Legendary political memorabilia collection heading to auction

DALLAS – Heritage Auctions announces the sale of the legendary Merrill C. Berman collection of political memorabilia, to be sold in four auctions to take place in Dallas through 2015 and early 2016. Berman’s lifelong fastidious approach created one of the finest political collections of important  ever assembled.

“These will truly be landmark events,” said Tom Slater, director of Americana Auctions at Heritage. “Merrill has always been a very private collector. He did most of his buying through auctions and a few trusted dealers, and it has been several decades since the

Political memorabilia mount

One of the 150 large riker mounts, filled with quality political memorabilia, which is coming up for bids beginning Feb. 28. (Photo courtesy Heritage Auctions)

last time any hobbyist was given the opportunity to view the entire collection.”
Part I of the collection will appear at auction Feb. 28, 2015. Selections of items from the collection have been displayed publicly on two occasions: at the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers, New York, in 1984 and in 2008 at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois. However, according to Slater, those displays barely scratched the surface of the collection.

Berman, one of the first 100 members of the American Political Items Collectors, began collecting as a youth, but he began to build his collection in earnest around 1970, when success as a stock investor and venture capitalist allowed him to pursue the best material available. “I remember one of my first big sales to Merrill,” Slater said. “It was back in the early 1970s and included a beautiful McClellan-Pendleton jugate ferro priced at $2,000. At the time it was almost certainly a record price for any political item. From the beginning, Merrill Berman possessed the qualities which one of my colleagues in the auction business likes to enumerate as defining a great collector: knowledge, taste, financial means and perhaps most importantly, courage.

“He always recognized truly special material and didn’t hesitate to step up when unique opportunities came along. Not surprisingly, he was an active buyer when Don Warner’s important collection was auctioned by New England Rare Coin Auctions in 1981. Although Merrill has continued to make the occasional addition to the collection over the years, the collection as it will be offered had essentially taken shape by the mid-1980s.”


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The Berman Collection now fills some 150 large riker mounts, with very little “filler” material, Slater said.  Over the years he absorbed several significant collections, including those of old-time hobbyist Howard Adler and another legendary collector, Stanley King. He was also one of the biggest buyers in the 1981 auction of the Don Warner Collection, the most important political collection ever offered at auction at the time.

The first catalog of the Berman Collection holdings will be released in early February, and lots may also be viewed on HA.com. Additional selections from the collection will be auctioned during weekly Internet auctions. Regular Heritage bidders will receive copies of the catalogs by mail; others may order catalogs starting about a month before each auction by calling 800-872-6467 and asking for the Catalog Order Desk. Questions about the Berman auction series can be directed to Tom Slater at TomS@HA.com or 214-409-1441.

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