My first mail-order coin dealer was Tatham Stamp & Coin,
Springfield, Mass., so the store card illustrated this time reflects
abiding interests. This aluminum token is also known in copper. It
employs a very common circa 1940 to 1950s Lincoln obverse effigy that
appears on a number of other small medals and store cards made by
Osborne Register Co. of Cincinnati.
Tatham was operated by Howard E. Macintosh, and specialized in
starter collections for beginner numismatists and fledgling
philatelists, of which I was both. Its heavily illustrated and
well-written catalogs were a joy for a neophyte like me to behold.
They were like viewing a Christmas catalog the year around.
My father, a stamp collector, introduced me to Tatham. l still
have one of his palm-sized catalogs sent to my dad when he was in
college. By my day, Tatham’s catalogs were larger, profusely
illustrated, 100-pagers, chock-full of history and lore.
I have five of Tatham’s old coin catalogs before me now as I write
this, editions circa 1945 to 1965.
Tatham introduced me to U.S. encased stamps at $6 each.
Thirty-five years later, I wrote a book on them. Try to get one for
six bucks now!
I purchased other “neat” items that set my imagination ablaze. One
catching my fancy was a gilt brass token purporting to be ALASKAN GOLD
dated 1862 in the denomination of 2 TOOWAH that I added to my “Civil
War” collection, although it was only a brass restrike bearing a 1910
I liked their Japanese invasion money promotion also. I purchased
$1,116.66 “face value” for only $2, a real “score” for a preteen.
Another purchase was billed as the “World’s Greatest Souvenir ...
Lord’s prayer on reverse of genuine Lincoln Cent.” It cost 15 cents,
and my 1934 specimen has now toned to a wonderful red and purple hue
befitting fond memories.
Tatham was also famous (or infamous depending on your outlook) for
its inexpensive restrikes of Colonial and other numismatic items, and
collecting kits, reference booklets, and supplies under its house
brand TASCO label.
Tatham allowed me to experiment and indulge my childhood
curiosities inexpensively in ways that led me to a life-long pursuit
of numismatics in its many varieties.
I am grateful that my dad shared his collecting passion with me,
and that firms like Tatham and Ben’s in Chicago issued such varied
catalogs that helped me find true and satisfying lifelong interests.
Fred L. Reed iii has been a collector and writer for many years.
Reach him at www.fredwritesright.com.