The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 19, Number 47, November 20, 2016, Article 3


As noted in his earlier announcement, Fred Lake has retired from the numismatic literature business after 27 years and 125 sales. I was reminiscing with some of my fellow NBS members and officers, and here's a sampling of their thoughts. -Editor

Jeff Reichenberger writes:

Best wishes to Fred Lake. My first ventures into numismatic literature auctions were through Fred's offerings. Always cordial and easy to communicate with, I enjoyed the homespun nature with which he conducted business. He will be missed.

Len Augsburger writes:

I never met Fred in person but of course “knew” him from his sale catalogs that arrived every two to three months. Fred didn't carry the world's most expensive literature but what he delivered was solid value sale after sale. I might spend only $50 or $100 at a time, but even this small amount ensured a box of interesting items. The service was reliable and for nearly 30 years Fred provided yeoman service to the hobby, moving items from library to library.

On one occasion I found myself in need of a copy of Lake Books (then known as Function Associates) sale catalog #1, including the library of Harry X Boosel, and Fred immediately forwarded multiple copies gratis.

In pulling the Lake Books catalogs into the Newman Portal, I was struck at the bibliographic cleanliness – the series is almost perfectly numbered (a surprisingly rare occurrence in our corner of the world), with just a single typo on the cover of sale #45. We are all in debt to Fred for filling gaps in our libraries, and we wish the best to his successor, Alan Workman.

John W. Adams writes:

Fred's 125 sales featured solid content, typically free of the all-star items that require one page descriptions. Clearly, his catalogues were a labor of love at the same time that they enabled hundreds of buyers to locate items of relatively low value but high worth. This will not be recommended by the Harvard Business School as a business model, but it was and is a model for enriching our hobby. Fred, all of us are profoundly grateful for the valuable energy that you expended on our behalf.

Syd Martin writes:

I have not had the honor of meeting Fred, although I have interacted with him on both the “buy” and “sell” sides. I've always found him to be extremely helpful and always willing to provide advice. The hobby will be the less for his exit.

Dan Hamelberg writes:

Fred Lake in retirement. We will miss him. I always managed to find gems in his auctions over the years, and always looked forward to his sales. Fred's string of some 125 sales will leave a legacy of how to properly run the business of numismatic literature. Reliable, honest and always helpful. Active with the F.U.N. organization as well, I think Fred discovered the 36 hour day.

David Fanning writes:

I was saddened to hear of Fred Lake's retirement. Since 1989, Fred has provided the numismatic community with a valuable service as a numismatic bookseller. He has often been the go-to guy when you needed a particular catalogue or reference work, and I have joined many others in being a regular participant in his sales. He'll be missed as an active bookseller, not only because of his obvious affection for the hobby but for his straightforward, kind and honest personality. His integrity is rock solid, and I can honestly say I've never heard a word spoken that questioned it. The hobby could use a few more men like Fred and I'll miss his participation.

Joel Orosz writes:

Fred Lake has left an indelible impression upon numismatic bibliomania. The mark of longevity and excellence in coins and literature has always been the cataloging of 100 sales. Fred cleared that mark, and before his recent retirement, got a quarter of the way to the next hundred. Remarkably, he began selling numismatic literature not in his youth, but rather at the age of 61, when most people are pondering a sedate retirement.

Dozens of books on my library shelves came directly from Function Associates sales (Fred's first trade style), and Lake Books, including a couple of the rarest books I possess. I'm proud to say that I was his customer from his first mail bid sale in 1989, and that when the Newman Numismatic Portal needed Lake sales 1 through 59 in order to scan Fred's entire output, I was able to provide them. Fred made that history; I was happy to be able to assure that all of it would be preserved for posterity. Fred, take a bow for a career never to be forgotten in the annals of numismatic bibliomania!

I know Fred mainly as a consignor to his sales. Every now and then I would scan through my shelves and pull out material I felt I could live without in order to free up shelf space for other purchases. Like clockwork I would get a nice check from Fred after the sale and the money would quickly disappear into payment of household bills. I told my wife I was making withdrawals from The Bank of Fred. We thank you!

Neither Fred nor I will ever forget the raucous lunch we had one time with our mutual friend John Burns. I've forgotten which convention we were at or even who else was present, but the conversation devolved to locker room jokes and stories that would make Donald Trump blush. I don't think any of us have ever laughed so hard in our lives - Fred later told me his sides were sore for a week. If you need a good laugh, buy me a beer sometime. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:


OVER 500 NUMISMATIC TITLES: Wizard Coin Supply has over 500 numismatic titles in stock, competitively discounted, and available for immediate shipment. See our selection at

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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