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The E-Sylum: Volume 25, Number 2, January 9, 2022, Article 4

HARVEY G. STACK (1928-2022)

Stack's Bowers Galleries published this press release January 5, 2022 on the passing of Harvey G. Stack. -Editor

  Harvey G Stack

It is with great sadness we announce the passing of our friend and founder, Harvey G. Stack on January 3, 2022. His leadership over the years spearheaded our operations and his kindness and mentorship to staff, collectors, dealers, numismatic organizations and colleagues will never be forgotten.

Harvey was born in Manhattan on June 3, 1928, the son of Morton M. Stack and Muriel Stack. He grew up in Bronx and Jamaica, New York and attended NYU. His life revolved around his family and around numismatics, as generations of the Stack family built upon the rare coin business founded in 1933 by Harvey's father, Morton, and his uncle Joseph at 690 Sixth Avenue in Manhattan. Presenting their first public auction in 1935, Stack's quickly progressed to larger premises and a growing reputation. Although as a youngster Harvey worked after school and during vacations at the firm's Manhattan coin store, it wasn't until 1947 that he went to work full time for Stack's Rare Coins, a career that would last more than 70 years. As one of the second generation of family members to join the firm, Harvey worked alongside his father, uncle, and cousins Norman and Benjamin, supported by a staff of experts that comprised many of the most well-known professional numismatists of the 20th century.

In 1953 Stack's moved to a gallery at 123 West 57th Street, a location that would be home to the firm for more than 60 years and become a popular destination, known as the clubhouse for collectors from all over the world. As a family member, Harvey's responsibilities were wide ranging, assisting clients in the store, traveling to pick up collections and attend conventions and coin shows, cataloging auction lots, auctioneering, and any other work that needed to be done. He became an expert in many areas of numismatics and was able to translate his warm and jovial personality into long-term relationships with the collectors and dealers he worked with over his career.

The decades following World War II were times of great growth for Stack's. Besides opening a new and improved location, they were tapped to present at auction many important collections including Anderson-Dupont, Davis-Graves, Charles A. Cass (Empire), R.L. Miles, Massachusetts Historical Society, Samuel Wolfson, and George Walton, as well as conducting public auctions in conjunction with major numismatic shows including the American Numismatic Association and the Metropolitan New York conventions. In the 1970s, Harvey's son Larry and daughter Susan joined the firm, bringing in a third generation.

Harvey and the Stack family were instrumental in building some of the greatest collections of their time, including the cabinet of gold coins assembled by Josiah K. Lilly, chairman of the Eli Lilly & Co. pharmaceutical company. After Lilly's death in 1966, his collection of over 6,000 coins became part of the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian, a process aided by Harvey and other members of the Stack family. Over the decades, Harvey and the Stack family also built a relationship with Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr., who accumulated the only complete collection of United States coins ever formed. In 1976, when the nation was celebrating its Bicentennial, Harvey and the firm helped facilitate the display of Eliasberg's incomparable collection at the United States Mint in Philadelphia.

Harvey Stack's role in numismatics was not purely business. He fought for clearer import regulations on coins from overseas and testified before a congressional subcommittee leading up to the Hobby Protection Act of 1973. He worked with the American Numismatic Association and other professionals in the effort to develop a standardized grading system for coins. In 1996 he appeared before the U.S. House Banking Committee to propose the 50 State Quarters Program, which brought countless new collectors into the hobby. Harvey Stack served on the board of the Professional Numismatists Guild for nearly a decade and acted as its president for two years beginning in 1989. In 1993 he received the PNG's Founder's Award, their highest honor, for his dedication to the hobby. Over the years, Harvey was a great supporter of the American Numismatic Association, the American Numismatic Society, and the Smithsonian Institution. He was a long-term member of the International Association of Professional Numismatists, as well as numerous other numismatic societies.

As the 20th century turned to the 21st , Harvey Stack and Stack's were still going strong, as Larry and Harvey brought to auction the incredible John J. Ford, Jr. Collection, and many other famous name cabinets. In addition, they partnered with Sotheby's in the record-breaking sale of the first 1933 Saint-Gaudens double eagle to cross the auction block. In 2011, Stack's merged with Bowers and Merena to create Stack's Bowers Galleries, one of the top numismatic auction firms in the country and a company that continues the Stack family's legacy of presenting important numismatic cabinets and realizing record-breaking prices. Harvey remained involved in the new business until the very end, telling the company's history, mentoring staff members, and maintaining his relationships within the hobby. Most recently he and Larry worked with the estate of long-time friends and clients Mark and Lottie Salton to bring their outstanding collection of world and ancient coins to market. It is unfortunate that Harvey will not be there to see the fruits of his labor as this remarkable cabinet crosses the auction block in 2022 and 2023.

Harvey was predeceased by his parents, his uncle Joseph, his cousins Norman and Ben. He is survived by his wife, Harriet, children Larry (Loretta) and Susan (Larry), grandchildren Rebecca (Jimmy) and Matthew (Tanya), and five great-grandchildren: Bryce, Avery, Dylan, Brielle and James.

