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The Great Northwest Collection: One Man’s Treasure

Gene L. Henry gave his name to a treasure. His own name because he collected exceptional coins all his life. As a teenager, he developed a passion for numismatics and spent more than 50 years trading coins in the Seattle area. Given the size of his collection, the UCS decided to inventory it under the name of the Great Northwest Collection.

The expertise of American numismatist Gene Henry

Gene Henry died at the age of 72, just after a tennis match, which was his favorite sport. Upon his death, the executors of his estate discovered the details of his estate. He had assembled a gigantic collection estimated at about 135,000 silver coins, mostly U.S. dollars. Native of the Seattle suburbs of Issaquah, Washington, this inventory was named the Great Northwest Collection in honor of his legendary influence.

Not only was Gene Henry a conscientious numismatist, but he served the discipline throughout his life. Considered an expert, he contributed to numerous publications such as the Guide Book of U.S. Coins, known as the “Red Book” and the Handbook of U.S. Coins, known as the “Blue Book”. He shared many photographs from his collection.

Gene Henry was a member of the American Numismatic Association in Boston since the 1960s. He produced Loose Change, a local television program on numismatics in 1966 and 1967, and he was also a member of the Professional Numismatists Guild.

According to Greg Rohan, president of Heritage Auctions, “he was the largest dealer in the Pacific Northwest. He drove a white Rolls-Royce and traveled the coin shows buying coins faster than anyone else”. He was a mainstay of numismatic events in the United States.

A major collection of VAM dollars

Given the scope of such a collection, the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation, the international certification service for private coins, felt that the set should be recognized as a fully-fledged treasure. The company therefore certified the “Great NorthWest collection” with its own label. It was also a way to pay tribute to the numismatist Henry and to recognize his work and his importance in the field.

Two different labels were created for this treasure: the Great Northwest Collection and the Gene L. Henry Legacy Collection. Some of the coins are marked VAM, as Gene was an avid collector of these particular silver coins. He had a scholarly knowledge of the U.S. silver dollar and all varieties of matrices.

As a reminder, the VAM is a variety of Peace and Morgan silver dollar matrix. The researchers Leroy C. Van Allen and A. George Mallis identified differences between coins produced in the same year and at the same bank, but with different matrices. In fact, each mint uses several coin matrices each year to produce the coins. Their book The Comprehensive Catalog and Encyclopedia of Morgan and Peace Dollars lists the various differences. The letters VAM actually stand for the initials of the authors’ last names.

Henry’s treasure consists of coins of different dates and mint marks. Some of them are quite common and some others are much rarer. This major find is ranked amongst the most prestigious dollar treasures in the United States. The Great Northwest Collection of Gene L. Henry has now taken its place in the history of numismatics.

Sources :
Gene L Henry
Coin World

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