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Q. David Bowers – Dr. Richard G. Doty: A Reminiscence

By Q. David BowersStack’s Bowers ….
Dr. Richard G. (“Dick”) Doty was a personal friend of mine for many years and was widely admired by all who knew him. As an associate curator of the National Numismatic Collection in the Smithsonian Institution, then head curator, from 1986 onward he planned exhibits and programs that added much to numismatics.

I had many occasions to visit Dick behind the scenes at the Smithsonian–including helping with research, studying coins, and at one time immersing myself and two helpers in the scanning and identification of nearly 7,000 obsolete bank notes, most of which had not been attributed (Whitman Publishing funded this project). This led to my writing a definitive book on the history of the National Numismatic Collection, going back to the establishment of the Smithsonian in the 1840s and the separate founding and expansion of the Mint Cabinet in Philadelphia. This manuscript will include a section by Jeff Garrett describing American coin highlights of the collection and is scheduled to be published by Whitman in 2017. It will be dedicated to Dick’s memory, as he was essential in its creation.

Dick wrote several books that became standard references. For his last, Pictures from a Distant Country: Seeing America through Old Paper Money, he invited me to write the foreword. In the summer of 2012 he was diagnosed with lymphoma. Ever the optimist he felt that this, too, would pass as he sought treatment. Visitors to his office had no reason to think anything was amiss.

In February 2013 Dick and I planned my next visit to the Smithsonian. He picked a date in March and called back stating that a reservation had been made at Fogo de Chao, one of his favorite restaurants in Washington. I intended to bring Tom Jurkowsky of the U.S. Mint with me, to discuss the Mint and Smithsonian interface. Then came the news that Dick was hospitalized. The dinner never happened. On June 2 at the age of 71 he passed away. In August at the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money I and some other of his friends planned and conducted a memorial service in his honor.

Later, his widow, Cindi Rodin, invited Christine Karstedt and me to come to review the coins and other items in his numismatic estate. We did this, and suggested in which direction certain coins, tokens, medals, and paper money should be placed or donated. Cindi wanted other items to be offered at auction. Our official auction of the January New York International Numismatic Convention (NYINC) includes such selections.

—Dave Bowers

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