By Charles Morgan for CoinWeek …..
It was with great sadness that I received the news that Harvey Stack, a longtime friend of CoinWeek and a legendary figure in the field of American numismatics, had passed away. He was 93 years old.
Harvey was born into a coin family and not only did he continue the family business, but he also took it to new heights. The success of Stack’s and its often (but not always) wealthy clientele is woven deeply into the fabric of the history of this hobby. So many great coins and collectors were treated well and fairly by the man and his company that it’s impossible to imagine any great collection built from the 1930s onward that wasn’t made up, at least in part, of coins that passed through the Stack’s New York City showroom.
The collections he helped build were legendary and the list of collectors he counted as personal friends may be unrivaled.
Harvey spent a life in coins, and even in retirement, he kept himself busy staying abreast of the hobby’s goings-on. He maintained relationships with dealers, collectors, and friends–and even made new friends–in his later years.
I was such a friend. Once Harvey discovered my work, he sought me out. Our first personal interaction took place at the Whitman Coin and Collectibles Expo in Baltimore, probably in late 2014 or early 2015. David Lisot had just produced a series of excellent videos that he shot with Harvey in New York and CoinWeek was preparing its coverage for the historic Pogue sales. Harvey liked a few of the articles that Hubert and I had written and wanted to give me a folder full of notes and information.
To say we kept in regular contact after that is an understatement, for after that meeting Harvey was good for at least one 2,000-word email a week. Sometimes he would write about things he had read in the press. Other times, he would give me deep background on coins that were coming to market. Harvey loved collectors and wanted to preserve the things that made the hobby great. He was proud of the role that he played to get the 50 State Quarters program enacted but was no fan of the high premiums that the United States Mint charged its customers for things like bags and rolls of business strike dollars and half dollars.
I could never get enough of Harvey’s stories. He knew so much about so many topics that interested me that in the summer of 2017, I proposed that he contribute a series of articles to CoinWeek about the early days of Stack’s and what it was like to “grow up” in a numismatic family.
Selfishly, I wanted to hear for myself all of the great stories about Lilly, Sheldon, Colonel Green, and the whole cast of characters that made Stack’s the collectors’ clubhouse, but knew that the hobby would greatly benefit from preserving Harvey’s voice and remembrances. Harvey got to work, and boy did Harvey deliver.
In installment after installment, Harvey broke down the history of Stack’s and in doing so, told the numismatic story of his life – from the earliest days when he swept the floors to his time serving as the head of the family business. He spoke of triumphs and tragedies, but the ups and downs of the coin business never dimmed his enthusiasm for numismatics. Numismatics was the family business and Harvey Stack was a man who deeply loved his family.
I last talked to Harvey on the phone in December. It was a lively and entertaining chat. Afterward, I received two or three personal emails from him, the last one was sent on January 1.
I hear his voice in every word and I can’t imagine that he’s gone. I’m sure his family and his colleagues at Stack’s Bowers are heartbroken. I know I am and so are several of my colleagues in the coin business. We are all deeply saddened.
Even in passing Harvey Stack’s legacy will continue to be felt, of that you can be sure. There will never be another like him.
Rest easy my friend, and thank you for your friendship.