Roland Auctions, USA-New York

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18-05-2017 – 01-01-1970

Philately and World War II Numismatics

The Estate Dr. Alan York Collection at Roland Auctions NY

Roland Auctions NY will offer the seventh of many specialized auctions containing collections from the Estate of Dr. Alan York. A nationally renowned and esteemed collector, Dr. York’s vast historical holdings tell the story of Western Civilization and the history of the United States of America from George Washington’s 1789 inauguration through the new millennium. Worldwide Philately begins the auction and is highlighted by better singles, sets and collections of United States and French Offices in China, Fiume, World War II propaganda, Jewish ghetto and internment camp issues, General Government revenues, post-World War II Germany, as well as an advanced grouping of United States Civil War and British anti-slavery theme envelopes. Following this section, and comprising over 300 lots, is Dr. York’s painstakingly assembled collection of World War II Numismatics. This scholarly group introduces a meticulously curated one-of-a-kind collection of scarce to rare specimens only seen once in a lifetime. A partial list of highlights includes: 

Lot 53: Tatura, Australia. World War II. Interment camp coupons. Estimate: 1,500-2,000 USD.


  • British and Commonwealth internment camp coins and currency from East Africa, Ireland, Channel Islands, India, and Australia.
  • Internment and prisoner of war camp chits/coupons from the United States, France and elsewhere.
  • Third Reich labor, internment and concentration camp coupons/notes from Auschwitz, Birkenau, Mauthausen, Dachau, Gross-Rosen, Neuengamme, Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen, Ravensbruck, Flossenburg, Oranienburg, Mittelbau-Dora, Amersfoort, Westerbork, Herzogenbusch, and elsewhere.


Lot 222: Litzmannstadt, Lodz, Jewish Ghetto. Entwertet specimen. Estimate: 1,500-2,000 USD.

  • Jewish ghetto notes, coins and ration coupons from Theresienstadt, Warsaw and a very advanced study of the diverse issues from Litzmannstadt (Lodz) including specimens.
  • Post-World War II displaced persons and refugee notes including highlights from Deggendorf, Feldafing and the Cyprus American Joint Distribution Committee.

Lot 237: Great Britain. 1929 £100. Bank of England. White note. Estimate: 1,500-2,000 USD.

  • German “Operation Bernhard” forgeries of British “white” notes as well as genuine £100 notes.
  • General Government prisoner of war and internment camp notes from Murnau, Grossborn and Woldenberg.

Lot 293: Berlin, Germany. 1937-1939. Jewish winter relief fund. Estimate: 600-800 USD.

  • Jewish winter help issues and Palestine immigration fund related materials.

The Estate of Dr. Alan York Collection
Philately and World War II Numismatics Auction is a small portion of a larger, massive, curated historical archive assembled over the course of more than a half century. As a whole, this “mega-collection” chronicles nearly all the notable events and moments from the United States’ nascent beginnings to the powerful nation of present day. Other substantial holdings to be sold exclusively by Roland Auctions NY throughout 2017 comprise: Historic Americana, Important Political Ephemera, Cold War Space Race, and others. Important categories comprising Dr. York’s encyclopedic trove include: Abolition, The Civil War, Abraham Lincoln’s Assassination, The Temperance Movement, The Suffragette Movement, Long Island History, both World Wars, John F. Kennedy’s Assassination, The Vietnam War, The Civil Rights Movement, The Cold War, The Space Race, and much more!
Although Alan York (1925-2014) enjoyed a successful career as an optometrist, it was his avocation as a collector that at times rivaled and surpassed his “official” profession. A lifelong passion for learning and sharing knowledge was the essential engine behind Dr. York’s thoughtfully assembled collections. Beginning as a young boy, encouraged by his father, Alan York became enthralled with philately (the collection and study of postage stamps). During a recent interview with Dr. York’s daughter, Barbara York of East Hampton, she recounted, “My father’s initial interest in stamps was the catalyst from which the other collections sprung. Through stamp collecting he deepened his knowledge of history, geography, and current affairs…” Growing up in Brooklyn during the Great Depression, and with limited means, young Alan York worked determinedly to put himself through the Illinois College of Optometry. Upon being drafted into military service during World War II, and recognizing his abilities as a born educator, the U.S. Army assigned Dr. York the task of teaching illiterate G.I.s to read prior to their deployments across the globe. The personal contact and participation in bringing literacy to untold numbers of his struggling peers appealed strongly to Alan’s compassionate nature. After the war, it was this experience that served as the impetus for additional studies at N.Y.U. where he earned a Master’s Degree in Education. While at N.Y.U. he met, and later married, fellow student Claire Fisher. Together the newlywed couple taught remedial reading, with Claire going on to an impressive career as an educator on Eastern Long Island. After settling in East Hampton, N.Y., the York family expanded with the addition of a son, Steven, and daughter Barbara. 

The 1950’s and 60’s saw a rapid intensification and expansion of Dr. York’s collecting practices. Always a devoted husband and father, Alan would often include the entire family on his buying expeditions both domestically and abroad. Explaining her parents’ dynamic, Barbara York recalled that her mother held great respect for Alan’s collecting and often accompanied him to various national conventions. At home, Dr. York would jokingly exclaim “This (collecting) is my horses, my booze, and my women!” While a teenager, Barbara benefited from her father’s encouragement as they began to collect 19th century fashion plates together. When traveling through Europe as a family, Ms. York recalled there would always be “adventures” with oddball dealers and sellers taking them down side streets to off the beaten track shops and bazaars where everyone knew her father by name.

At home on Eastern Long Island, fellow collectors were frequent guests at the York house, as were noteworthy locals such as artists Jackson Pollock and Willem De Kooning. As the result of Dr. York frequently asking, “Why doesn’t anyone write main characters based on optometrists?”, longtime friend and novelist Kurt Vonnegut obliged by giving his “Slaughterhouse Five” protagonist Billy Pilgrim just that occupation!

Roland Auctions NY presents Friday’s sale (catalogue available online here) confident that it will be studied to the delight and satisfaction of philatelists and numismatists alike. It contains an outstanding array of fresh-to-market material and features many museum quality specimens. This important auction provides a small cross-section of just a few of Dr. York’s many collections. 

In the coming months, Roland Auctions NY will continue to bring more of Dr. York’s massive estate to auction via multiple specialty sales. Upcoming auctions will include: Historic America, International Philately, and additional Numismatic selections.

Real time online bidding will be provided by liveauctioneers. In anticipation of Friday’s sale, Roland Auctions NY will be open to the general public for a three-day preview Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, May 16th, 17th, and 18th, from 10 am until 7 pm both days. Friday is certain to be a busy day at Roland Auctions NY. This sale can be viewed online.