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Take it all or we won

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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Here is a story of another huge hoard, but in this case it was silver instead of gold. It has not been told to the numismatic community. It should be told and not lost. Since I am now in my 89th year, I had best tell it lest the happy reaper sees fit to harvest me.

At the time I was in Curaçao to obtain the great gold stash, a tale told in the May 17 issue, I heard that one of the other banks in town had a stash of 2-1/2 gulden coins that they wished to dispose.

After I got back to Paramount in Englewood, Ohio, from obtaining the gold hoard in 1972, I gave that bank a call. The gentleman I spoke with confirmed that my information was correct. He said they did have a large number of 2-1/2 gulden but wished to sell them all at once. Others had offered to buy 1,000 or perhaps 2,000, but they did not want to piecemeal it out. It was all or nothing.

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I assured him that we wanted them all and were quite capable of handling any amount they might have. He quickly put in a qualifier, “You must understand that we had a fire and some of the pieces are fused together. You must take those also.” He had already told me that they wanted $4 each. With silver at the price it was at the time, I knew they would melt at $5, so we could make $1 or about 25 percent, even on the damaged pieces, and so I assured him that that would be no problem for us and we could handle the whole quantity no matter how many that might be.

An appointed time was set and I flew back to Curaçao. I met with a bank official in one of their conference rooms. There was the usual time of sizing each other up. Finally he said that it looked like we could do business. He summoned a subordinate and told him to have ____ and ____ bring a box of the coins. In a few minutes, two men came in, each on the end of a big wooden box about 2-1/2 by 1 feet by perhaps 10 inches. The men were quite hefty and yet you could tell they were each putting in much effort to carry the box.

They set the box down on the table and one of the men produced a crowbar and proceeded to pry off the top board. I looked inside and was astonished. There was row upon row of gleaming brand-new 2-1/2 gulden sitting on edge with each course of coins surrounded with tissue paper. They were just as they had been when shipped from the mint. The bank executive stated that there were several boxes of coins and wanted to make certain that we could take them all. I told him we could. He then said that I should see the damaged pieces. A man brought in a great gob of coins fused into an irregular ball with a diameter of perhaps 10 to 12 inches. By their inventory list, the bank thought they knew about how many coins were in the gob. We settled on a figure. The deal for the whole lot was consummated and I still had no idea of the magnitude of the purchase.

The bank official said that he had a couple of men who had a truck he could engage to take the hoard to the airport to freight it to Dayton, Ohio. He told me where they would be loading and I went to that entrance. In a bit of time a large flatbed truck backed up to the door. Two rather unkempt and unsavory looking men emerged from the truck. I was not impressed by them. The bank personnel began to bring out the boxes. Box after box after box came out. The entire bed of the truck was covered with those heavy wooden boxes.

We started for the airport on a dirt road. After we were out of town a way, the men started talking. Since Curaçao was a Dutch colony, I supposed it was Dutch. One thing was sure, it was dutch to me. Soon they said something to me which I did not really comprehend but they kept pointing and so I knew they were going to turn off. They did! They went on what was just a path and certainly not a road. There had been no houses nor signs of habitation for some time and the path went into heavy bush country. It crossed my mind, “Here is where John Queen disappears as well as all that silver.” I had been had. We came to a building which was just a roof on posts. There were no sides. A fire was burning in the middle of the shelter. The men got out and talked to a man there and I saw what was going on. The men were ordering food. I had lost my appetite. No one else was around.

Lo and behold in a while the men went to the truck and motioned me over. We got going and went back out to the dirt road and soon arrived safe and sound at the airport. What a relief.

Back at Paramount we put those coins, which contained nearly a troy ounce of silver in hard plastic holders and shipped them out by hand by the thousands at $12 each. It was literally tons of silver. Again, I don’t know about silver hoards appearing on the market, but this had to be the largest group of its kind to hit the channels of numismatic trade.

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