Three Degrees of Numismatic Separation!

I was honored to be featured in the latest installment
of “The Numismatic Bookie,” Joel J. Orosz’s popular column in Coin
It began with:


“Three numismatic auction catalogs are illustrated on
this page, each produced in a different century.  Remarkably, however, the
careers of the three men associated with them as collectors and dealers form an
unbroken line covering nearly all of American numismatic history, beginning in
the 1850s, and continuing to the present.”


Shown and discussed first was a catalog of the
collection of  Joseph Napoleon Tricot Levick (1828-1908), a leading
numismatic figure from the 1850s onward, whose specialties were wide and
included 1793 large cents, tokens (in particular), and other series. His name
usually appeared as J.N.T. Levick.  Dr. Orosz notes that by the time of
Levick’s passing in 1908, Fort Worth, Texas dealer B. Max Mehl was prominent,
having started in the trade circa 1900. Perhaps the two may have met – or
perhaps not. For certain, their careers overlapped.

The second catalog was of the Frederic Geiss
Collection sold by Mehl (1884-1957) in 1947. I had the good fortune of knowing
Mehl in the twilight of his life. At a dinner with him, Abe Kosoff, and Mollie
Kosoff, I suggested that he write his autobiography. By that time I had read
all of his catalogs and much about his life. “Why don’t you write it for me?”
he suggested. With that I return to the text of “The Numismatic Bookie”:


“The third catalog, created by Quentin David Bowers
(born 1938), is The Rarities Sale of July 31, 2002, featuring
multiple collections.  Dave has enjoyed an unparalleled career in
numismatics, becoming a coin dealer in 1953, while in high school, and
continuing up to the present day, in the process handling such immortal
numismatic collections as Garrett, Brand, Norweb, and Eliasberg.  Even
more impressive are his authorial credentials, having written more than 60
books on numismatic subjects, and having served as a Coin World columnist
since the early 1960s!  Shortly after starting his business, Dave
interviewed B. Max to learn about coin dealing from the acknowledged
master.  Dave imbibed Mehl’s lively descriptions, but added strong
emphasis upon the history, art and romance of coinage.  The results
showed, for in The Rarities Sale, a 1793 Chain America cent,
“sharpness of EF-40, but repaired and tooled,” went for $5,290, while an MS-63
BN lettered edge Wreath Cent sold for $18,400.  Despite having already
secured a central place in numismatic history, Dave continues to deal and write
(see elsewhere in this issue for the latest of his nearly 3,000 Coin

“J.N.T. Levick, B. Max Mehl, and Q. David Bowers have
far more in common than the use of initials in place of their first
names.  Their brilliant careers as collectors, dealers, authors, and hobby
builders began before the Civil War, and has overlapped, uninterrupted, to the
present.  These three catalogs associated with them underscore how much
(particularly prices) has changed during those 16 decades, and how much
(particularly rarity), has remained unaltered. And think of how young
numismatists who have worked with Dave, such as Kellen Hoard, bid fair to carry
that uninterrupted streak into its fourth century!”

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