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The E-Sylum:  Volume 11, Number 14, April 6, 2008, Article 10

NOTES ON BIBLIOPHILE ROBERT I. WESTER

Last week I asked what became of NBS member Bob Wester.
Dave Harper of Numismatic News writes: "Bob Wester retired
to Costa Rica. He became an active collector there and a
good friend of Numismatic News writer Paul Green's.
Unfortunately, he died of prostate cancer at the age of 65
on May 27, 2003.

"I gave him the nickname 'Survivor Bob.' He retired from
his job in February of, I believe, 2000. He presented himself
at Paul Green's table at the Gran Hotel Costa Rica in March
of that year and told Paul that he had retired there because
of Paul's column. I met him several weeks later. We had a
nice conversation and we hit it off. I warned him of the
travails of the rainy season that was set to begin in a few
short weeks. When I returned just after Thanksgiving, he came
to see me and told me he had survived his first rainy season,
and the nickname was born.

"Wester had a habit of talking about himself in the third person.
He would take a problem and address himself as 'Robert' and
then vocalize the issues as others listened. He did this so
often that Paul Green's Costa Rican wife, Mayela, blurted out
in the middle of one of those conversations, 'Who is Robert?'
We all laughed, Survivor Bob most of all."

Bob Fritsch writes: "Bob Wester was a major force in New
Hampshire Numismatics for years.  I first met him in 1988
at the New Hampshire Collectors Club -- he was the permanent
Exhibit Chairman for that club's annual Tri State Exhibition.
Around 1999-2000 he offered to sell me several scarce-to-rare
New Hampshire Town Medals to finance his move to Costa Rica.

"I next heard of him through Paul Green's column in World Coin
News, getting the name 'Survivor Bob'.  He had the gift of gab
and could charm anyone out of whatever treasures they had that
he wanted.  From Paul's reports, Bob amassed a collection of
Costa Rican banknotes and nobody knew where he got them.

"We were surprised when suddenly he showed up at a local show.
He had come home to die of cancer.  It is too bad he did not
get to enjoy a long and well-deserved retirement.

"Proving it is a small world after all, I met a nephew of
Bob's in Okinawa when I was sent there for a special mission
for the Navy in 2003."

Alan V. Weinberg writes: "I knew Bob Wester fairly well and
bought most of his American Agricultural and Mechanical Society
silver and gold medal collection intact around 1990.

"He was a quite knowledgeable numismatist and serious collector.
A very nice guy. He always came up with great numismatic items.
I distinctly recall Bob sold at auction through Bowers & Ruddy
(or Bowers & Merena) Sylvester S. Crosby's ANS silver membership
medal and his personal silver inscribed pocket watch which, if
memory serves, Tony Terranova bought.

[Bob indeed had the gift of gab, in a disarmingly honest and
charming way.  Until Dave mentioned it I had forgotten about
Bob's unusual habit of addressing himself in the third person.
It was all part of his charm.  Thinking through a problem that
way may seem goofy to the rest of us when vocalized, yet it
can be extremely effective in getting to the heart of the
matter at hand.    I think that helps explain his great success
in ferreting out rare items in out-of-the-way places the rest
of us wouldn't think of looking in.

I can almost hear him now:  "Well, Robert, where do you think
you'd find Sylvester Crosby's photograph, or correspondence?
Well, probably in the hands of a family member, maybe a daughter
or granddaughter.  So where would you look for Crosby's family
members, Robert?   Well, Crosby was from New Hampshire, so I
could start with a phone book and make some calls..."

Robert's search led him to the Crosby family where he discovered
and purchased Crosby's medals and "Crosby's Crosby", the author's
own copy of his classic work on U.S. Colonial Coinage.  He wrote
articles about Crosby and other numismatic topics in The Asylum,
our print publication.

 The Crosbys of Charlestown, New Hampshire II/1:1-4
 Engraving Art, Science in Book (W. L. Ormsby volume) III/1:4-9
 ANS Plans New Building ... in 1906 III/3&4:6-7
 The Vermont Coinage by Reverend Edmund F. Slafter IV/4:5,8
 Ormsby's Bank Note Engraving VII/1:21

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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