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Content presented in The E-Sylum is not necessarily researched or independently fact-checked, and views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Wayne Homren 2017-03-15 full

Tonight's special issue brings sad news. Eric P. Newman, the elder statesman of American numismatics, passed away peacefully at home this afternoon. We have lost one of our greats.

Wayne Homren
Editor, The E-Sylum

Eric P. Newman

ERIC P. NEWMAN (1911-2017)

Here is the text of an obituary to appear in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. -Editor

ERIC PFEIFFER NEWMAN died Wednesday, November 15, 2017, at his home in Clayton at the age of 106. Devoted husband of the late Evelyn Edison Newman for 75 years, brother of the late Ivy Steele of Chicago, beloved father of Linda Newman Schapiro of New York and Andrew (Peggy) Newman of St. Louis, enthusiastic and inspiring “Opa” to his many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A life-long resident of Clayton, Eric attended John Burroughs School from the day the school opened in 1923 and obtained his engineering degree from MIT and his law degree from Washington University.

Eric was a great lawyer, inventor, and historian, but he was best known as a numismatic collector and scholar, generous philanthropist, and inveterate traveler. He was a member of The Explorer’s Club and, with Evelyn, pioneered travel to every corner of the globe. Over the years, they enjoyed hosting family and friends both in St. Louis and at their homes in Jamaica, Martha’s Vineyard, and the bluffs of Alton, Illinois. Eric established the Newman Money Museum in St. Louis and authored over 100 books and articles, principally in the field of numismatics.

Both directly and through his role in the Eric P. & Evelyn E. Newman Foundation, the Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society, the Harry Edison Foundation, and the Edison Family Foundation, he helped in the creation of St. Louis institutions such as the Butterfly House, The Magic House, the Eric P. Newman Education Center at Washington University, and many of the concepts and events dreamed up by his wife Evelyn. Their marriage was an enduring and remarkable model of love, partnership, effectiveness, and concern for others.

The family wants to express its heartfelt thanks to Eric’s many compassionate caregivers. Per Eric’s wishes, there will be no funeral or memorial service. Any gift to your favorite charity would be a welcome tribute to his life. Messages of sympathy may be sent to .


Len Augsburger compiled these tributes from across the internet. Thank you. -Editor


Mark Borckardt: Rest in Peace, Eric P. Newman. Gone too soon at the age of 106. You will be missed, but certainly never forgotten.

John Kraljevich: It's nearly impossible to live to be 106 and still be gone too soon. Eric Newman: numismatist, humanitarian, philanthropist, devoted husband and father, morally upright member of the human race. May his memory be a blessing to everyone his spirit touched.

Pierre Fricke: I really enjoyed my couple of half day visits with him a few years ago... sharp as a tack at 100 and I learned quite a lot!

Greg Heim: We mourn his loss and remember the man who was the greatest American Numismatist of all time. Although we didn't know Eric as well as some of our colleagues, Lisa and I were fortunate enough to have met him on a couple of occasions. We were lucky. Our condolences go out to his family, and to the entire numismatic community.

PCGS US Coin Forum:

Bill Jones: He was a truly great gentleman, and one of the greatest numismatists of all time. This marks the final passing of an era.

John Coyle: The definition of “strong hands.”

Rick Sear: He's likely smiling over a dish of ice cream right now, "a sorrow deep and soaring sweet.”

Jon Lerner: Blessed all he shared his love of coins, knowledge, and passion. 106 is the new 20, let’s all rejoice in a wonderful life and the legacy he leaves behind.

Tributes sent to Rittenhouse Society email group:

P. Scott Rubin: It was a great privilege to know Eric, he had a long and very useful life. His real legacy is in the individual researched articles and books he authored or co-authored, especially on Colonial U.S. Coinage and Paper Money. The Newman Portal is the icing on the cake to all who share his love of discovery and making it available to all.

Denis Loring: One of a kind, and there won't be another. Rest in peace, Eric.

Harry Salyards: The Newman Numismatic Portal is his memorial! What a legacy he leaves.

Neil Shafer: Feelings of sadness, realization of a great numismatist's life, personal loss - a tremendous individual who will be sorely missed by all.

Craig Sholley: I feel lessened, like some of the air just went out of the world. As soon as I read, I thought back to all of the wonderful numismatic discussions and arguments we had. We just lost a very dear friend and giant of a person.

Doug Mudd: He was one of the greats - his passing is a sad day for the hobby.

Joel Orosz: Sir Isaac Newton famously said “If I have seen farther, it is because I stand upon the shoulders of giants.” Eric P. Newman was the giant upon whose shoulders we all stand.

Bill Bugert: The world is a poorer place without him. He enriched all our lives.

Bill Fivaz: Numismatics has indeed lost a legend.

Roger Siboni: An epic man, who lead an epic life and left an epic legacy!

Ken Bressett: Eric was cherished and respected by all. A truly unique numismatic treasure.

David Lange: Always such a gentleman and so helpful to me, even in matters of limited interest to him. I will cherish our interactions over the years, and it was such a privilege to examine and attribute many of the pieces from his collection as they went to market. Numismatics is a far smaller science in his absence.

Tom DeLorey: Good night, Eric. Flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!

Syd Martin: He lived a good life, and will be sorely missed. He was a true gentleman whom I admired greatly — and enjoyed our discussions. A real role-model!

