers sat at the counters poring over probably hundreds of dollars worth of coins, or more, while I had only $1 to spend.
    I used to spend most Saturdays at the downtown shop of Hans Sergl, who was more accepting of my presence in his tiny shop. I often would spend a few hours there, checking out his old inventory as well as any newly acquired purchases. Sergl's shop at 147 Fulton Street was near the corner of Nassau Street, the street more famous for its cluster of top-tier stamp dealerships.
    Stack's is not only one of the major coin dealerships today, but was a standout for most of its history since its founding in 1933 by brothers Morton and Joseph Stack. Located in midtown Manhattan at 57th Street, it was in the heart of the theater district, Times Square, and luxury midtown apartments.
    No doubt as it grew during the 1930s, many clients came forth with major collections and accumulations to solve their financial woes. The list of famous collections alone would boggle the mind. Stack's was involved in many major purchases not only from private citizens but also from dealers who were no longer active in the field.
    By the 1950s, Stack's was among the top three or four coin dealers in the country. In 1954 they had planned to attend the famous Palace Collection sale of King Farouk in Egypt but were offered at the same time a major collection which took most of their cash.
    As Harvey Stack said, it was a tough choice, but it was a win-win situation. What they may have missed in the Farouk sale they more than made up with their purchase of a major collection in New York.
    In their experience, other major dealerships have come and gone — the Guttag Brothers, the Chapman Brothers, Kosoff & Kreisberg, Robert Friedberg, the Kagin Brothers, B. Max Mehl, Paramount Coins, Harry Bass, Maurice M. Gould (Copley Coins), Grover Criswell, and many others.
    More recently, the third generation of the Stack family still operates the business, and with the recent merger of American Numismatic Rarities — the latest incarnation of legendary Q. David Bowers — it is the premiere East Coast numismatic dealership. Their recent multi-year sale of the late John J. Ford set a record for the sale of one person's estate of more than $54 million. Ford was a long time Stack's customer.
    The current leadership is Larry Stack as CEO with Christine Karstedt as president and Q. David Bowers and Harvey Stack as "chairmen emeritus." An article by Leon Worden in COINage magazine, December 2006, goes into more detail on the merger of the two numismatic giants, Bowers and Stack's.