Baker Sale of Washingtoniana

Jeff Shevlin · September 19, 2019

Over 1,000 lots of Washington related medals were sold in auction by Stacks Bowers. The medals were from the original collection put together by William Spohn Baker in the late 1880s. Baker authored the standard reference book for Washington medals titled “Medallic Portraits of Washington” that has been the standard reference book until it was recently supplanted by Neil Musante’s excellent new book on Washington medals “Medallic Washington”.

Many of the items sold for three to four times auction estimates. People were commenting the following week that it was an absolutely crazy sale and collectors were trying to figure out what happened. It didn’t take too long to find out that Dwight N. Manley, whom the ANA Library in Colorado Springs is named after, was an active participant. Here are his comments after the auction.

“This collection came along and is sort of revered as the best, ultimate collection of Washingtoniana. A book had been written about it, with all the items listed. Things like that don’t just come along . . .  So, I said, okay, I want to buy some key items, and one thing led to another, and as the sale was playing out, it didn’t seem to have like any of the so-called billionaires that buy these different things and donate them to museums. So I just decided—probably 50 lots into it—I was going to try and buy as much as I could.”

The market is adjusting to those new price levels, many of those great rarities will hold those values, some may not.

Blog Category

Auction Results / Market Analysis