The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 26, Number 35, August 27, 2023, Article 2

NEIL SHAFER (1933-2023)

I was very sorry to learn this week of the passing of author and researcher Neil Shafer on Friday, August 25. The hobby has lost another one of its greats. -Editor

Lyn Knight Currency Auctions published this emailed notice:

Neil Shafer "Today I come to all of our friends and associates to share the sad news of the passing of Neil Shafer.

"Neil was one of the foremost authorities of world bank notes and scrip as well as an accomplished writer and author.

"Our heartfelt thoughts are with the entire Shafer family now and in the days ahead."

Here is Neil's entry in Pete Smith's American Numismatic Biographies. -Editor

Born in Chicago, Illinois. Married Edith Oelsner June 7, 1964. They had two sons and a daughter. Received B.A. from Arizona State College in 1955. Shafer served in the U. S. Air Force 1955 to 1959 and played in the Air Force Band. He served as assistant conductor of the Racine Symphony Orchestra 1963 to 1972.

Employed as an elementary school teacher 1959 to 1962. Employed with Western Publishing Co. Inc. 1962 to 1975 as numismatic editor and senior editor 1976 to 1981. Worked for Krause Publications 1981 to 1985.

  A Guide Book of Modern United States Currency cover Let's Collect Paper Money book cover
  Whitman Numismatic Journal August 1968 New England Journal of Numismatics Autumn 1986

Author of A Guide Book of Modern United States Currency in 1965.There were eight editions to 1979. Author of Let's Collect Paper Money in 1976 at $1. In 1967 he received the Nathan Gold Memorial Award. Shafer was associate editor of the Middle Atlantic Numismatic Association Journal in 1957. Later he was associate editor of the Whitman Numismatic Journal 1964-1968. In 1986 he was appointed editor-in-chief of the short lived New England Journal of Numismatics. Co-Author with R. A. Mitchell of the Standard Catalog of Depression Scrip of the United States published in 1985. Author of Banknotes, Scrip and Paper Ephemera of Milwaukee in 1990. In 1990 he received the ANA Medal of Merit. He contributed the "Paper Money News and Views" column to the BNR. Contributed Paper Views to Numismatic News after January 30, 1996.

He was named a Numismatic News Numismatic Ambassador in 1992. He received the ANA Medal of Merit in 1990, Adult Advisor of the Year in 1993 and Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007. In 2008 he was inducted into the ANA Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the IBNS Hall of Fame in 2010 and the SPMC Hall of Fame in 2018.

  Philippine Emergency and Guerilla Currency of World War II book cover Standard Catalog of Depression Scrip of the United States book cover

Ken Berger writes:

"I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Neil Shafer. The Philippine numismatic collecting community has lost one of the giants in the field.

"Over the years, Neil and I had been in periodic communication. He was therefore aware that I had been collecting data and information on the One Peso Philippine National Bank Emergency Circulating Note of 1941. A good number of years ago, Neil started updating his classic book, Philippine Emergency and Guerrilla Currency of World War II, through a series of articles in the Bank Note Reporter. When he got to the province of Cebu, he contacted me for information regarding the various CSIs (counterstamps, signatures, and initials) for inclusion in his article.

"After a number of discussions, I convinced him that there was too much information for inclusion in a single article and he, in turn, convinced me that I should expand my research and publish it. With Neil's continued support and encouragement throughout the years, three books have thus far been the result, with more still planned.

"Neil graciously wrote the Foreword to my first two books and I dedicated the third book to both him and Ray Czahor, another individual to whom I am grateful for his support and encouragement.

"Neil will be missed."

Ray Czahor writes:

"This is what I sent to his son Joel:

"Let me express my condolences and those of the Philippine Collecting Community on the passing of your Father. Neil was a great person to have as a friend and was always available to me to answer questions on notes based on his experience. I can't remember when I first met him but believe it was back in the 1970's. When I bought C.M. Nielsen's collection of Philippine Guerilla/Emergency notes back in March 2008, Neil was the first call I received that he was happy to see me keep the collection intact. When he was trying to update his 1974 book with updates in Bank Note Reporter he sent them to me for review. I appreciated that. He will be missed!!!"

I forget where it was that I first met Neil, but I always looked forward to seeing him at coin shows. We shared a common interest in emergency money and scrip. For a glimpse of his interest, here is an excerpt from Neil's E-Sylum submission about his collection of "Money of the People" sold in the June 2014 Lyn Knight Memphis paper money auction. -Editor

Throughout recorded history, civilizations have invented ways of being able to carry on normal business relationships through the use of an agreed upon means of value exchange. In most cases this value exchange has been through a medium we call money. There is always barter as well, but equalization of value can become difficult. Money, on the other hand, has the same value to all participants in whatever transactions are taking place.

The world has had many periods of local and global turbulence. One often seen result of such activity is a lack of a consistent supply of money, with the resultant difficulties of maintaining social as well as economic balance. When a currency imbalance occurs, quite often some local authority will step in and attempt to alleviate the monetary situation with some sort of locally sponsored issue in the form of a token coinage and/or an interim printing of a substitute paper currency. More often than not, this interim issue will be paper since it is a lot easier and faster to print a note than prepare a die to strike a coin or token.

The axiom I have often promulgated is a simple statement of fact: whenever a government fails to provide enough money to allow normal business activity to proceed, the people will step in and make their own. It seems that in every corner of the world there was some sort of circumstance that has brought out the need for an issue of privately sponsored paper money. A number of countries have had dozens, hundreds, and even thousands of such notes, according to the situations involved.

Issues made under circumstances as outlined above are truly Money of the People, and that has been the primary focus of my interest and involvement with the subject. Such locally produced issues would of necessity be accepted only by businesses or individuals in the affected areas. These are the pieces whose issuers say to the officials, ‘We need these notes and we will use them regardless of the current state of affairs within the government. Issues falling into this category are at the very core of my interest just because they stem from the common people who need to do business irrespective of conditions surrounding them.

Pete Smith passed along these images of a banknote souvenir produced for Neil's 80th birthday in 2013. Thanks! -Editor


To read the complete ANB entry on NNP, see:
Neil Shafer (

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:

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Wayne Homren, Editor

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