The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization devoted to the study and enjoyment of numismatic literature. For more information please see our web site at


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Terry White, Treasurer
Numismatic Bibliomania Society
P. O. Box 39 Hilliard, OH 43026-1278s


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Today's special issue brings sad news - numismatic literature dealer Fred Lake has died. We have a note from his business successor Alan Workman, a biography of Fred, a republication of a collection of tributes on his recent retirement, and a Newman Numismatic Portal update announcing the digitization of Fred's catalogs.

Wayne Homren
Editor, The E-Sylum

Function Associates Sales 1-3

FRED LAKE (1929-2016)

Alan Workman writes:

It is with a heavy heart that I'm informing you that Fred Lake passed away late Christmas evening at the VA hospital in St Petersburg. Joan called me Monday afternoon to give me the news. Fred was like a grandfather to me and he was a good friend and mentor. He will be greatly missed. Based on what Fred wrote for his obit, plus information from his website, and some other sources, I put the following together.

Fred Lake Fred Lovett Lake III of St. Petersburg, Florida died on December 25, 2016 at the Bay Pines Veterans Administration Hospital. He is survived by his loving wife, Joan Lawton Lake. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts on April 22, 1929. His Mother was Myrtle (Bobbe) Jane Robertson and his Father was Fred L. Lake. Jr. His grandfather, Fred L. Lake once managed the Boston Red Sox (1908-1909). Fred lived his early years in Boston and graduated from Boston Public Latin School (1947) and Middlebury College in Vermont (1952).

He joined the United States Marine Corps Reserve in 1947 and became active in 1952 with the rank of 2nd Lt. advancing to 1st Lt. while in Flight Training at Pensacola, Florida. He left flight training and began active duty with the 2nd Marine Division in 1953, advancing to rank of Captain and command of an infantry company. He finished his tour with the Marine Corps in 1958.

He began a career in the hospitality industry with ownership of the Harborview Club on Cape Cod, then to the Old Red Mill and the Hermitage at Mount Snow, Vermont. Fred then began a management career with Red Lobster, Sheraton Hotels, and Golf Clubs in Massachusetts. He married Joan Lawton in 1977 and they moved to Marshfield, Massachusetts.

They moved to St. Petersburg, Florida, in early 1989, where they began Function Associates. The first Function Associates sale of numismatic literature was participated in by several hundred collectors. In May of 2000, Fred began holding mail bid sales as Lake Books. He had issued over 125 sales with some 88,000 lots of numismatic reference material being listed for sale.

Fred discovered his love for numismatic literature first as a collector of early American coppers. As a coin collector, Fred Lake was keenly aware of the value of having research material available to consult. The old Aaron Feldman dictum, "Buy the Book Before the Coin", was reinforced by visits to the coin shop of Frank and Laurese Katen. The Katens stressed the importance of education in numismatics and they became good friends and mentors who fostered the growth of Lake Books as a numismatic book seller.

During his tenure at Lake Books, Fred had traveled extensively acquiring consignments and visiting many coin shows where Lake Books had maintained a "free" table at which a wealth of books and catalogs were distributed to the public. One noted numismatist dubbed Fred "The Johnny Appleseed of Numismatic Literature."

Fred was an active member in a number of numismatic organizations including the Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS), Early American Coppers (EAC), American Numismatic Association (ANA) and has been an officer on the Board of Directors and the Staff photographer of the Florida United Numismatists (FUN) since 1998, retiring in early 2016. He was a pillar of the numismatic literature community, a mentor, a colleague, and a good friend. He will be greatly missed.

Alan adds:

I will set up a special page through my website where people can make donations through Paypal for a memorial ad in Coin World. Anything that comes in above the ad cost I will give to Joan to help with whatever expenses she has.

Here's the link to Alan's web site: . Please do consider a donation and adding your name to the ad. I spoke to Fred just a few weeks ago and he was at peace, having lived a full happy life. He'd seen the earlier published reflections on his career in numismatic literature and was glad to know he'll be remembered. -Editor


Here is a republication of several reminiscences about Fred Lake on the occasion of his retirement. -Editor

Jeff Reichenberger writes:

Best wishes to Fred Lake. My first ventures into numismatic literature auctions were through Fred's offerings. Always cordial and easy to communicate with, I enjoyed the homespun nature with which he conducted business. He will be missed.

Len Augsburger writes:

I never met Fred in person but of course “knew” him from his sale catalogs that arrived every two to three months. Fred didn’t carry the world’s most expensive literature but what he delivered was solid value sale after sale. I might spend only $50 or $100 at a time, but even this small amount ensured a box of interesting items. The service was reliable and for nearly 30 years Fred provided yeoman service to the hobby, moving items from library to library.

