Another numismatic great has passed on. George J. Fuld died on
Friday, Oct. 19.
Born in 1932, George discovered coins simultaneously with his
father, Melvin, in Baltimore in 1946. They both took an immediate
liking to tokens. As a father-and-son team, they organized the field
of Civil War tokens and created the two standard works we all use
today: Patriotic Civil War Tokens and U.S. Civil War Store
Cards. They also contributed a monthly series on tokens of all
kinds to The Numismatist for years.
George on his own created a new standard reference on the coins,
tokens and medals of George Washington, vastly expanding W.S. Baker’s
19th century work; did archival research in many places; assisted
others with their research; and always had a good word to say. I have
been in contact with him constantly over the years, most recently when
he contributed a chapter of reminiscences to my Whitman Guide Book
of U.S. Civil War Tokens, recently released.
George, who never referred to his doctorate, was a scientist by
education. His family was in the chemical business in Baltimore.
I first met George in the mid-1950s when I was a teenager in high
school and dealing in coins part time. Not long afterward, I visited
him at this then-home in Wakefield, Mass. He was doing research at
M.I.T. and told me of his experiments with compressing preserved food
to be dispensed pneumatically, like some cheese for crackers is sold today.
During the visit, I purchased Civil War store cards, mostly in
large National album pages, nearly all Uncirculated, and for less than
a dollar each! Today, on average, as rare varieties were included,
they would be worth several hundred dollars per token.
In 1957, several of us interested in numismatic research banded
together to form the Rittenhouse Society — Ken Bressett, Walter Breen,
Grover Criswell, George Fuld, Dick Johnson, Ken Rendell and me. Every
year since 1960 we’ve had a breakfast meeting at the summer American
Numismatic Association convention.
Once, in the 1950s, George and his dad invited me to speak to the
Baltimore Coin Club. I packed my things, hopped aboard Delta Airlines
and landed late in the afternoon. My suitcase went somewhere else and
was not seen again. In those days speakers always wore a suit and tie,
as did dealers at shows. I arrived at Melvin’s home in blue jeans and
a T-shirt! Melvin poked around in some closets and somehow found
suitable clothes, never mind that they didn’t quite fit. If any club
members noticed, they didn’t say anything.
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.