The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 16, Number 4, January 27, 2013, Article 6

ALAN HERBERT 1926-2013

Numismatic author and ANA board veteran Alan Herbert has passed away. Here's his obituary from the Rapid City Journal. -Editor

Alan Herbert Alan Herbert, 86, of Belle Fourche died Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, at the Fort Meade Veterans Hospital.

Alan (Masslich) Herbert was born in Chicago on June 13, 1926. He moved to New Hampshire at the age of 6, after his mother, Martha, remarried, he was adopted by his step father, Willis Erwin Herbert.

Following high school he entered the Army in September 1944. After basic training at Camp Joseph T. Robinson in Arkansas, he served with the 15th Army Artillery in Europe. He remained in Germany until 1948 before marrying Liselotte Schellenberger and returning to the U.S. He operated the Fort Bragg, NC hospital radio station until his discharge in 1949.

He enlisted in the Army Reserves after the outbreak of the Korean War and was shipped to the 3rd Infantry Division where he served as a combat correspondent for 11 months. Beside ribbons earned in the European Theater, he received a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star and a field promotion to sergeant while in Korea. His vivid description of an ambushed tank patrol was carried on the entire ABC radio network and brought letters of commendation from several ranking officers.

Herbert spent 27 years in radio and TV, the last 13 as News and Program Director of KBFS Radio in Belle Fourche, SD. Earlier he trained at the American Forces Network stations in Frankfurt and Bremen, Germany, and worked at commercial radio stations in Vermont, New Hampshire, South Dakota and North Carolina.

His first wife died in 1992. They had one son, Richard, who died in infancy of SIDS in 1952. In 1994 he married Josephine Noyce, who died of lung cancer in 2001.

In 1963, he began collecting coins. In 1967, he began writing a weekly column in the bulletin of the Collectors of Numismatic Errors. He served as Secretary of CONE (later CONECA) from 1967 to 1991, and was the first person elected to the CONECA Hall of Fame.

In 1968, his work attracted the attention of Numismatic News and he began writing a column for a national audience, called the Odd Corner, since renamed, but continuous to this day, missing only two or three issues.

Herbert spent several years in Germany, first as a freelance writer photographer, later as European Bureau Manager for Krause Publications (Now F+W Publications.) He returned to the States in 1987 and worked for seven years at company headquarters in Iola, Wisconsin, retiring in 1994 after serving two years as editor of Coins Magazine.

He joined the American Numismatic Association in 1971 and became a life member in 1993. He has served as an exhibit judge since 1979. He was elected to the ANA Board of Governors in 1999, lost in 2001, then regained his seat from 2003 to 2008. In 2010, he replaced a resigning Governor and was once again on the Board.

Herbert wrote and illustrated two sections of the ANA Correspondence Course and served as chairman of several Board committees, including Consumer Protection, Information Technology and Terms and Standardization. He presented a number of programs, both in the ANA Numismatic Theater and for other clubs across the country. He actively supported the Young Numismatist programs and sponsored a YN exhibit award. He was a member of the ANA 1891 Club.

Among numerous awards from the Numismatic Literary Guild, Herbert was given the prestigious Clemy award in 1997. The ANA awarded him their Medal of Merit in 1994 and the Glen Smedley Award in 2001. Numismatic News made him a Numismatic Ambassador in 2004.

Other firsts included being the first journalist to cover the meetings of the World Mint Director's Conference, beginning in 1976. He began working with computers in 1978 when Apple was still a toy. He served as a technical consultant for the Krause "Standard Catalog of World Coins” for many years.

His question and answer columns (Coin Clinic) appear in each issue of four publications Numismatic News, World Coin News, Bank Note Reporter and Coins Magazine. He served as a contributing editor for all four publications.

As an author, he recently finished the seventh edition of "The Official Price Guide to Mint Errors," which first appeared in 1972. Two books featured frequently asked questions from his question data base. An earlier book covered investing in silver dollars. A recent book, "Coin Collecting 101" is directed at the novice and intermediate collector. He was currently putting the finishing touches on "The Official ANA Dictionary."

A crowning achievement was the compilation of the PDS System for cataloging minting varieties. He also produced a similar system for paper money errors. As a professional photographer he cataloged and photographed examples from more than 9,000 different coin dies.

On the home front, Herbert was a Master Mason in Cedar Lodge 124 in Belle Fourche, a member of the Moose lodge, a charter member and past commander of the AMVETS Post # 1 in Belle Fource, and was also a member of the American Legion post. He was an active member of the Christian Life Center.

In 1970 he spearheaded an unsuccessful drive to get Mount Rushmore on the back of the $2 note, climaxing with a "Billion Dollar" banquet put on by the Chamber of Commerce with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing Director, James Conlon, as the featured guest, along with South Dakota’s then Governor, Frank Farrar.

To read the complete article, see: Alan Herbert (

Bob Van Ryzin writes:

I am saddened to learn of Alan Herbert's death. He was a true friend and a good colleague during my years here at Krause Publications.

Alan used to like to rewrite the hobby axiom about buying the book before the coin to add that you should read the book as well.

