Throughout history, hoards of coins have captured the imagination of coin enthusiasts
around the world. Many of these hoards are recovered from shipwrecks, but a few
were kept by private citizens. One such hoard was that of Lavere Redfield, whose
stash of Morgan and Peace dollars exceeded 400,000 coins.
An Eccentric Investor
Born near the turn of the century, Lavere Redfield was a humble potato farmer. During
the Great Depression, Redfield moved to California, where he began to purchase junk
stocks and foreclosed real estate. Redfield’s once-undesirable investments matured,
and Redfield used the money to purchase a large home and farmland in Reno, Nevada.
Redfield gradually cashed in on his assets and exchanged his cash for bags of Peace
and Morgan silver dollars. Because he distrusted banks, Redfield hauled the bags
home and pushed then down the coal chute into the basement. Redfield continued to
live modestly as a potato farmer, driving his trusty old pick-up truck.
As word of Redfield’s stash spread, he was robbed a few times. In response, Redfield
began travelling further and further away to acquire his coins. Some of his silver coins came from as far away as Pennsylvania.
By the time Redfield died in 1976, he had amassed more than 400 bags of silver dollars,
each containing 1,000 coins.
Dispersing the Redfield Silver Dollar Hoard
The size of Redfield’s hoard made it impossible to store the collection in one bank
vault. Furthermore, the hoard was too big for potential buyers to examine every
piece in the collection. Given those restraints, the dispersal of the Redfield Hoard
actually went very well. Many numismatists attribute the success of the dispersal
to grass-roots efforts to engage and attract
coin dealers throughout the country.
First, the entire collection was sold at auction for $7.3 million. This price was
significantly lower than the collection’s actual value. Over the next three years,
the new owner promoted the coins throughout the coin dealership community. Most
buyers were collectors, rather than investors, since the coins were extremely popular
due to the fact that majority were in outstanding, uncirculated condition. Due to
widespread participation and interest in the coin collecting community, the coins
from the Redfield Hoard consistently fetched excellent prices.
The coins were either placed in tubes, for bulk sales, or in special plastic holders,
for individual coins. The holders indicated that the coins inside came from the
Redfield Hoard. Over time the Redfield silver dollars were assimilated, and it is
now extremely rare to find silver dollars from the Redfield hoard.
The Lavere Redfield Hoard of
silver Morgan dollars represents a rare and intriguing moment in numismatic
history. The legacy of his obsession with silver dollars will unlikely be outdone.
This information is provided for general reference purposes and does not constitute
professional advice. For detailed coin collecting or investing information, please
consult with a professional expert.