Pete Smith published a great article on coin dealer B. Max Mehl in CoinWeek February 3, 2016. Here's an excerpt; be sure to
read the complete article online. -Editor
Benjamin Maximillian Mehl was born in Lodz, Russia (now Poland), on November 5, 1884. He came to America in April 1895 with his parents,
three brothers and a sister. As a young man he worked as a shoe clerk before entering the coin business. His first ad ran in The Numismatist
in December of 1903.
In February of 1904 Mehl placed a full-page ad in The Numismatist. Near the top it stated, “I beg to offer, subject to be unsold,
the following Choice Coins.” Near the bottom, “Send 25c for my HUB COIN BOOB.”
At this time dealers could buy The Hub Coin Book from the publisher, Alexander and Co, and imprint their dealer name and address
on the cover. Mehl sold copies of the book and sent them out to promote his business.
Mehl spent $12.50 to place an ad in Colliers Magazine in 1906. With this, his advertising branched out into the popular media.
This continued to prove to be a successful advertising strategy.
In 1906 Mehl offered his Star Coin Book for a dime. This was inspired and heavily copied from the Hub Coin Book.
Mehl is credited with popularizing the hobby, once dominated by more wealthy collectors. People began to search their change hoping to
find “a fortune in your pocket.” Streetcars were delayed while the conductors examined nickels presented for the fare.
By 1916, Mehl was successful enough to construct a building for his offices. He hired architect Wiley Clarkson to design the building at
1204 Magnolia Avenue. It had commercial space on the ground floor with apartments on the second and third floors. Above the doorway was the
image of a Fugio Cent in cast stone. Long after his business closed, the building became vacant and fell into disrepair. It was saved from
demolition, remodeled and repaired, and remains in Fort Worth today.
During the Depression Mehl advertised “Will pay $50 for a nickel of 1913 with Liberty Head, not Buffalo.” Only five 1913 Liberty Nickels
were struck and they lacked Mint authorization. Mehl knew they were in strong hands and none would be offered. His intention was to make
money by selling coin books instead of buying 1913 nickels.
Mehl died on September 28, 1957. Mary Ellen Ferguson carried on the Mehl business until her death in 1961. She had served as Mehl’s
executive secretary for more than 40 years.
To read the complete article, see:
Numismatic History – Coin Dealer B. Max Mehl – A Texas
Master of Coins (www.coinweek.com/education/b-max-mehl-a-texas-master-of-coins/)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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