Numismatic photographer and author Gerald Hoberman died in Cape Town,
South Africa, on Dec. 21, 2013, after a battle with cancer.
Spink and Lund Humphries jointly published his pioneering work
The Art of Coins and their Photography in 1981. Featuring 329
color images of coins from the earliest of times to the late 19th
century, the book showcased what is arguably the finest coin
photography ever produced.
Despite the advent of digital photography, Hoberman’s early
photography of coins was still held in the highest regard. Along with
the history of both coinage and the coins featured in the volume, some
50 pages were devoted to the technical aspects of photographing coins.
Born in Cape Town in 1943, he moved to London during the late 1960s
to become a photographic apprentice. He later established a studio and
photographic laboratory in the city’s Carnaby Street.
In 1973 he returned to South Africa to join his family’s coal
distribution business, which he ran until it was sold in 1996.
He always found time to pursue his two hobbies — numismatics and
photography. As well as collecting coins, he also wrote for numismatic publications.
In 1982, he photographed M.G. Hibbard’s collection for Boer War
Tribute Medals, the definitive work on the subject.
Mr. Hoberman knew exactly what he wanted and went to extraordinary
lengths to achieve it. Many people would have made do with an
extremely good result, but he strove to achieve the ultimate par excellence.
When he “pitched” to undertake the photography for Hibbard’s book,
he suggested that the volume would memorialize the collector for many
years to come, so Hibbard may as well have the best images to
illustrate the tome.
In 1994 Mr. Hoberman started to travel the world with his son Marc
in a quest to master wildlife photography, a challenge completely
different from studio work.
In 1996, he established the imprint The Gerald Hoberman Collection,
which soon published books of wildlife photography, establishing a new
standard for quality and a global reputation for luxury. The
publishing house’s logo is a drawing of the reverse of a Greek silver
tetradrachm issued circa 360 B.C. at Barce in Cyrenaica (present-day
Libya) featuring the facing head of Zeus Ammon.
Mr. Hoberman also produced a series of books of photos focused on
individual cities throughout the world, starting with a volume about
his birthplace. When Douglas Saville, then manager of Spink’s book
department was shown the book Cape Town, he suggested that what had
grown to be the Gerald and Marc Hoberman Collection could become the
origin of a series on cities of the world.
The Hoberman imprint has published more than 75 “coffee table” titles.
Although published more than 30 years ago, The Art of Coins and
Their Photography is still actively traded on the secondary market.
Mr. Hoberman has passed away, but his photographic books will serve
as a memorial for many years.