The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 17, Number 20, May 11, 2014, Article 8


David Fanning recently came across information that longtime numismatic bibliophile and literature dealer Henry Bergos passed away a year ago. A big bear of a man, Henry was a fixture at many an NBS meeting. I remember him well. -Editor

Here are excerpts from some of Henry's E-Sylum submissions. -Editor

On Meeting Don Taxay

"I seem to have missed the earlier discussion about Don Taxay. Sometime in the early/mid 70s I went to the American Numismatic Society to ask about a 1915 cent I had just bought as a proof. Doc Brady, I think, said that only a few people could tell which ones are or aren't proofs. He then called me back and told me that Don was upstairs in the library on the second floor, and that he was one of the few. I excused myself and asked him about the coin. His eyes lit up and he pronounced it Proof. I thanked him profusely. He was a delight to meet. I THINK we met a few more times but it's been a LONG time.

Regarding the most important numismatic books, I would nominate Taxay's books on "The U.S. Mint and Coinage" followed by his book on Commemoratives ONLY after Dickinson and Walter Breen's Encyclopedia. When I moved I took them with me in my hand luggage; they were that important to me."

To read the complete E-Sylum article, see:

On Opening Virgin Books

"Regarding the discussion about opening up an unsplit book:. I attended the CW Post campus of Long Island University in 1974/5. I was doing some research on English law and requested a book that turned out to be an original from 1763. It was unsplit!!! I asked what to do about it and the library assistant told me to do as I liked, so I split some of the pages. It kinda hurt to do it. What good is a book that has never been read? We as book lovers like to have pristine copies, but unread??? I have two copies of a book one of my Professors wrote: one in the shrink wrap and one that I read."

To read the complete E-Sylum article, see:

On Inflation Currency

"When I rented a store in Israel during our hyperinflationary period, just over 500%/year, in 1984 I had to wrote a check for over 1 1/2 million Shkolim. I quipped to my banker as I did it that I was getting writers cramp from this large number. He almost fell off his chair laughing. It took two lines to write it."

To read the complete E-Sylum article, see:

On Kelley Reprints

"I was the distributor in the Numismatic community for Kelley in the mid-1980s. Fred Cheeseman was the office manager in New York City (Broadway and 25th street), for the NJ company. They were already in bad shape and had warehouses FULL of unsellable scholarly books. Most were printed in the mid-1960s. The idea was to sell to libraries and school libraries. I was not allowed to sell to them. I was being charged 10 or 15% of list price and I sold them at 35-60%. Sales were very poor. I sold between 1987 and 1990.

To read the complete E-Sylum article, see:

I remember Henry telling me how he'd sold the Augustus M. Kelley Reprints of Economics Classics series. I purchased several of these titles from him, and thus have pristine new copies of reprints including Currency and Banking in the Province of Massachusetts Bay by Andrew McFarland Davis and Historical Sketches of the Paper Currency of the American Colonies by Henry Phillips. -Editor

On Kam Ahwash

"I was in line for a photo ID at a Grand Central Convention and someone up the stairs and around the corner called out; "Kam! Kam Ahwash! Has any one seen Kam Ahwash?" He was standing right behind me. I am 6' tall and he was about 5'3" maybe 5'4". I turned around and took a quarter step forward, and with Kam's nose about embedded in my chest called back: "Kam? NOPE, I don't see him." About 20 of us laughed aloud. Kam was the BEST!!! No one was nicer or more fun to be around. He had a SHARP sense of humor and loved to share OUR hobby. He is missed by all who knew him no matter how much time passes. Another who will be spoken of highly - MANY MANY years from now."

To read the complete E-Sylum article, see:

George Kolbe writes:

Henry Bergos was a difficult man. I doubt he would have denied it; he would likely have been proud of it. One thing about Henry was undeniable: he loved his numismatic library, particularly in terms of the information it provided him. Henry either liked you or he did not, although the approval dial was often capable of movement to either side of the meter. He inspired the same dichotomy in many of those who knew him.

I liked Henry. Yes, he could engage you in seemingly interminable conversation, but Henry was an extremely intelligent man and much of his commentary on the human condition was unexpectedly insightful. Like so many of us, Henry Bergos was an original, though he must be accorded extra credits. Several years ago he remarried and moved from New York to Georgia. He had been in poor health for several years and his passing comes as no great surprise, though it is unfortunate that the numismatic community did not learn of his passing earlier.

I concur with George's assessment. Henry could be a bit of a noodge at times, but he was a lovable noodge with a great sense of humor who clearly loved numismatics and numismatic literature through and through. Other reader remembrances are welcome. Would anyone have or know where to find a picture of him? -Editor

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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