The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 14, Number 4, January 23, 2011, Article 2

JOSEPH R. LASSER 1923 - 2011

George Kolbe writes:

Joseph R. Lasser I was saddened to learn of the death of Joseph R. Lasser. Over the years, I encountered Joe at New York coin conventions and once or twice a year, sometimes more, we would converse by telephone about various topics: "America's Foreign Coins" and their intricate history often being principal among them.

Joe had a rare enthusiasm and an inquiring, indefatigable intellect. No doubt instrumental to his success in the financial world, these qualities produced an immeasurable numismatic bounty. His involvement with Colonial Williamsburg, the American Numismatic Society, and his writings only hint at the impact. More importantly, he was a warm caring family man and, in various ways, he helped a number of collectors and dealers who became, in some part, extended members of his family. Joe will be sorely missed.

I was also sad to learn in Friday's issue of the ANS enews that "Mr. Joseph R. Lasser, former Council Member, scholar, collector, benefactor and friend to the American Numismatic Society, passed away in January." Joe was one of the numismatic greats of this country. Earlier in The E-Sylum he shared with us how he'd learned the ropes of the hobby as a boy from his neighbor Julius Guttag. See below for excerpts from these earlier E-Sylum articles. -Editor

"Julius was the numismatist and he was my first teacher in the field of coins... If I had been a 'satisfactory' child during the week, I was privileged to visit Julius at his home on Sunday and carry the trays of coins Julius was studying from the second floor tower and safe to Julius' first floor study. It necessarily was a slow and precise trip.

Notes would be taken; coins would be described and I, the 11-12 year old student, would be enriched by Mr. Guttag's knowledge. He was extremely strong in Latin American material and the catalogue of his collection still is a worthwhile resource."

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: JOE LASSER ON HIS NUMISMATIC MENTOR, JULIUS GUTTAG (

I find it difficult to believe that counterfeit Lions were struck in Mexico during our colonial period. There was no specific incentive to create false coins in Mexico and it's not logical to think that someone could positively identify where a counterfeit was minted.

Mr. Hallman apparently has his story backwards. It is possible (and probable) that the Dutch Lion Dollar he found was made with Mexican silver. From about 1550 to 1750 65-70% of all the new silver that came into the world was from Spanish colonial Mexican and Peruvian (today's Bolivia) mines. As the arguably largest commercial sailing nation -- that did not have any silver mines -- it is completely logical and normal that Lion Dollars could -- and did -- reach Pennsylvania.

After all, the Dutch controlled the Colony of New York until the 1660's and some of the first paper money of New York in 1709 stated its value in Lion Dollars. Yes, there are "imitation" Lion Dollars minted in several other European countries -- primarily Italy and Germany -- although there is one from Transylvania -- that clearly illustrate the trade currency role of Lion Dollars. It was a "Bullion World" and Mr. Hallman's find is another small confirming episode.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: JOE LASSER ON DUTCH LION DOLLARS IN COLONIAL AMERICA (

Thanks to Erik Goldstein of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation for providing the above photo of Joe and his dates of birth and death: September 25, 1923 and January 17, 2011. Other numismatists have written remembrances in online - here's one from Jean Elsen. -Editor

Today the numismatic community of the old and the new world loses the kindest and most generous coin collector and numismatist. I had the privilege to have a very close and friendly relation with Joe for over 30 years. His letters and telephone calls were always so warm and encouraging.

He was a man of his word, a generous person, always interested in learning new things about numismatics and related history, an expert on Dutch and Belgian 16th century silver coins and coins of the besieged cities in the 80 Years War.

Joe was my best friend in the United States. He visited me in Brussels several times. I will miss him.

Jean Elsen Bruxelles Belgique (Belgium)

To read the complete article, see: JOSEPH R. LASSER (

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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