John Ford passes away

John Ford, a coin dealer and collector known for catalogs that brought clarity to numismatics and whose collections, including the earliest American coins and prized Confederate pennies, have dazzled recent auctiongoers, died July 7 at a nursing home in Scottsdale, Ariz. He was 81.

Susan Dobbins, his daughter, confirmed the death.

The scale and completeness of Mr. Ford’s collecting have emerged as 11 of as many as 20 auctions have been conducted to sell off his esoteric collections, which included the notes of Massachusetts issued in 1690, the oldest coins issued by the Continental Congress, and African chiefs’ medals.

Michael Hodder, a numismatic consultant, said bidders already had spent $35 million on the Ford collections, and the final total may rival the three auctions of the collection of Louis Eliasburg, who assembled examples of every known American coin. These exceeded $55 million.

Francis Campbell, the librarian of the American Numismatic Society, said the sales have expanded appreciation of Mr. Ford.

“It’s going to settle in that he was more important than we thought he was,” he said.

Mr. Ford’s impact on the field has been better-known in the small circle of its professionals, particularly his catalogs for New Netherlands Coin Co., which he partly owned. His meticulous descriptions of grades, colors and other qualities were unprecedented, wrote Harvey Stack, owner of Stack’s, which is auctioning Ford’s collections.

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