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B. Max Mehl, Master Mailer, Part II

By Frank Van Valen, Numismatist & Cataloger

Author: Frank Van Valen / Thursday, April 28, 2016 / Categories: Exonumia Corner

​By the 1920s B. Max Mehl's numismatic empire had stretched cross-country from Fort Worth, Texas, to every corner of America and beyond. A simple inquiry with his firm and one's mailbox would soon be filled with a Mehl mailing envelope chock full of goodies and advertisements for the active collector and for would-be sellers as well. In the last installment we discussed an illustrated mailing envelope, cover letter, and return envelope – Mehl thought of everything!

But now for the good stuff. Along with the items mentioned in the last installment, the mailing envelope included a second edition copy of Mehl's Star Coin Book, which listed the prices Mehl paid for numismatic items. From half cents to double eagles, fractional gold to territorial gold, and ancient coins to world coins, Mehl had a buying price for everything under the numismatic sun. The volume is chock-full of black and white illustrations as well. Next up was Mehl's Price List of Coins and Paper Money, a volume that listed Mehl's sell prices for many of the same coins listed in his buy price list, the Star Coin Book. I'd love to go back to the Price List and order, for instance, the two-piece set of Massachusetts silver coinage that included an Oak Tree shilling and a Pine Tree shilling, both coins for the then lordly price of $25! Nor would I mind a shot at his 1858 Proof dollar for $45. Those, indeed, were the days!

Another interesting flyer in the package is an order blank for a copy of the Star Rare Coin Encyclopedia which shows a line illustration of an 1804 silver dollar that notes "We paid Mr. Manning of Albany $2,500 for this coin." The back of this pale blue flyer contains several testimonials from satisfied customers. Finally, Mehl's customers would have enjoyed the list of commemorative coinage for sale included on a separate sheet. No piece is dated after 1925, a date that includes the 1925 Stone Mountain half dollar and the 1925 "Bunker Hill" half dollar which probably equates to today's Lexington-Concord half dollar. How about a 1921 Missouri half dollar in Mint State for $2 or perhaps a gold 1916 McKinley dollar for $3.50? The flip side of this sheet lists two books offered by Mehl, including a reprint of the Andrews work on large cents of 1816 to 1857 and The Romance of the Pioneers, which was a timely catalog of prices realized for Pioneer gold – either volume was yours for $1.

All of the above was mailed to thousands of collectors and people who simply had old coins and wanted to know what they were worth. We can't help but wonder what and how many coins the person on the mailing address bought from – or sold to -- Mr. Mehl. We can only imagine, but either way it is safe to assume he was no doubt a satisfied customer who held onto this Mehl material for an lifetime.