Services will be private. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the American Numismatic Society or a charity of choice. The family can be contacted at Harveygs6328@gmail.com.

I'm so sorry to hear this news. Harvey was a treasure, and a longtime contributor to The E-Sylum. I received an email including a nice Happy New Year greeting from him on December 30th, and three more notes on New Year's Day.

He was an enthusiastic E-Sylum fan and I recall a long late evening phone conversation with him several years ago where he gushed about the quality of our content and was astounded that our circulation wasn't larger than Coin World, Numismatic News and the ANA rolls combined. And when I was starting a website to search numismatic content on the web (a project that led to my working to help create the Newman Numismatic Portal), Harvey was the first to step up with a donation to help cover the costs.

I looked forward to his biweekly articles on the history of his family firm. Hearing directly from hobby personalities who were there in the flesh as numismatic history unfolded is the best part of The E-Sylum. He will be greatly missed. -Editor

David Menchell writes:

"It's sad to lose such a giant in the numismatic fraternity, even at 92. He was still quite active and clearly loved the hobby. Whenever I would see him, he was always cordial and engaging. A real gentleman who worked to make the hobby better for both dealers and collectors. My condolences to Larry, Susan and the Stack family."

Tony Terranova writes:

"?Harvey was a big influence in numismatics. All positive. He, Norman, Larry and Susan are, and will always be, a huge part of my life. I'll miss him greatly!!
Anthony Terranova and family"

Dr. Ute Wartenberg Kagan of the American Numismatic Society writes:

"I will greatly miss Harvey. His old-school elegance and impeccable manners, combined with an astonishing knowledge and work ethics, made him stand out. More importantly though, Harvey and the Stack family have shown that coin collecting (and dealing) is largely about people and friendships that are often for life. This was certainly true for Harvey, who stayed in touch with many of his friends until his end. I was fortunate to have been one of them."

John Kraljevich writes:

"It will always be one of the greatest honors of my life to have been accorded the chance to work shoulder to shoulder with Harvey Stack. Chin to chin might be more appropriate — the man loved to talk, to regale, to relate, to share stories about the million and one people he met in the course of his lifetime in numismatics. He loved and knew coins, and was wowed by something neat as much as anyone, but relationships were the straw that really stirred his drink. He was a gentleman, a raconteur, and a family man besides being an institution. The folks who grieve Harvey's loss are many, and my heart goes out to Larry, Susan, Harriet, and all who loved him."

David Palmer writes:

"As with many of us, I knew and liked Harvey. The first time I met him was at a Stack's auction lot viewing. I said "Hello, Mr. Stack" and he held out his hand and said "Call me Harvey" I thought that would be the end of it, as we shook hands. He asked what I collected, and we spoke for a few minutes about Sheldon variety Large Cents, and Colonials. When a chair opened up for me (I am still convinced he helped that to happen), he said "Don't let me hold you up." Ever after, he remembered my name, and was always a gentleman. Certainly not everyone in this hobby/business is like that. I will always remember him fondly."

David Lisot writes:

"Harvey Stack was a true gentleman of numismatics. I remember Harvey when he was on 57th St in New York in the 1980's. Although I was just a young man in my 20's the venerable Mr. Stack would always come out to greet me. We became friends over the years and I had the opportunity to interview and videotape him several times. You can see a plethora of videos featuring Harvey on the Newman Numismatic Portal. Harvey was one of the "old school" coin dealers. He grudgingly accepted numerical grading and coins trading on computer. Harvey worked tirelessly to promote numismatics. He will be missed.

Here is a CoinWeek video on YouTube where Harvey talks about the essence of being a coin collector."

To watch the video, see:
Harvey Stack: Essence of Being a Coin Collector. S15-15 VIDEO: 1:58. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdiSDw6jn74)

Kevin Lipton writes:

"The passing of Harvey has led me to a great deal of reflecting. I remember it like yesterday when my grandpa took me into the store on West 57th for the first time when I was just 12 years old. I was in awe of walking into the "holy shrine" of the coin business! Imagine my shock when Harvey noticed me drooling over the showcases and came over to introduce himself to me! This started what became a 50 year (OMG) relationship with this amazing man. There are no words I can express to explain what a profound influence he had on me throughout my career in the coin business. From his encouragement as a teenager to his tolerating my "frisky years" between 1979-1981, Harvey was always a mentor and a friend. Somehow I am now a grown man turning 63 in a couple of months after what seems like a flash in time. Harvey was always there for me with some great advice and a kind word.

"I know the Stack family will be in peace knowing Harvey passed so gently at the end."

Alan V Weinberg writes:

"I knew Harvey since 1958 when I first entered his store. He was a real people person and often liked to just chat and tell stories. Nearly a decade ago, realizing that Harvey was aging and might possibly take his knowledge and stories with him, I urged him to start writing his memoirs and that started his many interesting tales in print. At times I urged him to comment about negative experiences with certain deceased collectors and dealers, which would amuse the hobby but he refused, not wanting to comment negatively about those who passed on.

