US Coins

Monday Morning Brief for Jan. 10, 2022: Remembering Harvey Stack

Harvey Stack, who died Jan. 3 at the age of 93, served the numismatic community for a lifetime, including as an advocate for collectors.

Original images courtesy of Stack's Bowers Galleries.

Harvey Stack was in the right place at the right time with the right idea as he sat before the U.S. House Banking Committee’s Coinage Subcommittee in July 1995 to propose the 50 State Quarters Program, which increased the number of collectible coins issued by the United States Mint. It is ironic that, then and until last week, he was one of the fiercest critics of the Mint for issuing too many coins that it offers at premium prices.

Harvey had been invited by the chairman of the Coinage Subcommittee, Mike Castle of Delaware, to discuss the hobby’s concerns over the proliferation of noncirculating commemorative coins. Harvey was one of the harshest critics of the commemorative program, for offering too many coins with little chance of future increases in value.

During the hearing, Harvey suggested to Castle a circulating commemorative quarter dollar program honoring the 50 states in the order they entered the Union. Castle slowly warmed to the idea and in 1996, issued legislation that eventually authorized the 50 States quarter dollars program.

Years later, Harvey wrote in Coin World, “When I first proposed the idea of circulating commemorative State quarter dollars in 1995 to Congress, it was to be as a way of giving the public a chance to start a meaningful collection with a cost of just face value per coin. All the public had to do was watch their change.”

However, he continued to oppose the Mint’s continuous issuance of special coinage that he felt was overproduced and overpriced. In recent years, he wrote almost daily on the topic. Just two days before his death on Jan. 3, an email message from him to hobby leaders warned of the Mint’s 2022 product plans. Harvey wrote, “the result will be, less collectors [and the] loss of interest in coin collecting.”

He loved the hobby and devoted his entire life to numismatics. He hated the idea that a government agency, the United States Mint, intended, in his view, to “rip off the numismatic collector once again,” and he was never afraid to let the world know what he thought.
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