The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 11, Number 46, November 16, 2008, Article 15


Regarding our discussions on grumpy book and coin dealers, Bruce Smith writes:
The stories about grumpy book dealers and coin dealers reminds me of something which happened to me about 20 years ago. I was born and grew up in St. Louis, but I didn't have any interest in Missouri history or Missouri collectibles till I moved to Wisconsin in the mid 1970's to join the staff of Krause Publications.

At first I worked on the Standard Catalog of World Coins, but when that edition was finished, I was assigned to World Coin News. My title was Editorial Assistant, but at that time the entire staff of WCN was Russ Rulau and myself, so I have often fudged a bit and said I was assistant editor.

One day Russ asked me what I collected. I told him I collected Chinese coins. He then asked, "What else?" in a tone which suggested there should be another answer. I didn't really collect anything else at that time, but in thinking about it later, I realized I was interested in Missouri obsolete paper money, though it was too rare for me to collect.

I decided to collect Missouri bank checks. This led to Missouri tokens and Missouri post cards, and I realized I was homesick and didn't know much about Missouri history. I began buying books on the subject.

On one of my trips to St. Louis, I visited the usual used bookstores on Delmar and Aamitin's downtown, but I noticed another used bookstore in phonebook, on DeMun, near Washington University. I drove out there and found a small but well-stocked book store in an out-of-the-way area. I selected a pile of books, took them to the counter where they were totaled.

As I was paying for them, the owner noticed my Wisconsin drivers license. He informed me he could not sell the books to me because I was from out-of-state. It didn't matter whether I wanted to pay with cash, check or credit card, he would not sell me the books because he said he only sold books about Missouri to people who lived in Missouri. It didn't matter that I had lived the first 25 years of my life in St. Louis, nor that I was interested in researching Missouri history -- he would not sell me the books.

He explained that California book dealers would buy Missouri books from him and sell them out west where they would not be available to Missouri residents. When he had refused to sell to California book dealers, they sent "agents" to secretly buy his books! I left, with my pile of books sitting on his counter, and have never been back. To my surprise, he is still in business today.

In the 1930's and 1940's (before my time), the stamp business in New York was centered on Nassau Street, mostly in one multi-storied building, which was full of stamp dealers. Stamp dealers seem to be even more eccentric than coin dealers. One prominent dealer in the building had a sign on his door which read: "State your business and get out."

Joe Boling writes:
About grumpy dealers, here's my contribution, originally published in the MPCGram 180, 28 November 2000.

In the summer of 1976 I was driving across the country visiting friends, relatives, and dealers on my way to Fort Harrison (Indianapolis) for a 13-week school. I had been buying Japanese coins from Almanzar's in San Antonio for several years, so I wanted to drop in there (among several other shops in SA). I finally got there early one afternoon and asked to see their world paper money, emphasizing Asia (by that time my type set of Japanese coins had been completed).

I was told that they had a fair quantity of foreign paper money, but that they didn't have time to show it to me. I reminded them that their principal stock in trade was Latin American material, and that they never listed nor auctioned the kinds of notes I was interested in; if they were ever to sell them, it would have to be across the counter in their shop, and I was there as a ready buyer.

They still insisted that they did not have time to show me their carton of world notes. I asked why, as there were obviously a couple of clerks in the shop, in addition to other staff in the back room working on an auction. The response was that someone would have to sit with me while I went through the box, and they could not afford to dedicate a clerk to me for that purpose. I asked what it would take to hire a clerk to watch me; the answer was $20 an hour. I said OK, bring out the box and assign a clerk; here was my first $20.

I spent almost two hours going through that box, and found the following items that I can still recall and identify:
  • the first known violet Malaya $100 note (SB2178b) in AU, $3 (there are now 3-4 known) [and eight years later, only 3-4 more]
  • a counterfeit Central Reserve Bank of China 500 yuan note (SB1241aq), the first I had seen, in XF for $2.50
  • a Japanese military ten yen note (SB2011) with rubber stamps on the back of Lawrence P. Hoseman, whoever he is (F, 75 cents)
  • a Japanese military five yen note (SB2025) with odd vermilion and ink characters stamped and written on it (I still have not figured out their significance), VG for 30 cents

The total invoice reads:
consultation $20; misc notes $19.45
You can see from the $6.55 accounted for above that I bought a lot more notes that day, and it was the best $20 consultation fee I ever paid.

Wayne Homren, Editor

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