Benjamin Maximillian Mehl was born in Lithuania in 1884 and moved with his family to Fort Worth, Texas in 1896 when he was 12 years old. Working out of his family’s home on East 2nd Street, young Mehl began buying and selling coins. By 1903 he had taken his first ad in The Numismatist, and the following year he began a series of ads in the Fort Worth Telegram. Also in 1904 he published his first-ever Star Coin Book that gave prices he would pay for rare coins; it was printed annually for several decades. “The rest is history” as is often said. Through the Star Coin Book and public auctions, B. Max Mehl became the most famous coin dealer of his time and was responsible, almost singlehandedly, for the birth of coin collecting among the “regular Joes” of the country. He operated for decades out of the Mehl Building, a three-story edifice he had built at the corners of Magnolia Avenue and Henderson Street in Fort Worth.
For more than 50 years Mehl’s business was coins. He handled many great rarities in his time, including an 1804 silver dollar and countless other special coins. Somewhere along the way, Mehl found time to create a good luck token for his customers which he probably distributed by mail. The obverse appears to have a standing armadillo whirling its tail like a lasso while draped in a toga! The reverse simply gives Mehl’s occupation and location, and his wish that “Good Luck Be With You” inside a horseshoe. Other than some 2X2 envelopes, this token is the only piece that I own that can be traced directly to B. Max Mehl. He passed away in 1957, four years before I began collecting coins, but his name lives on in our hobby decades later.