The Newman Numismatic Portal recently published an interview with famed collector Dell Loy Hansen, the first time that Hansen has talked on video, publicly, about his coin collection.
He started his current quest in 2016 and already has claims to the best ever U.S. collection.
The video was released April 8 in conjunction with the Newman Numismatic Portal Symposium.
Like most collectors, Hansen began his collecting journey by filling Whitman folders from pocket change as a child. He spent hours coin roll hunting for S Mint mark cents, steel cents, silver wartime 5-cent coins, then replacing coins that he kept with regular spending money, which proved its own challenge.
“Money was tight when you were in second grade and you know, every nickel was a nickel, you had to find another nickel to replace it,” he said.
Changes in the market
And like so many collectors, Hansen set his pursuit aside a few decades until adulthood.
When he was in his 30s, the Salt Lake City resident visited a local shop and began building a type collection.
“It was kind of weird because all of a sudden he was bringing me coins in these plastic holders and I go, well that doesn’t fit in my book, so I had to break them open, tape that little sticker in the back of the book and put them in the book,” Hansen said.
His modern collecting approach began in 2016 with the Heritage Auctions’ auction of gold double eagles at the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money in Anaheim, California.
Bidding was late, and East Coast buyers succumbed to the need for sleep, and he bought 18 coins for about 30% less than what he figured their market value, Hansen said in the video.
“I kinda got bit by the bug, that this was fun …. winning the pieces and then seeing that they had value kind of caught my attention,” he said.
Hansen quickly got a nearly complete collection of gold $20 coins (save for the 1933 Saint-Gaudens double eagle, for which only one example is legal to own), and that merely furthered his newly-reborn interest in coin collecting.
“I was very interested in, what would be a daunting challenge because I thought the $20 gold was one of the hardest and yet, I was almost complete with that,” he said.
Sparking a new path
An article about the collection formed by Louis E. Eliasberg Sr. got Hansen thinking about whether it would possible to replicate and expand upon his collection, to include pieces previously not known, and including a broader type of finishes.
Where Eliasberg’s collection ended at 1964, Hansen promised to bring it up to date, 2018 at the time.
Hansen added a dimension to his collecting approach in 2019, and the quest shifted to acquiring the finest examples in the grade. Now 38% of the coins in the collection (as cataloged through Professional Coin Grading Service’s Set Registry) are the finest known.
Though not yet complete, his collection is meant to rival and even surpass Eliasberg’s, which famously contained one of each coin type known at the time, irrespective of the coin’s finish, at the time of his death in 1976.
Side by side, but better
“When I look at it I feel kind of like Eliasberg and I are sitting next to each other so John Brush, my [business] partner, bought me Eliasberg’s pipe.”
The Eliasberg Collection predates the creation and adoption of grading services, making it hard to compare coins between the two, but Hansen is certain his edges out the historic collection built by the late Baltimore financier.
“I do think that the average coin in the D.L. Hansen collection compared to the Eliasberg is probably a better grade.”
The full video, including an interview with John Brush, co-owner with Hansen of David Lawrence Rare Coins, is posted at a specific page of the NNP, https://nnp.wustl.edu/library/book/614154.