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The E-Sylum:  Volume 9, Number 33, August 13, 2006, Article 26

NOTES ON JAMES P. RANDALL

Dave Bowers writes: "I knew J.P. Randall and used to buy patterns
from him." Dave provided some raw biographical notes on Randall, which
I've edited as follows:

"James P. Randall offered a two-page spread of coins for sale, noting:
"My mail order sales for the month of April 1949 set a new high monthly
record for a period of 17 years."  Randall was among the group of
American numismatists (Abe Kosoff, Sol Kaplan, Ambassador and Mrs. R.
Henry Norweb, Hans M.F. Schulman, John J. Pittman, James P. Randall,
Robert Schermerhorn, Paul Wittlin, Gaston DiBello, and Maurice Storck)
who attended the King Farouk "Palace Collections" auction in Cairo,
Egypt."

[Question: how complete is Dave's list of American Farouk sale
attendees?  I believe Howard D. Gibbs was there as well, getting in
trouble with the local gendarmes for arriving with a weapon.  Can
anyone confirm this, or add others to the list?  -Editor]

Neil Shafer writes: "My collecting began as a youngster in Chicago.
I used to take the streetcar downtown after my violin lesson and go
around to the various coin shops.  James P. Randall had such a shop
for a number of years in the 300 South block on Dearborn, near Leif
Ronning's shop.  I went into Randall's shop a couple of times, but
he was not attuned to young collectors who did not want to buy rare
gold and the like.  Randall handled high-quality pieces.  I remember
one I wished I could have, an 1825 $2-1/2 gold piece in beautiful
condition.  But what kid could afford to pay a hundred dollars?   I
had a much better time at Ronning's who had a tray of low-value world
coins that I liked to go through.  I have no idea when Randall moved
to Florida."

Bob Leonard writes: "James P. Randall was one of the more unsavory
coin dealers of the last century.  Originally from Chicago, he joined
the Chicago Coin Club about 1940 as member no. 345.  From 1943-47 he
was listed in the club directory as a dealer at 341 S. Dearborn St.,
Chicago.  (A note in my copy of the 1947 Bulletin indicates that he
was single at that time.)  No Bulletin was published in 1948, but the
1949 Bulletin gives his address as 116 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, still
a dealer.  In 1950 he is listed at P.O. Box 361, Coral Gables, Fla.
(dealer).

Randall was ANA Life Member 170.  (Unfortunately, the membership
directories are silent on the dates life memberships were granted.)
The 1957 ANA Membership Directory has him at P.O. Box 2205, Ft.
Lauderdale, Fla., while the 1964 directory (the last) shows him at
2300 Commonwealth Ave., Chicago.  Randall advertised in The Numismatist
about 1960 and issued price lists of world coins (his specialty) in
the early 1960s and probably earlier.  Trenchant editorials were
included in some of his lists.

Don Keefer (Aug. 24, 1899-July 4, 1954), a wealthy Chicago abortionist,
was an active member of the Chicago Coin Club in the late '30s and early
'40's, exhibiting rare and valuable Oriental coins at club meetings.
(The late Kurt Eckstein told me on August 2, 1999, that Keefer was
hunchbacked and had a speech impediment.  He is pictured on p. 738 of
the October 1942 Numismatist.)  His wife was Oriental, though no one
seems to know much about her.  In the mid-1940's Keefer began collecting
Pioneer gold coins and bars; his name appears in Breen's Encyclopedia in
important pedigrees, and he purchased the "1860" Parsons bar from John
Ford in 1952.

According to Charles Opitz, citing Walter Boyer of Milwaukee, August
2, 2002, James P. Randall married Don Keefer's widow to gain possession
of his Oriental coin collection (John Ford had already purchased the
Pioneer gold coins and bars).  Certainly Randall offered such material
in his later price lists.  After the last coins were sold, Randall
divorced Mrs. Keefer.

Randall was also said to have been an outspoken anti-Semite, and to
have been expelled from one of the Florida coin clubs he joined."

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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