Numismatist of the Century: Steve Ivy

Courtesy Heritage Auctions

Steve Ivy, co-chairman, chief executive officer and co-founder of Heritage Auctions, was instrumental in building Heritage’s empire with current annual sales approaching $2 billion and locations in 11 cities worldwide.

During the 1970s and early 1980s, his self-named Steve Ivy Rare Coin Co. led the industry with innovations such as the first grading and authenticity guarantee and all-color catalogs that used custom-built Hasselblad cameras. Ivy positioned his numismatic enterprises under the Ivy Financial Corporation umbrella with the highest standards of professionalism.

During those early years, Ivy served as chief numismatist and bought and sold hundreds of millions of dollars worth of rare coins. His propensity for Fortune 500-style marketing propelled his coin company to a level of achievement and consistent success never seen in the coin industry before or since.

While other dealers were hawking their wares at coin shows by lining up their coins in 2”x2” plastic flips with handwritten inserts, Ivy was busy building a coin firm using the model of a diversified financial services company. His flip inserts were computer generated and printed, all corresponding to a meticulously constructed spreadsheet for analysis by his firm’s numismatists and business school graduates.

“Ivy positioned his numismatic enterprises, all organized under the Ivy Financial Corporation umbrella, as businesses with the highest standards of professionalism.”

After James Halperin merged his company with Ivy’s company in 1982 to form Heritage, Ivy concentrated his efforts on marketing and long-term growth.

Business growth is something that comes naturally to Ivy. He started his coin company in 1963 at the age of 13. By the time he was 20, after attending the University of Texas at Austin, he headed his own corporation headquartered in a Dallas office tower. In 1976, Ivy opened his auction firm, Steve Ivy Numismatic Auctions.

Ivy attributes his remarkable business success to “patience, timing, hard work and luck.”

Today, Heritage deals in over 40, and growing, categories of collectibles. He remains active in all of them. His interest in philanthropy is also growing.

Ivy is a past board chair of Dallas Challenge and is also the former finance chair of the Phoenix House of Texas. He also served as a board member of the Rosenthal Center, an organization whose mission is to meet the needs of those struggling with addiction. Ivy was also chairman of the board of the National Center for Policy Analysis, a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research organization whose goal is to develop and promote private, free-market alternatives to government regulation. He held board positions on the Texas Historical Foundation, the Dallas Historical Society and is currently on the board of the Texas State Historical Association. Ivy is a seasoned collector of Texas books and manuscripts and holds one of the highest-quality private collections. On the numismatic side, Ivy served as president of the Professional Numismatists Guild and chairman of the Industry Council for Tangible Assets.

Coinage’s 14 Numismatists of the Century were named in its 2024 Book of Lists collector edition. They will be individually featured in issues of Coinage throughout 2024. The Book of Lists can be purchased through and at newsstands near you.


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