Mark Borckardt submitted this amusing item based on his latest research on coin dealer B. Max Mehl of Ft. Worth, TX.
What is a Pneumatic Broker?
Federal Census enumerator Lillie M. Patterson was working on South Adams Street on April 8, 1930, when she arrived at the residence of B. Max Mehl. The actual street number is illegible, but appears to be 2512.
He lived there with his wife Ethel, and their daughters Loraine and Danna. Mehl and his wife were 42 and 39 years old, Loraine was 19, and Danna was 13. In the home with them were Madie and Claude Davis, a maid and servant. Especially surprising is the "new information" that Max and Ethel were both born in Texas, and that their parents were all born in Texas as well!
He obviously lived in a very nice section of Ft. Worth. His home was valued at $30,000, and all the homes in his block were valued between $20,000 and $35,000. His immediate neighbors were employed as a manager of a cattle ranch, and a vice president of a contracting company. Living nearby were a surgeon, two lawyers, and an architect. Perhaps most surprising is Mehl's occupation. The Census enumerator recorded that Max Mehl was a "Pneumatic Broker." It would seem that Mehl must have bought and sold all things Pneumatic.
While humorous, this record provides a lesson in research, that we cannot always assume that historical records are correct. Corroborating evidence is often required. In the case of Mehl, going back to the previous decade, we find his occupation as a dealer in old coins, and that he was born in Russia, facts that we know are correct.
Mark's story is a good cautionary tale to all numismatic researchers. Don't believe every new fact you come across - it may in fact be a piece of crap.
He was no more a Pneumatic Broker than he was a seller of the Hub Coin Boob.
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