The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 18, Number 26, June 28, 2015, Article 8


John Feigenbaum of David Lawrence Rare Coins published an article in CoinWeek about the publication of his father's book, Tales from the Bourse - Short Stories From My Life As a Coin Dealer. -Editor

Tales from the Bourse

With his trusty young son (me) at his side, Dave had already been building a small part-time coin business.

We traveled extensively to regional coin shows on the weekends and started a fledgling mail order operation out of the spare bedroom in the house.

To be honest, it was really quite fun and afforded me lots of opportunities to learn the basics of small business operations. I learned basic business skills like managing expenses, balancing a checkbook, insurance, customer relationships, and so on. My father and I loved this little business more than anyone could imagine.

Originally, we published multi-page price lists of thousands of circulated Barber coins graded from AG to AU, with an average price of about $25.

In the days after the price list was mailed out the orders would come in and we’d delight in every single sale. Daily trips to the post office to look for orders were the highlights of many days.

I recall, for example, a customer that came out of the blue with an order for over 50 individual coins. The total for the order was around $750, but my father was so excited you would’ve thought he’d won the lottery.

A single order like that gave him the motivation to take the business to the next level, and he was the happiest person in the world to be able to turn a life-long hobby into a career.

Sadly, that career was cut short.

In 1996 as the company was growing, Dave’s body was breaking down. I probably don’t have to tell you how terrible ALS is. But seeing it rob my father of the use of his limbs and throat muscles first-hand is something that no words can adequately describe.

My father was brave and undeterred through his horrible “journey” and he adapted to any technology then available to help him cope with the hours of boredom stuck in a useless body.

He eventually lost all use of his arms and legs, so he discovered an eye-gaze device which allowed him to type with eyeball movements, focusing on specific letters on a screen. The time required to write a single word was excruciating but it kept him busy and mentally active.

During the time between 1998 until he passed in 2002, Dave wrote two books entirely with the eye-gaze system. The first, entitled Journeys with ALS, was a compilation of short stories of other ALS victims and the story behind the disease’s effect on the patient and family members.

The second book was Tales from the Bourse: Short Stories from my Life as a Coin Dealer, which he eye-penned in 2001.

The book recounts 19 different vignettes of events that stuck in his mind from thousands of interactions he’d had during his career as a part- and full-time coin dealer.

Some are funny, others are strange and all are personal for me because I bore personal witness to most of them.

Acting as his publisher/editor, I recall cringing while I worked on the final edition. With all respect for a man in his physical state at the time (paralyzed, weak and literally speechless) I came to him with the draft under my arm and tried to break the news to him gently.

I said something like Dad, nobody will read this book. The stories really aren’t that interesting. But he looked at me with the wry, contorted smile that is all an ALS victim can manage and told me in a single glance, “Son, you’re wrong. People will read this book, and… even if they don’t, you’d better publish it anyway.”

How could I say no?

The initial printing of the book was 1,000 copies, a full run for numismatic non-fiction.

The response to the book was beyond our wildest expectations.

We sold out the first printing in 6 months. The outpouring of responses from readers was unlike any other book he’d ever written.

The stories strike a nerve with collectors, dealers and non-coin people, because they provide a slice of life into a world that is foreign to most of us.

Amazing story! -Editor

To read the complete article, see:
The Story of Tales from the Bourse (

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