The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 16, Number 8, February 24, 2013, Article 6

GERALD "JERRY" BUSS 1934 -2013

John and Nancy Wilson forwarded this article about the late numismatist Jerry Buss. Oh yeah, he had something to do with basketball, too. -Editor

Jerry Buss Jerry Buss had been a chemist and a mathematician long before he bought the Los Angeles Lakers in 1979. The self-made millionaire with a head for business and an impresario's heart immersed himself in the NBA with every skill he acquired along the way.

With his personal alchemy and charisma, he blended two generations of marquee basketball stars and big-name coaches into 10 championship teams. His financial wizardry allowed him to pay top dollar to get the best players and keep them together without a huge personal fortune.

Buss built a glittering life for himself and the Lakers, playing a huge role in the NBA's move from a second-tier pro sport into can't-miss Hollywood entertainment while polishing his oddly nicknamed franchise into a glamorous global brand.

To read the complete article, see: Lakers owner Jerry Buss dies (

Here's an article I found online with information about Buss as a collector. -Editor

1913-Olsen-Liberty-Head-Nickel Jerry Buss is best known as the owner of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team - but to numismatists he is better known as an enthusiastic coin collector.

A less risky way in which he spends his money is on his coin collection - though Buss describes himself as a 'pure collector' and doesn't buy coins as investments. He started collecting aged 10, selecting coins worth 5c, 10c or 20c.

Attracted by the idea of discovering rare pennies in circulation, he went on to assemble three original sets of Lincoln Cents, Buffalo Nickels and Mercury Dimes, perfectly completed except for the 1909-S VDB.

In the mid-1970s Buss suffered a loss of $150,000-200,000 worth of gold coins in a burglary, which he notes was far more painful than purely financial losses - even when he had lost $5m in the markets. It didn't slow him down though.

There were two famous rarities that Buss wanted to track down: a 1913 Liberty Head Nickel and the 1804 silver dollar.

Suitably it was whilst at a basketball game that Ira Goldberg of Superior Stamp and Coin Gallery offered him the chance to own the Olsen specimen (one of five extant) of the 1913 Liberty Head Nickel, for which he paid $200,000.

The coin had by then been the subject of a Hawaii Five-O plotline, was once owned by King Farouk and most recently sold for $3.7m in 2010. Soon after the purchase, the Goldberg's also helped him to acquire the Idler specimen 1804 silver dollar for a similar figure.

Buss is the only modern coin collector to own an example of each at the same time, and that made his name amongst collectors and is a source of pride. But he still owns his original penny board, and first worn out Red Book and original collections - and that too is a source of great satisfaction.

To read the complete article, see: From unusual pennies to the coin from Hawaii Five-O: the collections of Jerry Buss (

Dave Harper had a fun article about unmasking Buss in Numismatic News. -Editor

The late Jerry Buss might be remembered by most people as the owner of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team. To coin collectors, he will be remembered as living the hobby life we all dream of. After all, not many people can own coins like 1913 Liberty Head nickels and then have a name auction to dispose of a collection carefully assembled.

For me, Jerry Buss provided a lesson in being a successful hobby newspaper editor at an early age.

Buss purchased his 1913 Liberty Head nickel for $200,000 in a private treaty sale that was announced in the July 22, 1978, issue of Numismatic News.

At the time, Buss did not want to be revealed as the buyer, so the firm arranging the sale, Superior Stamp and Coin Co. of Beverly Hills, Calif., called the buyer a big star in the entertainment industry.

Readers, of course, would have liked to know who the buyer was. Speculation about who it might be was rampant in the industry.

I was pretty much a bystander to all of this as I had joined the Numismatic News staff just three months earlier.

It was all pretty heady stuff as far as I was concerned. I was curious about the buyer. Who wouldn’t be?

To read the complete article, see: Trying to catch a Buss was daunting (


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Wayne Homren, Editor

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