Largest, rarest collection in West Virginia

Cyrus Scott “Cy” Smith of Elkins was a well-known businessman and an avid collector. His collection of rare and one-of-a-kind coins and paper currency represented years of collecting.

“He collected the items piece by piece and by purchasing small estates,” said daughter Becky Hackman. “He would attend auctions, and would always search for local bank notes. In later years, he also did some buying and selling on line and through EBay.”

Smith’s personal coins and paper currency collection went on the auction block April 4 at the new Elkins National Guard Armory in Elkins. The auction caused quite a stir among collectors.

“Collectors all over the world were watching this collection,” Joe R. Pyle, owner of the company that oversaw the auction, said. “I have never seen a collection this extensive before with currency from many different West Virginia banks. We placed the items on the World Wide Web, and received thousands of pre-bids on these items.”

Auction representative Kevin Teets said the family decided to auction these items because Smith loved auctions. Smith owned S & S Coins and Antiques in Elkins. Most folks around the Elkins area remember Smith’s shop because of the large clock outside of S & S Coins and Antiques.

“My father loved clocks and he bought two large ones for the outside of the shop,” Hackman said. “One he bought from a jeweler in Elkins and one from Weston. He bought the one from Weston because that is where my mother was from.”

Hackman said he installed the clock in front of his shop in the 1970s.

“Historically, jewelry stores had them outside their shops in the middle of towns to show the time and advertise their shops,” Hackman said. “My father collected clocks, did clock repairs and belonged to many clock societies.”

Hackman said her father enjoyed collecting currency, especially those from banks in West Virginia.

“Smith’s collection is one of the largest and rarest West Virginia and national paper currency collection we have ever seen,” Teets said. “Usually when people inherit these collections, they hold onto the items and just sell a few items at a time. You just don’t see a collection this size come up for sale very often.”

Unique items included in the sale include a 1934-D $5 silver certificate, an 1874 $2 legal tender note, a 1902 $20 National Currency note from the First National Bank of Belington, an 1882 $5 National Currency note from the Traders National Bank of Buckhannon, an 1882 National Currency note from the Merchants National Bank of West Virginia in Clarksburg, an 1875 National Currency $5 note from the First National Bank of Grafton, a 1902 National Currency $10 note from the First National Bank of Grafton and an 1882 $5 National Currency note from the Elkins Nation Bank.

Teets said the auction went well, and some of the Elkins notes came close to bringing in $4,800.

“More than 150 people packed the armory for the auction, and there were more than 140 folks online bidding as well,” Teets said. “Notes were sold to people in California, Wyoming, Virginia and Florida. When the auction got to the West Virginia notes, bids ranged from $2,000 to $5,000 each. It was a wonderful auction and a wonderful family to work with. It was great to have a family acting as one accord and a pleasure to work with them.”

Smith graduated from Elkins High School in 1944 where he played football and was a drummer in a band. Following high school he attended West Virginia University. As a child, Cy was a train bearer in the first Forest Festival in 1930.

Early employment in the family business, Smith Chevrolet, resulted in a sustained interest in cars and a brief stock car racing career. Shortly after his marriage to Bobby in 1954, he entered the Army and served for two years in Long Island, N.Y., working with Nike Air Missile deployment. When he returned from the service, he founded Smith Lumber Company; his next endeavor was Phoenix Hardwood Corporation. A lifelong passion for history, toys, trains and coins led to the opening of S & S Coins and Antiques in 1968.