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My 85th Birthday and Embarking on my 67th Year as a Professional Numismatist

Part I

Author: Harvey Stack / Thursday, June 27, 2013 / Categories: Harvey G. Stack Remembers

On June 3, 2013 I celebrated with my family my 85th birthday and it was a great and warm affair. After a wonderful dinner party we returned home and I relaxed and thought about how I began my professional life as a numismatist. It was some 66 years ago, when I joined my family full-time in our rare coin business in 1947. Prior to this I had worked virtually every moment that I wasn’t in school. This was my early introduction to work, as I put in hours, days and weeks without receiving a paycheck.

So, I was reminiscing at home after my nice birthday dinner, and thinking about the people and events that most influenced me during my first decade (1947-1956) at Stack’s. First I thought of the great tutoring I received from the many professional dealers who did business with our company, either buying and selling, through our auctions, or when they would stop by “the numismatic clubhouse on 46th Street.” The names that I ran through in my mind were astounding, as in that first decade of my career I encountered many of the coin dealers whose names appear, to this day, in auction sale catalogs and pedigrees and in many reference books.

It was amazing to me that in only a few minutes I could remember so well so many different names and recall the friendships I had with them. Here I have space to mention a few who were outstanding in that era, and who worked with me and my family for many years after as well. The first two I mention were not clients, but instead were co-workers -- my cousins Benjamin and Norman, both the sons of my Uncle Joseph. Ben was about a year and half older than me and Norman was exactly 19 days younger than me, so we all shared much of the same training. Unfortunately, Ben died in 1983 and Norman passed away in 1992, leaving me the only survivor of our generation.

My cousins and I had the same background and the advantage of the friendship and mentorship of the following professionals, among many others. Of course, my father, Morton, and my uncle, Joseph B. Stack, were paramount among our teachers. But other well-known names included Dr. and Mrs. Stefanelli, Henry Grunthal, Wayte Raymond, David Proskey, F.C.C. Boyd, Charles Wormser, Abe Kosoff, Abner Kreisberg, Mike Kolman, Hans Holzer, Hans Schulman, George Walton, Hal Prosky, Max Kaplan, James Kelly, Charles Green, B. Max Mehl, David Spink, Peter Seaby, Dr. Leo Mildenberg, Lester Merkin, E.A. Parker, Dan Brown, John J. Ford, Walter Breen, James C. Risk, Edward May, Cornelius Vermeule, and many others. I learned from all of them, and in turn, passed on what I had learned. I can proudly say that some of the above started as full-time employees of Stack’s, and later went on to establish themselves as independent dealers.