Louis E. Eliasberg: A Consummate Collector
As a well know financier Louis E. Eliasberg (1896-1976) was perhaps better known in world of numismatists as the only person to ever assemble a complete collection of every U.S. minted coin ever minted. While his collection might not be considered as truly complete by today's standards since he did not concern himself with particular circulation strikes or proofs, it is still to this day considered to be the most complete collection of U.S. coins ever assembled. Eliasberg completed his collection on November 7th in 1950, at which point this collection contained at least one sample of every coin that had ever been minted as of this date. This collection included samples of every date, mint mark and metal along with the different denominations of coinage. Perfectionists might claim that because there was no consideration paid to the different minting of each coin, when and where it was struck or any variations in the dies being used and that his collection was truly not complete.
The only coin that was known to not be represented in his collection was the 1849 Double Eagle; often it is actually not recognized as a coin as it was considered a pattern coin and only two examples are ever known to have been minted. Of these two one was given to William H. Meredith who was the Treasury Secretary at the time, its whereabouts are unknown and the other can be seen in the Smithsonian Institution. This feat of coin collection by Louis E. Eliasberg is something that no one had ever achieved and numismatists agree is not something that anyone is ever likely to be able to achieve again. The only coins that are known to be missing from his collection are a few that were not known about when he completed his amazing collection. The last coin he added to his collection and the one that made it "complete" was the 1877-CC No Arrows Liberty Seated dime and at one time he owned one of the rarest coins, the 1933 $20 gold coin.
However, when he learned that these were struck illegally he returned it to the government only to find out that he would never be compensated for the money he had spent to purchase the coin. Along the way he branched out and added many ancient and rare foreign coins to his collection. Before his death in 1976, Eliasberg split his massive collection that he had spent over $4 million on between his two children. This collection took 25 years to complete and as he found specimens in better condition, he replaced those he already had to improve the overall quality of his collection. In 1953 he was hailed as the King of Coin Collectors by Life Magazine and the feature article drew more responses than the cover article regarding the newly crowned Queen of England.