I remember that when I started I took this to heart, as I read everything I could get my hands on. At one time I could say that I read everything Alan wrote. I learned a lot from him, as did others in the hobby.

Alan was a true professional. If you asked him for a column, he would reply quickly with, "'l'll get right on it." You would soon have the polished, finished product in hand.

I was honored that he asked me to write forewords for a couple of his books. I was even more honored when he agreed to do one for one of mine.

Goodbye, Alan. You will be missed by the hobby and your friends.

George Cuhaj writes:

I only worked with him for two months before he left town. His legacy to me, was that I bought his used Fifth Avenue, which his neighbor had backed into on the driver's side door. He did not repair it. However, for me, as my first car, it was a land yacht, and served me well for three years until I hit a patch of ice, did a 180 over a low grassy median and three lanes of traffic and ended by hitting a bridge guardrail broadside. No injuries to me the driver, but the car was totaled.

It served me well those first years in Wisconsin, and the scouts in the troop loved it when I would take out a raccoon or two traveling to camp and they would go thump, thump, thump in the wheel well before being ejected

John and Nancy Wilson of Ocala, FL submitted these thoughts on Alan Herbert. "Keith Stock" refers to a bequest of several million dollars' worth of stock in the Ben E. Keith Company, which is a food and Anheuser-Busch distributor. -Editor

We just received word of the Passing of noted numismatist Alan Herbert. We have known Alan for many years and John served on the ANA Board with him. Alan was one of the most knowledgeable numismatists we have ever known. We always joked with Alan that he not only should be the Answerman for Krause (F + W) Publications, but also the ANA - he would have to answer the hard questions. We will never forget the Tucson, AZ ANA convention held some years back. It was the time the ANA was debating what to do with the Keith Stock. J. T. Stanton, Alan Herbert (always ready with his camera) and myself (John) were at the Krause Publications booth. Probably J. T. got the idea that he would put his hand in the cookie jar (representing the ANA Keith stock), and I would shake my finger at him. The photo was taken by Alan and appeared in one of the upcoming Numismatic News stories. The Keith stock stayed solvent then as well as it is today.

Alan, was a gentleman of the highest degree and always had a calm and cool presence about him. He was not only an employee of Krause, but a dedicated numismatist for many organizations - especially ANA. We remember one time at the ANA Summer Seminar where we saw Alan unloading his car at the headquarters loading dock. He was almost done unloading about a dozen boxes of numismatic references he was donating to the Association. It was a fine assortment of books and not auction catalogs (which have little value).

Alan and Brian Miller Alan also donated financially to the Association. He was a member of the 1891 Alliance and gave the Association $1,891 on a regular basis as long as this program lasted. Even though Alan had health problems for many years, he still came to the ANA conventions and helped where he could. An attached photo shows Alan with ANA Floor Manager Brian Miller. The other photo shows Alan with Kay Lenker at Chicago 2011 ANA.

Alan and Kay Lenker 2011 Chicago ANA

We will miss not seeing and talking to Alan at conventions. We think that his life was almost 100% "numismatics.” He served the hobby in an exemplary and dedicated manner in many capacities. Not only did he serve on the ANA Board, but other hobby groups as well. Alan was an expert in error coins and was the author of several fine references dealing with that subject and others. Alan was the recipient of ANA Awards. In 1994 he was the recipient of the Medal of Merit and 2001 the Glenn Smedley Memorial Award. He also received numerous literary awards. He will be greatly missed by his thousands of friends throughout the United States. Our sincere sympathies and condolences to his family. Rest in Peace Alan, as we will never forget you.

Dave Harper of Numismatic News wrote a column on Alan Herbert. Here's an excerpt. -Editor

When Alan Herbert, the renowned Answerman who writes the Coin Clinic column in Numismatic News died Saturday at the age of 86, an era came to an end.

When he began writing for Numismatic News in late 1968, he probably did not realize that he would continue his association with the paper in one form or another for the next 44 years or so.

His role with Numismatic News began as an authority on error coins and that was the topic of his “Odd Corner” column.

Alan took it as his mission to educate collectors as to the many errors that are common and the few that are not.

Another thing that was so compelling was Alan’s sharing of credit. He would photograph and publish images of coins sent to him by readers and announce to the world that this person was the finder of such and such.

A public slap on the back certainly didn’t hurt his many contacts in numismatics who supplied him with coins to evaluate. Some were regulars. Some asked one question and that was it.

Alan was great fun to work with in a reserved sort of way. His many experiences of life would turn into stories shared at a quiet moment.

My favorite was when he lived in Germany, long before East and West were reunited.

Germans like to know what you do for a living. It affects how they treat you.

Alan Herbert proudly wore our corporate Krause Publications pin when it was created. Many readers might recognize the “KP” initials.

The Germans did, too. It meant something else.

He noticed his good friends behaving unusually.

One had the courage to ask him: “Are you really a member of the Communist Party?”

Alan quickly put the pin away.

To read the complete article, see: Alan Herbert will be missed (

Archives Ad 2013-January

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at

To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor at this address:

To subscribe go to:



Copyright © 1998 - 2020 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS)
All Rights Reserved.

NBS Home Page
Contact the NBS webmaster