On one occasion I found myself in need of a copy of Lake Books (then known as Function Associates) sale catalog #1, including the library of Harry X Boosel, and Fred immediately forwarded multiple copies gratis.

In pulling the Lake Books catalogs into the Newman Portal, I was struck at the bibliographic cleanliness – the series is almost perfectly numbered (a surprisingly rare occurrence in our corner of the world), with just a single typo on the cover of sale #45. We are all in debt to Fred for filling gaps in our libraries, and we wish the best to his successor, Alan Workman.

John W. Adams writes:

Fred's 125 sales featured solid content, typically free of the all-star items that require one page descriptions. Clearly, his catalogues were a labor of love at the same time that they enabled hundreds of buyers to locate items of relatively low value but high worth. This will not be recommended by the Harvard Business School as a business model, but it was and is a model for enriching our hobby. Fred, all of us are profoundly grateful for the valuable energy that you expended on our behalf.

Syd Martin writes:

I have not had the honor of meeting Fred, although I have interacted with him on both the “buy” and “sell” sides. I’ve always found him to be extremely helpful and always willing to provide advice. The hobby will be the less for his exit.

Dan Hamelberg writes:

Fred Lake in retirement. We will miss him. I always managed to find gems in his auctions over the years, and always looked forward to his sales. Fred's string of some 125 sales will leave a legacy of how to properly run the business of numismatic literature. Reliable, honest and always helpful. Active with the F.U.N. organization as well, I think Fred discovered the 36 hour day.

David Fanning writes:

I was saddened to hear of Fred Lake’s retirement. Since 1989, Fred has provided the numismatic community with a valuable service as a numismatic bookseller. He has often been the go-to guy when you needed a particular catalogue or reference work, and I have joined many others in being a regular participant in his sales. He’ll be missed as an active bookseller, not only because of his obvious affection for the hobby but for his straightforward, kind and honest personality. His integrity is rock solid, and I can honestly say I’ve never heard a word spoken that questioned it. The hobby could use a few more men like Fred and I’ll miss his participation.

Joel Orosz writes:

Fred Lake has left an indelible impression upon numismatic bibliomania. The mark of longevity and excellence in coins and literature has always been the cataloging of 100 sales. Fred cleared that mark, and before his recent retirement, got a quarter of the way to the next hundred. Remarkably, he began selling numismatic literature not in his youth, but rather at the age of 61, when most people are pondering a sedate retirement.

Dozens of books on my library shelves came directly from Function Associates sales (Fred's first trade style), and Lake Books, including a couple of the rarest books I possess. I'm proud to say that I was his customer from his first mail bid sale in 1989, and that when the Newman Numismatic Portal needed Lake sales 1 through 59 in order to scan Fred's entire output, I was able to provide them. Fred made that history; I was happy to be able to assure that all of it would be preserved for posterity. Fred, take a bow for a career never to be forgotten in the annals of numismatic bibliomania!

I know Fred mainly as a consignor to his sales. Every now and then I would scan through my shelves and pull out material I felt I could live without in order to free up shelf space for other purchases. Like clockwork I would get a nice check from Fred after the sale and the money would quickly disappear into payment of household bills. I told my wife I was making withdrawals from The Bank of Fred. We thank you!

Neither Fred nor I will ever forget the raucous lunch we had one time with our mutual friend John Burns. I've forgotten which convention we were at or even who else was present, but the conversation devolved to locker room jokes and stories that would make Donald Trump blush. I don't think any of us have ever laughed so hard in our lives - Fred later told me his sides were sore for a week. If you need a good laugh, buy me a beer sometime. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:


The latest additions to the Newman Numismatic Portal are the numismatic literature sale catalogs of dealer Fred Lake. Project Coordinator Len Augsburger provided the following report. -Editor

Function Associates Sales 1-3

Fred Lake conducted a series of 125 mail bid auction sales from 1989 to 2016. These have all been posted on the Newman Portal with the gracious consent of Lake Books. Fred named his sales after consignors, although when lacking a “named” consignment he would randomly pick the name of a Florida city. My hometown of Plantation, Florida never made the cut, although nearby Fort Lauderdale was featured on the cover of the 22nd sale in 1995.

These catalogs are now searchable on the Newman Portal, most easily by entering a publication title. We see, for example, that a copy of The Mint on Carson Street, by Rusty Goe, sold for $77 on a $45 estimate in the 104th sale in 2010 - likely a good deal for the bidder as this out-of-print work is currently in demand. Similarly, while an original Attinelli (A Bibliography of American Numismatic Auction Catalogs, 1876) is not found in the Lake Books sales, the Quarterman reprint (1976) has about twenty appearances.

Over nearly a 30-year period, Lake acted as a smooth conduit, moving large quantities of numismatic literature from library to library, and these catalogs will serve as a record of his service to the hobby.

The Lake Books sale catalogs are at:

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