David W. Lange, noted numismatist, die variety expert, and lifelong fan of collecting coin boards, has passed away after a three-year battle with cancer. He was 64 years old.
David had served as director of research for Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) since 1994, writing much of the company’s coin-related content over the course of his nearly 30-year tenure. His contributions to the company include the development of NGC’s VarietyPlus® program as well as the development of the NGC Photo Proof® service.
David began collecting in 1964. He was drawn to Lincoln cents and Buffalo nickels and sought them out by date and mintmark in order to fill the coin boards that his mother had purchased for him and his older brother.
Even as his experience grew, David never lost his connection to his earliest days in the hobby or the appeal of coin boards. He became the leading figure in the study of coin boards and albums, writing a number of books on the subject, and publishing a quarterly newsletter called Coin Board News.
A Life Member of the American Numismatic Association, David was honored with the Association’s prestigious Numismatist of the Year Award in 2017. His contributions as one of the most popular instructors at the summer seminar encouraged generations of collectors to advance their knowledge. Several of his students would join the ranks of professional numismatists.
David served as a longtime Red Book contributor, writing a chapter on the United States coins of the Philippines, among other contributions. His books The Complete Guide to Lincoln Cents (1996) and The Complete Guide to Buffalo Nickels (2001) are still considered standard references for the series.
Colleagues Remember David
Numismatic author Scott Travers was deeply saddened by the news.
“I’m in tears. David’s passing is a monumental loss to the hobby, to the science, and to the industry. He was a friend to those in the hobby, he contributions to the science of the hobby are well documented, and the professionalism he brought to the industry advanced it in meaningful ways that will continue to be felt for years to come.”
Numismatist David McCarthy said, “David was one of the first people in the business who was a serious numismatist that I met. I met him the first time I went to Summer Seminar. He was so open and respectful… and he treated me as if I were a peer almost immediately… that made me feel like I was truly a part of this community. With David, there was no ego. He had nothing to prove. He just really, really loved coins… and loved people.”
Doug Plasencia has worked alongside David at NGC since 2011. He looks back at his friend with great fondness.
“It was an honor to me back in early 2011 when Dave sought me out to come to NGC to be their lead photographer. Over the years of working with Dave, it always amazed me at the amount of knowledge Dave had about all aspects of coin collecting, as well as his love of coin boards. It was another honor of mine to photograph his collection of coin boards for the books he wrote. I will truly miss Dave and I will always be thankful for the opportunity he gave me.”
CoinWeek Editor Charles Morgan worked with David on a number of issues, including the Numismatic Literary Guild’s (NLG) annual writer’s competition. Charles remembers that David was someone whose work mostly flew under the radar.
“At NGC, much of his research and writing did not receive a Lange byline. For the most part, if you learned about something from an article published by NGC, you were learning from David. But throughout all of his professional work, he retained his passion for what brought him into coins in the first place. Those of us in the hobby hold special respect for people like David,” Charles said. “We have lost a great one.”