The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 20, Number 38, September 17, 2017, Article 17


Neil and Joel Shafer submitted these great stories about the late Krause Publications cataloguer Colin R. Bruce II. Thanks! -Editor

Colin Bruce

Neil Shafer writes:

There are so many different aspects of my relationship with Colin that it is difficult to know how to begin to organize them. We were friends who worked together on the various editions of the Pick catalog, with a great many arguments and differences of opinion as to how best to integrate loads of newly found information. We teased, discussed and argued about Pick numbers, grading, descriptions and valuations, and we were generally happy with the final results of these discussions.

From the fourth edition in 1982 to the earlier 21st century releases, we worked together as editors. Some volumes were easy, others more difficult, but we managed to compile them year after year. And all the while he was working on a number of other volumes having to do with coins as well as paper.

If you visited him in his office at Krause Publications you might be greeted with two desks piled high with all sorts of papers, correspondence, catalog information, notes either borrowed or to be incorporated; and generally he knew what was where and could usually locate whatever it was he was looking for. Often in his correspondence with me he would poke good-natured fun at some blunder we had pulled, or he would send pieces of a New Issues column he was preparing for one of the papers. At times he might enclose a note or a request for something he thought I might be able to supply. We enjoyed lengthy telephone calls on occasion, and we always came away with a better understanding of each other and our views on a wide variety of topics.

Colin was a very talented and knowledgeable numismatist. Although one might say he worked in a rather unorthodox manner, he managed to accomplish a great deal, and I always felt that together we could do whatever tasks we faced and be able to satisfy their requirements. I tried to keep up with him after we stopped our editing, and I was deeply saddened to learn of his passing. He will be sorely missed.

Joel Shafer writes:

I met Colin Bruce nearly 40 years ago. He had a ready wit and a certain charm. At times, he seemed to enjoy getting under people's skin just a bit. I would see him at shows and in Iola when my father and I would go up to work. The most vivid memories I have of Colin are from when I spent an internship week with him as a high school senior. If there was a way the school could have had prior knowledge of the nature of my stay, it is doubtful they would have allowed the internship to occur.

Besides the numismatic work that we did with the Standard Catalogs, Colin and I found time to play some tennis together and many late chess games well into the wee morning hours (we both won some games). One night, Colin went out to engage in some nightlife and I remained at his home. His fire was going and his flue was closed; when he returned home, his house was absolutely full of smoke. My parents never had a fireplace and I had no idea what was going on; I was afraid I had damaged his house!! He had a big laugh, opened the flue, and before long the house was back to normal.

A lot is made about how the Standard Catalog is not up to current market prices/information. It is easy to complain and point out mistakes; decades ago, well before the computer age, what was difficult to do was to create quality world catalogs mostly from scratch. Colin and my father managed to do that for many years; without their efforts, it is highly doubtful the strong market conditions as well as the many numismatic specialized references we now utilize would exist in their current states.

I continued to see Colin over the years, mostly at shows. He would approach me and ask how my tennis game was progressing. I told him it hadn't and he would say his had not, either. We always managed to share a laugh. And while it was a considerable time period since I last saw him, I will miss him. Rest in peace.

Howard A. Daniel III of Virginia writes:

Colin was one of my first coin dealers I did business with after I returned from the Vietnam War in January 1973. He was quickly supportive of my work to write numismatic catalogs of Southeast Asia. Even after he got hired to work at Krause Publications, he continued to support me, and I also supported him. At Krause Publications, he would "clean" up his cubicle about once a month or so and send me and others all of the contributors' information and photographs for our research that he was sent to update his catalogs. I was always happy when I saw his big brown envelopes. After he retired from Krause we and others would still exchange information and images via email with him. He was a true numismatist who wanted to share all of his knowledge.

The picture you had of him is exactly him right up to the last time my wife and I had dinner with him and Kandy, his wife, just a year or two ago. We used to drive up from Chicago or Milwaukee every time there was a show I wanted to attend in those cities. We also stopped by a couple of times when we drove to shows and/or when I spoke at numismatic meetings in the northwestern part of the US and just across the border in Canada.

My wife and I, and I know of many, many numismatists worldwide, will also greatly miss Colin. The numismatic world is less scholarly without him.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
COLIN R. BRUCE, II (1939-2017) (

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Wayne Homren, Editor

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