"Even until this New Years Day Harvey was sending greetings to his many friends and sharing humorous emails. He was extraordinarily sharp til his very last day, which is a remarkable accomplishment in itself. I have no doubt that his love for and involvement in this hobby of numismatics was a major factor in his living a long life."

Jeff Rock writes:

"I was so sorry to hear about Harvey's passing. I thought for sure he would sail well past 100 years old, and I suspect most people would have had a hard time believing he was in his 90's, as he always seemed in good health and spirits, and definitely active. Harvey was a class act all around, really the old school type of dealer that dressed and acted like you would have expected in the 1950's - yet he never seemed old or fuddy-duddy.

"As any E-Sylum reader can attest his mind was working just as well, and I know many readers looked forward to his contributions as he detailed the coin scene and the Stack's dealings over the decades - especially when it got into the decades that we were there for. Our hobby has certainly lost some giants in recent years, and though the Old Guard may be shrinking at an alarming rate they have left behind a wealth of memories - and in Harvey's case some memories that will be read for decades to come so people can get an idea of what the hobby was like in a given year. His memories of dealing with collectors like Eliasberg and Lilly were riveting, and he may well have been the last person around who had this kind of first-hand knowledge"

David Gladfelter writes:

"Harvey was gregarious and approachable, willing to share stories with anyone regardless of experience or background. He was fair in his dealings – honest as the day is long. He was also a generous person as revealed by the press release. I hope that the firm will gather together his Numismatic Family stories and publish them as a series, virtually or on paper."

  Harvey Stacks Remembers 1940s

Mike Hodder writes:

"My family and I owe a deep debt of gratitude to Harvey Stack and his family. I worked for Stack's in the 90's. Harvey was my boss but as the years went by he became a sort of uncle to me. He could be a tough man of business but was loyal to his staff. He loved the coin business and most of all the excitement around auctions.

"In the weeks before an auction sale, when the catalogue was in bidders' hands, Harvey would entertain important clients in the back office. The night of the sale he'd take auction staff out to dinner at Patsy's where we'd all chow down on Italian food on the house. At sale time Harvey liked to call the first couple of hundred lots, his style of auctioning being classic and old fashioned: he'd announce the lot number, say something about the rarity or desirability of the piece, then ask for an opening bid with the words "Your pleasure please?"

"He trusted his staff to do the jobs they'd been hired for, even if he wasn't entirely sure they knew what they were doing. I remember when I got and catalogued the Perkins Collection of Connecticut Coppers, a highly important variety collection bigger than almost every other in private hands. Harvey wasn't sure giving a full catalogue page description and an enlarged photo to a coin that looked like someone had driven over it with a tractor and then punched a hole through it but when it sold for five figures he gave me a smile because he knew the rest of the sale would do OK.

"Towards the end of my time at Stack's Harvey allowed me to sit at the partner's desk where Norman had sat. I felt honored. Harvey was what he'd have called a mensch, a real person, one worthy of respect. The coin business has lost one of its greats and is diminished for it."

Ken Bressett writes:

"My most sincere thoughts and condolences go out to the Stack family at this time of sorrow. Harvey was a true colleague and friend to many, and one that I valued for more years than I can remember. We both joined the ANA as Junior Members in 1947, corresponded frequently, and were both looking forward to 2022 and celebrating our 75th anniversary of numismatic activities.

"Over the years he worked unstintingly for the betterment of the hobby, including the construction and publication of consolidated grading standards, and implementation of the 50 State Quarters program. Our personal working relationship stood the test of time despite distinctly different personalities, and frequent differences of opinion. Arguing with Harvey became an enjoyable ritual, likely shared with many. He was unique in many ways and always a central figure in current events pertaining to numismatics.

"I will forever treasure the holiday greeting I received from him just two weeks before his passing. It very succinctly described our special kinship.
---Ken Bressett

HAPPY HOLIDAYS OLD TIMER.

AS AN ANA MEMBER AS LONG AS YOU, AND WANTING TO GET TO THE NEXT BIG ANNIVERSARY

TOGETHER, AND THEN MANY MANY MORE. CONGRATULATIONS ON ALL THE GREAT WORK YOU DO TO KEEP NUMISMATICS "WELL AND GROWING", AND BEING A CLOSE FRIEND FOR SO MANY DECADES.

WISHING YOU CONTINUED "HEALTH, HAPPINESS AND THE TIME TO ENJOY IT"

HAPPY HOLIDAYS,
HARVEY"

  Harvey Stack Numismatic Family 1983

Harvey was definitely an "ALL CAPS" guy in email. One of the last of a kind.

See Pete Smith's article elsewhere in this issue for more on Harvey and the Stack's Bowers Galleries firm. -Editor

To read a CoinWeek piece by Charles Morgan, see:
Remembering Numismatic Icon Harvey Stack, Co-Founder of Stack's Bowers (https://coinweek.com/people-in-the-news/in-memoriam/remembering-numismatic-icon-harvey-stack-co-founder-of-stacks-bowers/)



Wayne Homren, Editor

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