Anne Bentley: A giant among men and numismatists! How lucky I feel to have learned from him. We shall all miss him dearly.

Tributes received by me:

John Feigenbaum: This is very sad news but we can all rejoice in knowing that Eric had a rich and fulfilling life.

Len adds:

Len Augsburger: Eric and Evelyn Newman were, simply put, giants. Their commitment to service and scholarship will not be forgotten and remain an example to us all

I'm rarely at a loss for words, but I'm struggling to comprehend the stunning void left in Eric's absence. He has been present my entire numismatic career, both a friend and an inspiration. May his presence live on in all of us, and forever in his many great works and deeds. -Editor
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Here is my January 3, 2016 review of Eric Newman's biography. -Editor

Truth Seeker Life of Eric Newman First, I want to assure our numismatic readers (and that should be nearly all of you), that the focus of this book is numismatics. While the story of this centenarian's life is presented quite well, numismatics is the central focus of the tale. This should be evident in the choice of authors - Len Augsburger, Roger Burdette and Joel Orosz are among the top numismatic researchers active today, and they are well versed in the nuances of the American coin trade and its personalities and controversies of the last 100 years.

Newman's life has touched on and driven the story of several major numismatic events in this timespan, and all are addressed in this volume. Its title Truth Seeker is quite apt, for Newman's role in these events was as a tireless seeker and teller of numismatic truths, unfazed and undeterred by opponents who would rather paper over the facts for commercial or personal gain.

From the authors' Foreword:

Before we could dig into any of the documents, however, we exercised a privilege denied many biographers for our subject is still very much alive and in possession of an encyclopedic memory and quick wit. We sat with him around the table in the Newman family dining room, firing away our numismatic queries. Eric, age 102 at the time, seemed to draw energy from the cross-examination. In fact, each of our 13 sessions terminated only when his wife Evelyn would ask: “Are you boys just about done with your questions?”

Our blunt questions elicited unvarnished answers. Newman did not trim, did not equivocate. When it came to issues of right or wrong, ethical or unethical, there was only one word to describe his stance: uncompromising.

Eric P. Newman 100 years medal

Eric P. Newman 100 years medal From the Introduction:

Eric Newman grew up in a world today’s collector can only experience through paper and ink and faded photographs. He came before the millions of children who pulled Lincoln cents out of their pockets and plugged them into cardboard cutouts. There was no Internet, no television, not even radio in his Missouri hometown. Nor was St. Louis a hub for would-be coin collectors.

The city might still have been the “gateway to the West” in the early 20th century but it had no coinage mint, and its Assay Office – which served miners returning from Western gold fields – closed in 1911, the year Eric was born. By age 11, his only connection to the outside numismatic world was a downtown coin store, St. Louis Stamp and Coin Co. Young Eric, on a 5-cents-a-week allowance, began to buy inexpensive coins from Burdette Johnson, the store’s proprietor. Johnson’s role in Eric’s life as mentor, friend and eventually business partner would change both their lives.

Newman went on to get a business and engineering degree from MIT and a law degree from Washington University in St. Louis, to begin a career as a lawyer and business executive, to marry his sweetheart, Evelyn Frances Edison, and start a family.

Then there is Eric Newman as numismatic researcher and author. For years, research took priority over the convention scene for Newman. If he was going to get on a plane for numismatic purposes, he was more likely to be visiting a library than attending a coin show. “We didn’t have everything on microfilm in the early days, we didn’t have everything on computer,” he recalled. “We had to go from library to library and read every bit of it and make notes and try to piece together all the wonderful information that was out there.”

Newman’s first such article appeared in 1941, on the subject of an early St. Louis bank note, and was published by the Missouri Historical Society.

Part I covers Newman's early years in five short chapters, and Part II covers his family, wife Evelyn, and their globe-trotting family. But numismatics is a theme throughout, including the coin necklace worn by Evelyn when they first met.

Those 59 pages are just a warmup for the wild numismatic ride to follow. Remaining parts of the 418-page book cover Eric's acquisition of much of the Col. E.H.R. Green collection, his relationship with Burdette Johnson and numismatic scholars Wayte Raymond, F.C.C. Boyd, John J. Ford, Jr., Q. David Bowers, George Fuld and Don Taxay.

Extensive sections cover The Fantastic 1804 Dollar, the 1853 $20 U.S. Assay Office of Gold controversy, the Lilly Collection and counterfeit western bars, and the pursuit of Clapp Large cents switched out of the American Numismatic Society collection.

Along the way of course, the book covers Eric's research and publication of several landmark books including The Early Paper Money of America, and multiple important papers and monographs including those authored in his 2nd century.

Above is an image of one of the hardbound advance copies. The regular edition is not yet available for purchase. Stay tuned for more information. I'm still working my way through it, but am already convinced this is the one book an American numismatist must have in their library to understand the full sweep of numismatic research and commerce in the 20th century and beyond.

Hats off to Eric, and kudos to the author team for pulling these multiple important stories together in one handy volume. But even a large, well-researched book such as this cannot encompass all the facts and details; it provides the framework on which future research of the era will rest, opening new questions for 21st century truth-seekers to pursue. They will be standing on the shoulders of a numismatic giant, Eric P. Newman.

To read the complete article, see:

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