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HomePeopleBernard Alan Edison, aka "R. Tettenhorst" (1928-2018): In Memoriam

Bernard Alan Edison, aka “R. Tettenhorst” (1928-2018): In Memoriam

By CoinWeek ….
Bernard Alan Edison, the collector responsible for one of the all-time great collections of copper United States Half Cents, has passed away. He was 90 years old.

Better known in the wider hobby by the nom de coin “R. Tettenhorst” (which was actually the name of his secretary, to whom his packages were addressed), Bernard Edison–“Bunny” to his friends–carefully assembled his collection over a lifetime of business and civic success in the St. Louis, Missouri area. A member of the Edison family of Edison Brothers Stores fame, Bernard was born on March 23, 1928. Having graduated from Harvard University in 1949, Bernard then studied at Harvard Business School – even though he could have earned a PhD in mathematics instead.

And despite his prestigious education, Bernard served his country during the Korean War as a lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force.

Joining the family business, Bernard had become president of the company by the early 1970s. Edison Brothers Stores already had been expanding into different areas of the shoe and retail markets for over a decade, and under Bernard’s leadership the company continued to grow and expand – operating about 2,000 retail locations by the end of the ‘70s and achieving over $1 billion in sales by the mid-’80s. He stepped down in 1987 but continued to advise the company as a new generation of the family took over.

Exclusive: EAC President Bill Eckberg speaks with Charles Morgan about the passing of R. Tettenhorst.

It might be worth noting that fellow St. Louis coin collector (and Edison’s relative through marriage) Eric P. Newman worked as an executive vice president at the company during this same time period.

Bernard also served on the corporate boards of several other companies, including Anheuser-Busch, General American Life Insurance Company, Mercantile Bancorporation, and Reinsurance Group of America. He also played an important role in many civic and philanthropic organizations over the course of his life, including BJC Health System, Civic Progress Inc., the Harry Edison Foundation, the Jewish Hospital of St. Louis, St. John’s Mercy Medical Center, and the United Way of Greater St. Louis. Bernard is also remembered for his patronage of the arts and the restoration of the old Edison Brothers warehouse in downtown St. Louis.

As a collector, Edison is famous for what is commonly called the “Missouri Cabinet” of U.S. Half Cents, one of the greatest collections of copper half cents ever assembled. Edison himself named it the “Davy Collection” after his youngest son (who is said to have worn a shirt that said “I’m Davy” to the sales), though it has come to be known best by the aforementioned name given to it by the late numismatist Walter Breen. The collection was auctioned publicly by the Goldbergs on January 26, 2014 at the Long Beach Expo.

Bernard Edison died on April 18, 2018. He is survived by his wife Marilyn Sue (née Wewers); his children Julie, Robin, Peter and David; and two grandchildren Jack and Benjamin. A memorial service was held at Temple Emanuel in St. Louis on Sunday, April 22.


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