Numismatic Icon Showcase: Q. David Bowers

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Q. David Bowers at podium
Numismatic icon Q. David Bowers opens the 2005 ANR auction featuring the Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection of World Gold Coins.

By Christine N. Karstedt

Q. David Bowers
Q. David Bowers

Q. David Bowers is perhaps the best-known and most noteworthy numismatist of the last 60 years.

Beginning in 1953, Dave’s contributions to numismatics have continued uninterrupted and unabated to the present day. His work with rare coins is so voluminous and so extraordinary that he was named by COINage Magazine in 1999 as one of the “Numismatists of the Century,” one of only six living individuals to receive this honor. Dave’s dedication to the hobby and his lifelong interest in rare coins, along with his pursuit of scholarly knowledge, have made him one of the most honored and revered numismatists of all time.

He has served as president of both the Professional Numismatists Guild (1977-1979) and the American Numismatic Association (1983-1985). He has received the highest honor from the Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG), the Founders Award. The ANA has enshrined him in the Hall of Fame and has bestowed on him its two most distinguished awards — Numismatist of the Year and the Farran Zerbe Memorial Award. For many years, he was a guest lecturer at Harvard University, and he has appeared on the “Today Show” and programs on CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, The Discovery Channel, and The History Channel.

Mike Iacocca and Q. David Bowers
Mike Iacocca, engraver at the Philadelphia Mint, preparing for a medal featuring Dave

Dave is the most prolific numismatic author of our generation, having produced over 50 works, hundreds of auction and other catalogs, and several thousand articles, mostly about rare coins. In 2000-2003, he was central in the marketing of the gold coins and ingots from the vast treasure of the S.S. Central America and wrote the definitive book on the subject, A California Gold Rush History Featuring Treasure from the S.S. Central America.

Brian Kendrella, Chris Karstedt, Dave Bowers, and Peter Treglia
Brian Kendrella, Chris Karstedt, Dave Bowers, and Peter Treglia at the opening of the Smithsonian Gallery of Numismatics.

He serves as numismatic director of Whitman Publishing LLC, where he has produced many other books, including more than a half dozen in the very popular Bowers Series. More of Dave’s books have won “Book of the Year” honors from the Numismatic Literary Guild than any other author. From the PNG, he has received the coveted Friedberg Award a record seven times! He has cataloged and sold at public auction many of the finest and most valuable and important collections ever assembled, in the process creating scholarly catalogs that become cherished references when the auctions are complete. A shortlist of the legendary collections Dave has presented includes The D. Brent Pogue Collection, The Joel R. Anderson Collection, The Louis E. Eliasberg Collection, The Ambassador and Mrs. R. Henry Norweb Collection, The Garrett Collection (for the Johns Hopkins University), The Harry W. Bass, Jr., Collection, and The Walter W. Childs Collection.

Chris Karstedt and Dave Bowers
Chris Karstedt and Dave Bowers manning the ANR Bourse table at a convention.

Over nearly 70 years, Dave has remained as enthusiastic about numismatics as he was in the early 1950s. Besides creating shelves full of books about coins, paper money, medals, and tokens, he has also spent large quantities of time responding to inquiries that have come to him over the years – by mail, telephone, and over the Internet. At conventions, auctions, and other hobby gatherings, he is as likely to be found in conversation with a beginning collector as he is with a seasoned veteran. And while Dave likes an 1804 dollar or MCMVII $20 as well as the next numismatist, he is just as thrilled to talk about a New Hampshire bank note, a worn state copper, or a Wealth of the South token.

In Dave Bowers, great knowledge and enthusiasm come together with real joy of sharing, a combination that has helped many to discover how fascinating the hobby can be.

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