Last week we had a number of submissions about James Curto. Here's another one from Alan V. Weinberg.
I knew Jim Curto very well, having dealt with him extensively during the latter years of his life, staying at his home, and having bought his token collection from his son following his death. James J. Curto died about 1990 at the age of approximately 90. He lived in a middle class, single story house with his retired teacher wife Lillian, a charming woman about his age, in Grosse Pointe, Michigan.
Jim had an extensive American and foreign token collection although he specialized in Sutlers, Post and Indian trader tokens and military fort and post exchange tokens - even "modern" Viet Nam military tokens. His collection was stored at his home in every nook and cranny, near the chimney base in the basement, in the attic, etc. Those boxes of aluminum tokens stored in the cold damp attic of his Michigan home suffered extensive deterioration - some literally became aluminum "white powder".
On behalf of his family, I packed, shipped and consigned his extensive coin collection to Bowers and Merena for auction where his family realized $55,000 for a single gem 1855 gold dollar around 1992.
What kind of guy was Jim Curto? Since the early Depression he worked for and retired from a Detroit municipal dept, something like water and power, as did his son. He collected from 1929 til his death some 60+ yrs later.
He was tough to deal with - curmudgeonly, strong-willed, and suspicious (once he couldn't find a Los Angeles token of minimal value and accused me of stealing it - then he found it).
He was so wound up in his hobby that sometimes his wife and family suffered. I witnessed that. His son told me on one of my visits to his house after Jim's death, that he felt intimidated by his father all his life and neglected due to Jim's involvement in numismatics and had no interest himself in the hobby because of that.
From my 55 years in this hobby, I've seen signs of this over and over again. A family literally resents the money, time and attention a serious collector invests in his own private pursuits. That's the way it is. Guess that's why so many dealers are divorced or life-long bachelors. Their "mistress" is numismatics.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
MORE ON JAMES J. CURTO
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