Ex Norweb, James Pryor and Tom Palmer. A jaw-dropping, original coin: the sort reserved for “old-time” collections. Bowers & Merena did not pinpoint the source of acquisition when it offered the Norweb Collection in Nov. 1988. We were told, however, that Emery May Norweb, nee Holden, was the daughter of Albert Fairchild Holden and that Mr. Holden was a prominent numismatist of the late 19th century and early 20th century. He was a regular at sales conducted by Henry Chapman, Thomas Elder and others. “Probably half or more of the coins in the Norweb Collection trace their pedigree to Albert Fairchild Holden and have remained off the market for the best part of a century.” The depth and quality of the Norweb Collection was remarkable. A Who’s Who of collectors and dealers filled the room at the St. Moritz Hotel on Central Park South in New York City. Jim Pryor was front and center when this coin (lot 3093) crossed the block, beating back my feeble effort and any others with ownership aspirations. (No sympathy needed. I later won the 1833 O.116 crushed lettered edge proof.) Three years later Jim succumbed to brain cancer. A tragedy. He was only 54. The Pryor family selected Bowers & Merena to sell his collection in January 1996. I attended the sale at the Renaissance Hotel in Los Angeles. The Norweb `28-119 Small Letters was lot 74 in the sale. Tom Palmer was assembling his extraordinary Red Book set of bust halves and needed the coin. With George Hamilton and Gehring Prouty in the fray it was not an easy victory. But Tom prevailed. Tom retired a few years later and sold his set outright to me. This coin was placed, privately, in another important collection and makes its first appearance in my auctions. Estimate: $4,500 and up
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Sheridan Downey, Numismatist 4400 Keller Ave.,
Suite 140, PMB 398 Oakland, California 94605 email@example.com (510) 479-1585