John Ferreri submitted this item on "The Greatest Generation" of obsolete banknote collectors.
After speaking with a few other collectors regarding James Curto and some of his contemporaries of the 1960s & '70s I realize how fortunate I have been to become involved with obsolete banknote collecting at that time. So many of what I now call "The Greatest Generation" of banknote collectors were contributing to the general knowledge of this field and nurturing some neophytes like me to become involved. These men and women truly cared for the hobby and wanted to expound the ideals they shared regarding it. They were mostly collectors first and dealers next when the time to reduce their collections had arrived.
Men like George Wait, Richard Hoober, Ralph Goldstone, and Jim Curto were all at the top of their game 40 years ago when I started to collect. What impressed me and set these collectors apart was the attention they gave to me as a beginning obsolete banknote collector and the importance of ferreting out information regarding these notes.
Twice I visited George Wait at home and was offered the pick of his banknote litter which he said, could be paid for later. He trustingly let me go home with his collection and to send quarterly payments when I could. He once gave me a short tour of Bloomfield, NJ in order to point out the house that "Yogi" Berra lived in.
Soft spoken Dick Hoober always supplied information on the notes he offered for sale and was always appreciative of information or trades coming his way. A sale wasn't complete until we talked back and forth about the design, vignettes, etc. None of our mailings were done by Insured Express, Priority Mail, Fedex or other "-positively overnight" delivery choices. Three day, uninsured, plain envelope and no Mylar holder was the mailing method du jur. There was never any reason to claim mail fraud. We met only once or twice at conventions, somewhere. In person he was even more of a gentleman than I previously had imagined.
Ralph Goldstone took me to his vault in the bank below his office and said "take home what ever you like and get back to me later". This was on the first day I met him. Was business usually conducted like this?
My experience with Jim Curto, another true gentleman, is related in a previous issue of The E-Sylum. These were the days when you had a hard time finding a dealer at a coin show who even knew what broken banknotes were. After showing an example to one dealer he asked, "what's broken about it"?
I'll bet other collectors have had similar experiences with "the greatest generation" of banknote collectors. Maybe they would like to share those memories with us.
Thanks for the great stories. These first-person accounts are what's best about The E-Sylum. So - who will chime in with the next story about old-time dealers and collectors?
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