The E-Sylum:  Volume 11, Number 11, March 16, 2008, Article 11


Regarding Michael Knight's query about Charles Johnson,
Pete Smith writes: "I collect clippings with obituaries of
numismatists. An obituary for Charles M. Johnson was
published in the February 21, 1979, issue of Coin World.

"Johnson was born on January 8, 1908, in Butte, Montana. He
died on February 1, 1979. At the time he was a resident of
Long Beach, California.  Johnson earned a law degree from
the University of Montana, Missoula, and practiced law with
an oil company in Long Beach. He joined the ANA in 1950
and received the Farran Zerbe award in 1970."

[Pete attached scans of the Johnson obituary, but I'm unable
to post them for our readers because the copyright is owned
by Coin World.  -Editor]

Dick Johnson writes: "On a buying trip once to Southern
California I spent a day with Charles Johnson (no relation)
at his home in Long Beach California. We spent the morning
sightseeing and the afternoon in his library. We headed
first toward the ocean front and stopped at a large multi-
story nondescript building, a tuna packing factory. We
climbed iron stairs on the outside like a fire escape to
a second-floor door. It was unlocked. Charlie walked in
like he owned the place (maybe he did!), I followed. The
second floor balcony looked down on an assembly line of
women carving up tuna carcasses. Somehow the fish sections
got placed in those round flat tins, a lid sealed the can
shut and the tins formed a long row on a conveyer line right
into the ovens. The tuna is cooked in the sealed cans. On
the other side of the building was a dock where the fishing
ships disgorged their spiny cargo.

"Next was a visit to the headquarters of a local fraternal
organization, the Lions, I believe. It boasted the longest
bar in California.  I believe it. That bar must have been
thousands of feet long. The building must have been a block
long, and the bar was the full length of the building.
(Maybe my mind exaggerates the dimensions 40 years later,
but it was quite long.)

"And what sightseeing in Long Beach would be complete without
a trip to the Queen Mary. We walked up the gangplank into the
bowels of the magnificent ocean liner. And walked, and walked
all over the ship. I even stopped at the gift shop and bought
a Queen Mary medal. (I mentioned I was on a buying trip!)

"After lunch we headed back to his home.  He led me into the
back yard. Off to the right was a small building, formerly a
tool shed I believe. Inside was his office and library.  His
library had been banned from the house. But he had created a
cozy enclave with comfortable chairs and lots of numismatic books.

"I am frequently amazed at successful and powerful men who
placate wives by bending to their will against their collecting
interests.  How much better it would have been to have kept that
library inside the house. As I recall Charlie's study had a
musty smell. I don't recall how far his home was from the ocean,
but there was moisture in the area.

"The conversation, of course, was on numismatics, collecting
specialties and such. At the time Charlie was on the committee
to select the city where ANA headquarters would be located.
It seems California collectors were miffed that everything
numismatic was on the East Coast. They would have liked ANA
on the West Coast.  A compromise was accomplished with
examinations of cities in the Midwest.  Omaha, Nebraska and
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma were two candidates.  It finally
located in Colorado.

"But Charlie Johnson was very kind, very knowledgeable about
numismatics and liked by everyone who knew him. I'm glad I
knew him and fondly remember our one day together."

George Kolbe writes: "I purchased the American portion of
Charles M. Johnson's library; Douglas Saville, then of Spink,
purchased the works on foreign and ancient numismatics. There
is quite a story to this  someday I will write an article.
A teaser: I visited Charles M. Johnson at his longtime home
in Long Beach and made an offer to purchase his entire
numismatic library, which he accepted. Later that day he died."


[I guess for bibliophiles, life's not worth living without
a numismatic library.  -Editor]

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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