US Coins

Last U.S. numismatist at 1954 Farouk auction dies at 97

Numismatist Martin A Storck Sr., mounted on a camel, right, took in the historic sites of Cairo, Egypt, in conjunction with the 1954 auction of the numismatic collection of deposed King Farouk I.

Image courtesy of the Maurice A. Storck Sr. family.

Maurice A. Storck Sr., believed to be the last numismatist from the United States known to have attended the 1954 Sotheby & Co. auction in Cairo of the Palace Collection assembled by deposed King Farouk I, has died.

Mr. Storck passed away at age 97 Nov. 29 in Tucson, Arizona, at the Arizona State Veterans Home.

Among the other American numismatists who attended the 1954 London auction — where one offering was a 1933 Saint-Gaudens gold $20 double eagle that auctioneers pulled from the sale — were Abe Kosoff, founder in 1955 of the Professional Numismatists Guild, and prominent collector John J. Pittman. King Farouk I had assembled extensive numismatic and philatelic collections that were seized on behalf of the Egyptian people during a 1952 military coup led by Gen. Gamal Abdel Nasser.

A native of Portland, Maine, Mr. Storck joined the Maine National Guard in 1936 at age 14. Three years later, at age 17, Mr. Storck transferred into the regular United States Army and was assigned to duty in Hawaii in 1940.

Less than a year later, while stationed at Schofield Barracks, Mr. Storck witnessed the start of U.S. involvement in World War II when Pearl Harbor was attacked on Dec. 7, 1941. He was one of the small number of veterans who survived the Japanese attack to still be alive. All are in their 90s or are older.

Subsequently, the 25th Infantry division was formed, and Mr. Storck went on to see combat action in Guadalcanal and several other major battles before being severely wounded during the invasion of the Philippine Islands.

It was during this time period that he met his future wife, Nancy Gower, while on leave in New Zealand. They were married in 1944. In 1945, his new bride traveled by boat to America with their newborn son, Maurice Storck Jr., to reunite with him. Mr. Storck was hospitalized and had been medically discharged due to his war injuries. 

Mr. Storck received several prestigious military decorations, including a Purple Heart. 
Following his military discharge, Mr. Storck received an associate degree from Portland Jr. College where he learned the basic principles of owning and running a business. Mr. Storck had a passion for coins and stamp collecting, so it was a natural choice for his business.

Mr. Storck traveled extensively throughout the United States and the world attending many national coin shows, and in 1954 he attended the Farouk auction.

Members of the Storck family indicate that Mr. Storck, at the time of his death, still had many of the bulk lots he had purchased at the Farouk sale still in his possession.

In 1960, Mr. Storck opened a stamp and coin store in Portland, Maine. At that time, this was the largest in the state, which he operated until 1970 when he semi-retired and sold his business. He dabbled in coins and stamps up until the time of his death, according to family members.

In retirement, Mr. Storck and his wife, Nancy, traveled throughout the United States in their motor home before settling in Tucson in 1973. They spent their summers in Maine until the passing of Nancy in 1990.

Mr. Storck then became a year-round resident in Arizona, where he began his extensive volunteer work at the Veteran’s Administration, volunteering over 54,000 hours. 

Mr. Storck was a lifetime member of the Portland Club, the first lifetime member of the American Numismatic Association, a 32nd degree Mason, a member of the 25th Infantry Association, and a lifetime member of the Tucson Coin and Stamp Clubs.

A private family burial and memorial service with full military honors is being scheduled at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., at a later date.

Mr. Storck is survived by his son, Aron Storck (Cynthia); grandson, Craig Storck (Amanda); granddaughter, Gretchen Freshour (Brian); and two great-grandchildren, Jaycee and Rylee Freshour, all of Oklahoma City.

Mr. Storck also leaves behind several relatives in the New England area, Alaska, and New Zealand.

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