E-Sylum Feature Writer and
American Numismatic Biographies author Pete Smith submitted this
article on early American copper specialist Doug Bird, who passed away this weekend. Thank you. Sorry to hear the news. The first image was added courtesy Al Boka via Mark Borckardt.
Douglas F(rancis) Bird (1944-2023)
An email message from Chuck Heck on Saturday, January 7, had the notice that long-time EAC
dealer Doug Bird had died on Thursday, January 5, 2023.
Doug Bird was born on June 25, 1944, in Boston, Massachusetts. He received a BBA from
Loyola University in Los Angeles in 1966. The Army called him to service during 1967-68
including a thirteen-month tour in Vietnam. He was married with a son, Doug Jr.
Doug began collecting coins in 1953 and joined EAC in 1973. He was LM-2763 with the ANA.
He was employed in the real world as director of human resources 1969 to 1982. During that
time, he was a part-time coin dealer. He made coin dealing a full-time business in 1982
specializing in early copper and type coins.
In the 1980's, McLauglin and Robinson were conducting coin auctions out east. Doug Bird and
Gary M. Ruttenburg had an affiliated operation out west.
In 2001, Doug and Steve Carr began teaching a popular class on early copper coins at the ANA
Summer Seminar in Colorado Springs. They also conducted seminars on grading and counterfeit
detection at the EAC conventions. Many of the current generation of collectors got a solid
foundation in the hobby through these courses. The two were presented with
Numismatics degrees at Summer Seminar in 2015.
Bird consigned 179 pieces to the Goldbergs for auction on February 16, 2020. These were better
quality coins that he set aside and never offered with inventory.
At the time of the sale, ANA president Steve Ellsworth presented Doug with an ANA
Presidential Award. Doug helped establish and sponsored the ANA Early American Copper Coin
I recall an incident with Doug that I found amusing at the time. I had stopped being a player in
the large cent game about twenty years earlier. I returned to the show circuit in 2005 as the
employee of a local coin dealer. Another employee was a married woman well known in the
One evening after the show, we went to dinner in a large dining room filled with other coin
dealers. Doug spotted us from across the room and stood up and eyeballed us as we went to our
table. I don't know if he was thinking
What is she doing with him? or
What is he doing with
her?' His interest and curiosity was so obvious that I found it amusing.
When I was active in EAC forty years ago, many of my friends in the hobby were about my age.
It comes as no surprise that they are all older now. Or perhaps I should say, those who have
survived are all older now. Doug Bird was one day younger than me. The death of friends in the
hobby hits us hard as we recognize their mortality and our own.
Mark Borckardt writes:
"I don't remember when I met Doug Bird but I am sure it was close to 40 years ago, perhaps at the first Robinson Brown large cent auction in 1986. He and I were connected in the June 1973 issue of the EAC publication Penny-Wise that carried both our names as new members of Early American Coppers. I also don't know when I last saw him but I imagine it was a few years ago as his health prevented travel to conventions. What I do know is that I will miss my friend. Rest in Peace, Doug."
Chuck Heck writes:
"We have lost another GIANT. An honest and fun loving GIANT who was always a CLASS act -- Doug Bird.
"You frequently hear people say that you should never let an opportunity pass you by when assembling your collection. Personally, I have always felt the opposite way. I suppose that I have simply been lucky because I have had second and third chances.
"In January 2005 Wes Rasmussen sold his large cent collection through Heritage at the FUN Show in Florida. Fortunately, I won several coins at the auction. The day after the sale I usually like to review the winning prices to see if something sold cheaply. Bingo -- lot #3021 -- the exceedingly rare 1794 NC-4 sold for $6000. What??? Only $6000??? I thought the coin sold cheaply. The winning bidder was Doug Bird. I immediately called Bird Man (what he was affectionately called by copper collectors) but I only got his voicemail. My message was simple -- "Hi Doug, this is Chuck, nothing special, no rush -- call me back whenever you can."
"About an hour later Doug called me and when I answered the phone he sang (yes, he sang) "I know what you waaant" -- to the tune of " Nya, Nya, NyaNyan, Ya." Using the same tune I responded -- "Nooo You Don't." To which he continued to sing -- "Yes I doooo."
"Frustrated, I sternly replied without singing -- "OK! Stop this insanity! What do I want? He said -- "You want the NC-4." Stunned at his answer, I said -- "How in hell did you know that?" Bird Man said -- "It's the only coin that went cheap!"
"He charged me one bid over his.
"I just spoke with Doug Jr. The family has come to terms with Doug's passing. There will be no memorial or public service, just a private family service. However Doug Jr. and his wife Melissa would love to hear any stories that you might enjoy sharing. You can email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Personal comment: The email address -- email@example.com -- get it??? Doug (an only child) and Melissa have 2 daughters; "birdlas" = "last bird." Like Father, Like Son!"
Wayne Homren, Editor
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