The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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The E-Sylum: Volume 14, Number 24, June 12, 2011, Article 10

REMEMBERING NBS MEMBER GEORGE FITZGERALD

Roger Urce writes:

I have been informed by Bill Haines of the passing of George Fitzgerald of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Apparently George passed away over the Memorial Day weekend.

It's been several years since I've been a regular attendee at the annual American Numismatic Association conventions, but I remember George as a regular attendee at Numismatic Bibliomania Society events. -Editor

Joel Orosz writes:

I remember George attending many NBS meetings over the years.. I had only a couple of brief conversations with him , The thing I remember best about him was his trademark baseball-style cap. In fact, I can't recall ever seeing him without it.

Pete Smith writes:

George Fitzgerald was a great sports fan. I donít think he made all of them but he attended many of the recent Olympic Games around the world. He had already put down a deposit to go to London for the next Olympics.

He played golf and occasionally went as a spectator to Atlanta for the Masterís golf tournament. I heard a story this week that around his 70th birthday he played 70 holes of golf in one day. That is an accomplishment that gets tougher each year.

George participated in a sub-culture in numismatics built around Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) souvenir cards. During an ANA convention the BEP may hold drawings to sell pulled proofs of these cards. People who donít collect them will still enter the drawing. With cards that cost $50, there is an immediate secondary market of dealers offering $75 or more.

We had mutual friends in the Souvenir Card Collecting Society. Our group roomed together and had dinner together at Central States and ANA conventions.

I attended the 2005 ANA convention in Las Vegas where the BEP had their typical exhibit. George was one of a few people there without a table. With low public attendance, it was quickly apparent that there would be more cards than public interest. Many dealers with tables close to the drawing signed up. My co-worker won on the first day and I won on the second. Ken Barr was buying up cards for his clients. George was also there buying cards for his circle of friends. They were quickly able to fill their want lists and prices dropped.

Dealers with tables at the show got a nice steak dinner at Smith & Wollensky and two tickets to a basketball game at UNLV. My co-worker was not interested in going so I asked George to join me as my guest. He was happy for the offer as he had not previously seen a game at the Thomas and Mack Center. In a pre-season exhibition, The Lakers beat the Kings 105-103.

George was a good talker and not shy in talking about himself. In general, this was not boastful. He told interesting stories because he did interesting things.

He would spend what was needed to go to the Olympics but preferred inexpensive travel in this country. In contrast, he leased a Mercedes and just recently picked up a new model.

George worked as a sales representative for ITT before retirement. Friends believe that he had no children and never married.

The Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne has a well-known genealogy collection. George worked there as a volunteer. In semi-retirement, he also worked part time for Fairfield Rare Coins.

I last saw George at the recent Central States show in Chicago. Among other activities, he was judging exhibits. At the time he appeared in normal good health.

Pete located this photo on the NBS web site - it was taken at the 2004 Florida United Numismatists (FUN) show. Thanks! There's that famous baseball cap. -Editor

George Fitzgerald and others at FUN 2004

1. Craig Eberhart (wearing light green shirt)
2. George Fitzgerald (wearing a red shirt)
3. John Kraljevich (wearing a suit)
4. Wendell Wolka (behind sign)
5. Dan Hamelberg (wearing dark jacket)
6. Jeff Reichenberger (wearing a yellow shirt)

I adapted the following from a remembrance of George by Fred Schwan in the June 8th, 2011 issue of MPC Gram, a blog for collectors of Military Payment Certificates and other forms of military money.:

George Fitzgerald was a GREAT collector. I am sure that he would like to be remembered for that and of course he will. He was also a gentleman and good guy.

In numismatics he had very wide and diverse interests. I am sure that I only know of a few of the interests. He had an advanced MPC replacement collection. In other paper money he collected Fort Wayne, Indiana national bank notes.

In United States coins, he really liked half dimes, but collected many series. Indeed, many different series were collected and put away many years ago when he completed them or lost interest in favor of something else.

He had an advanced collection of Lesher dollars which he dearly liked and researched avidly. Like many advanced collectors, he really appreciated numismatic books, both his own and those in libraries.

George was a great supporter of the ANA. I suspect that he attended more than 50 summer conventions and possibly all of the winter events (called by various names over the years).

My favorite story about George concerns a prized national bank note in his collection. I have told the story many times in the presence of George. It is a $2 national. They are affectionately known as you probably know as Lazy Deuces. The note in question of course was on a Fort Wayne bank. At the time it was the only deuce known on Fort Wayne. Indeed, until a few hours before the story starts, it might not have been known in any collections.

We were at a show. I had a bourse table. George was walking the show. He found this important note. Frankly, it was a dog, but boy did it look good to a Fort Wayne collector. The rub was the price. The dealer wanted a price that George just would not pay.

I encouraged, pushed, begged, and otherwise tried to talk George into buying it, but he refused. When he left the show on Saturday afternoon, I went over and bought it! I knew that he would regret not having bought it, because I have been in that situation just too many times.

Well, as it happened within a few months George found a note that I wanted so I produced the deuce and eventually we worked it out. It gets better. At the next MPC Fest Bill Haines told me that not only did George show the note at the local (Fort Wayne) club, but he also took it to every meeting!

I liked to razz George a little about the deuce. He not only took it in good nature, but told me something important that I believe applies to all of us. He said that I had taught him something by the deuce episode--that a collector should not pass up something important because of a few dollars (of course the definition of few comes into play). Anyway, I was flattered by what he said and will always remember that.

George and I were both fans of the Olympics. I like to talk about the many hours of being glued to the television watching intently for the past 30 or more years. George and I could talk about certain really important Olympic moments. Millions and millions of people feel and talk the way they do about the Olympics. But only a few from George's point of view. Those many Olympics that I so happily watched on television, George watched in person!

Of course he was able to combine Olympics and numismatics with a collection of participation medals (and perhaps some award medals--I am not sure).

He attended many other big name sports events too. He had albums full of the tickets to these many events--imagine that, he collected the tickets. George himself was a avid golfer. That is where he left me behind. I would be a danger on the course, but he had played a round with many collectors. George, you were and will continue to be an inspiration. Thank you.



Wayne Homren, Editor

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