American Numismatic Society Francis D. Campbell Librarian David Hill writes:
If I stopped to read everything interesting I encountered in the course of a day I wouldn’t get anything done, but this small item
from Coin World, August 4, 1961, really caught my eye. It truly was the golden era of coin collecting, when a small firm like Q.
David Bowers’ and James Ruddy’s Empire Coin Company could buy its own lake for the private use of its employees!
Thanks! I don't remember ever reading or hearing about this. Interesting! So I went straight to the source for more information -
Dave Bowers himself, who provided this background and images. Thanks! Great story. -Editor
Dave Bowers writes:
In 1961, we learned that one of the largest privately-owned lakes in the region, near a place called Newark Valley, as part of a
212-acre preserve was available, Phantom Lake it was called, with its own beach and swimming area, with forest surrounding. We bought
this, and named it Lake Empire. We built a pavilion in addition to a two-story house that was already there, and made it available to our
employees and friends for their recreational enjoyment. This was a bright idea. Later, it was sold to the State University of New York
(SUNY Binghamton), and used as a similar facility for college students. The name was retained.
I always felt that our business success should be shared with employees. It was company policy to suggest that when we attended
conventions in distant cities those inclined should go a day earlier or stay a day later to visit museums, tourist attractions, and other
things of interest. It was also policy to have all employees sign in for the same hotels and restaurants, the last often the best in
town, that we did.
Aerial view of part of Lake Empire owned by Empire Coin Company in the 1960s. (Binghamton Evening Press)
Jim Ruddy (left) and Dave Bowers look over the expanse of water.
Hank Spangenberger as lifeguard with some
Empire staff members on a dock in July 1963,
On the other hand a not-so-bright idea was when Jim and I learned that a local company, Creative Printing, was for sale. As we were
turning out catalogs, coin-premium guides, and other things, this seemed be a great idea! It proved to be analogous to buying a herd of
cows instead of buying milk at the grocery store. IBM, General Electric, and some other local businesses were clients, not in a major
way, but because they liked to spread their printing contracts around. We bought another printing press and made some improvements, but
to little avail, as we soon learned that margins in the printing business were nothing like those in rare coins. We gave up the effort
and sold it at a loss.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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