I was saddened to learn of the passing of Bertha (“Bert”) Bressett,
who had been a fine friend for many years. I cannot remember when I
first met Bert, but I knew Ken as early as the mid-1950s, as we had a
common interest in numismatic research in general and Colonial coins
in particular. We kept in close contact.
Today, as is well known, Ken is editor of A Guide Book of
United States Coins.
In recent decades, he has lived in Colorado Springs, Colo.,
including serving as president of the American Numismatic Association.
Bert has been his constant companion, until health intervened in
recent years. If Ken was somewhere numismatic, likely Bert would be
In 1957, Ken Bressett, Ken Rendell, Grover C. Criswell Jr., Walter
Breen, George Fuld, Dick Johnson and I formed the Rittenhouse Society,
a group of people interested in numismatic research.
Word spread, and beginning at the ANA convention in Boston in
1960, we’ve had an annual breakfast meeting. Over a long stretch, Bert
Bressett was a regular attendee as Ken’s guest, joining us for an hour
of fellowship and camaraderie. In fact, I think she held the
attendance record for a nonmember! Lots of fun!
Bert was also a frequent attendee of conventions, accompanying
Ken. This included when she was first lady of the ANA as Ken held the
presidency. Back in 1978, when my wife, Christie, went to her first
ANA convention, Bert spent part of a day squiring her around from area
to area, display to display, and table to table, introducing her to
friends. Christie never forgot that.
In the 1970s and 1980s, I gave my “All About Coins” course at the
ANA Summer Seminar. It was a popular program at the time. Many Young
Numismatists attended, and some went on to great success in
professional numismatics, including Kerry Wetterstrom (today editor of
The Celator and a world-renowned expert on ancient
coinage), Dwight Manley (who spearheaded the sale of the SS Central
America gold treasure), Dan Ratner and a few others.
Ken had his own course, and Bert, seeking something to do for the
week, signed up for my course. Next year she might have gone to
another, but came back later. I used to kid her that she was the only
student who didn’t graduate and had to keep taking it over and over.
Bert will be missed but fondly remembered by me, my family and a
wide circle of her friends.
Q. David Bowers is chairman emeritus of Stack’s Bowers Galleries
and numismatic director of Whitman Publishing LLC. He can be reached
at his private email, email@example.com,
or at Q. David Bowers, LLC, Box 1804, Wolfeboro, NH 03894.