The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 21, Number 17, April 29, 2018, Article 11

JOHN PETT (1951-2018)

Numismatic literature dealer Douglas Saville (formerly of Spink London) submitted this note. Thank you. -Editor

John Pett passed away on Sunday 22 April, 2018. He was born in Hove, Sussex on 14 August 1951. He was the second eldest of four brothers. After attending Brighton College, he went to Nottingham University where he studied Classics. During his studies he met his wife Adele, and soon after graduating he started working at Spink and Son Ltd, in London, in 1974.

He was trained in the finer points of numismatics by George Muller, who, in turn, had been fortunate to have served his own apprenticeship, from the late 1940s, at Spink’s, under that pre-eminent dealer in ancient coins, Leonard Forrer Sr. (1869-1953). John produced most of the lists of ancient coins for sale that appeared in the Numismatic Circular between the mid-1970s, until Spink’s ceased to publish it in 2012, and provided the cataloguing for many auction sales Spink’s had that included ancient coins between 1978 and 2017. He often travelled to Coin Fairs all over the world, on behalf of the company, and occasionally he represented Spink’s at Congresses organised by the International Association of Professional Numismatists (IAPN).

John stayed at Spink’s for his whole working life, retiring in September 2017, to become a Consultant to the company, and during those 43 years, he never lost his enthusiasm for ancient coins. He built on the knowledge he had gained from working with George, and he took over the management of the Ancient Coin Department at Spinks in the late 1980s. During his time there he was instrumental in helping to form innumerable important collections, in all parts of the world, of Greek, Roman and Byzantine coins, some now dispersed, but many still on-going. The owners of many such collections have been fortunate to have profited from advice and help given by John in his typically unassuming but knowledgeable manner. He had a wonderful “eye” for a nice coin. In the words of a well-respected collector, John was a good person through and through, made of a superior substance. They don't make them like that anymore. His word was better than a written contract and his low-key opinion carried more weight than many fancier ones.

John was diagnosed with a severe form of cancer in the early 2000’s and the determined way in which he coped with the side-effects of the treatment was quite remarkable – and as a result he earned the admiration and respect of all of us at Spink’s who were aware of his situation – and many of his customers who he continued to see in his office at the old company, almost on a daily basis. Yes, they were his customers- at Spink we all had our customers - it was all a part of the service we provided then. He will be very much missed by all of us involved in the numismatic world.

In her Newsletter #66 published April 27, 2018, dealer Shanna Schmidt writes:

On Wednesday morning I remotely attended the DNW auction. There was a moment of silence and a beautiful tribute to John Pett, who died last Sunday. Those that knew Mr. Pett, formerly of Spink & Son, were fond of him.

Wayne Homren, Editor

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