Jeff Burke submitted this piece about Scott Rubin's recent talk on numismatic research given to the New Jersey Numismatic Society.
P. Scott Rubin Speaks at May Meeting of the New Jersey Numismatic Society
This article is dedicated to the memory of Dave Ginsburg, distinguished numismatic scholar and researcher.
Scott Rubin was a special guest speaker for the May meeting of the New Jersey Numismatic Society at the Madison (NJ) Public Library on
May 16, 2016. Rubin, a lifelong New Jersey resident, started collecting coins in 1955. He has written articles for the ANS, ANA, NBS and
Coin World. Scott has conducted research for many numismatic auction houses such as Stack’s, Bowers & Merena, Superior and
Heritage. Rubin is retired from the State of New Jersey where he worked for nearly forty years as a computer analyst (from bio supplied by
the speaker). At the present time, Scott collects New Jersey Colonial currency.
Ray Williams, a Colonial coin and currency specialist, introduced the speaker. Rubin's topic was “Numismatic Research from Auction
Catalogues, Stories and Insights on How to Use Them.” The evening started out well for Rubin when he won the 50/50 (beginner's luck)!
Rubin recounted that in 1955, he noticed that coin dealers had old auction catalogues lying around. He started getting catalogues from
Kagin's and Stack’s. Although Scott found very few specialized coin books in the 1960s, a few were available on half cents and large cents
so he started collecting those coins. Scott began to do research for Walter Breen and Roger Cohen from information he gleaned from auction
Scott talked about how to use an auction catalogue and the ways in which dealers such as B. Max Mehl marketed their products. Rubin
taught himself how to discern which dealers could be trusted with their photographs. Images of coins which appeared in catalogues weren’t
necessarily the coins that were in that sale! He also investigated how to decipher catalogue pedigrees and identify frequent errors found
in numismatic catalogues published prior to and including the 1960s. Fortunately, dedicated cataloguers at companies like Heritage and
Stack's Bowers are doing extensive research to ascertain correct pedigrees. As an example, Scott cited the phenomenal job done by John
Kraljevich who conducted pedigree research for the Pogue Auction catalogues.
Rubin owns over 10,000 U.S. numismatic auction catalogues and numerous foreign auction catalogues as well. He continues to keep computer
records on 212 federal issue U.S. coins and has gone through each of the 10,000 catalogues at least once. Three numismatic dealers of note
that Scott dealt with were Frank Katen, Aaron Feldman and James Brown. Scott shared some of his favorite memories and stories about these
figures. Rubin noted that we are now living in the golden age of numismatic research with the internet and other tools available such as
the Newman Portal to help get more numismatic material online!
After NJNS President Dave Bailey thanked Scott for his exemplary and humorous talk, the audience had numerous questions for Rubin during
the Q & A session. Society members were grateful to Rubin for making the long trek from Lawrenceville, NJ, to spend the evening with
us. It was a night to remember.
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