Another charter member of NBS passed away this week - U.S. Large Cent expert Del Bland. Pete Smith and Charlie Davis passed along this online obituary. Thanks. -Editor
Delmar Norris Bland (1933 - 2018)
Born October 26, 1933 - Died, October 16, 2018 Delmar Norris Bland, or Del, of Stanwood, WA, 84, passed away the afternoon of Tuesday, October 16, 2018 in his home, after a
period of heart trouble. Del was an expert numismatician, one of the world's most consulted authorities on early coins of the United States.
He leaves behind his three beloved sons and their families, Stephen Bland, 58, of Sea Girt, New Jersey, and his wife, Lisa Bland, and daughter, Julia; Gary Bland, 56, of
Bethesda, Maryland, and his wife, Lynda Grahill, son, Carson, and daughter, Emery; and Larry Bland, 55, of Madison, New Jersey, and his wife, Donna Bland, daughters, Courtney and
Kaitlyn, and son, Thomas.
Born in Orange, Texas, son of Tracy Bland and Marion (Bland) Neil, Del spent his school-aged years in Everett, Washington, where he settled with his mother as a young boy. He
graduated from Everett High, where he was a varsity athlete in three sports, in 1951. After spending some time at the University of Washington and Everett Junior College, he
relocated to San Jose, California, where he lived for many years. He received his degree at San Jose State University. A veteran of the Korean War, he served most of his time in
the Army in Germany.
Del began collecting, buying and selling coins-primarily U.S. large cents from the colonial era-in the 1950s. Coin collecting became his passion and his profession for the rest
of this life. He ultimately became one of the country's foremost experts on early American copper large cents, particularly on the 56 varieties of 1794 large cent. He traveled
all over the country for coin shows and received multiple awards from U.S. numismatic associations for his research and expertise on large cents. He is a co-author of Walter
Breen's Encyclopedia of Early United States Cents, providing, according to one numismatic expert, "incomparable pedigree and condition census research" in
support of the publication.
Del's love of large cents was matched by his joy of playing basketball, which he did competitively until age 75. He traveled the world with his East Bank Saloon teammates,
won championships and MVP awards-usually playing at least three times a week at his favorite gyms near his home, and especially at the Everett YMCA.
Del married his beloved Nancy (Angell) Bland in 1978. They met at Hereth's Thriftway in Snohomish. Del and Nancy loved to hit the casinos in the area, go to garage sales,
and spend time visiting friends and relatives. Collecting something or another was one of their favorite hobbies, and they loved their dogs. He also loved Rocky Road ice cream and
Dinty Moore beef stew; she loved wine and thrift shops. Nancy passed away in February 2018. A private funeral and burial service will be held on October 20, 2018 in Snohomish,
To read the complete obituary, see:
Delmar Norris Bland (1933 - 2018)
I knew Del through mutual friends in NBS, visiting his home outside Seattle one time in the company of Walter Breen and other bibliophiles. His extensive notebooks on Large
Cent provenances were legendary, and we saw these on our visit. That picture is pure Del. A tall, affable gentleman, he always wore a smile. He will be greatly missed. -Editor
Del Bland and Armand Champa; Image courtesy Charlie Davis
Dave Bowers writes:
Del was a technician in the large cent field, a scientist with excellent methodology. His work will live after him.
John W. Adams writes:
I knew Del Bland very well, back in my cent collecting days in the 1970's and 1980's. We bought several sizable collections together: Del found the material, he and
Denis Loring sold it and I was the bank. Del kept the books and, to say that he was fair and scrupulously honest, should be printed in bold, block letters. His eye for large
cents, his ability to attribute them and the accuracy of his grading were all legendary.
Yes, Del was "affable". At six foot three or so (one of his nicknames was "Tree"), he appeared to be a big, dumb jock. However, underneath the
"bland" exterior was a serious scholar who stood out in his peer group of large cent intelligentsia. There is a little larceny in just about every collector but, in Del
Bland, there was none. He was trusted by all and, of course, he was universally loved.
Del's voluminous, carefully-kept notebooks are now at the American Numismatic Society, where they will provide a lasting monument to the accomplishments of this remarkable
Denis Loring writes:
I had the pleasure of knowing Del for nearly 50 years. I think he was 6’5”. Like Eric Newman, Del was a true "truth seeker," no matter where it led him. He was
a tireless researcher, dedicated collector, nth degree copper weenie, and above all a consummate gentleman and a plain old nice guy. Del didn't have a BS bone in his body:
what you saw was what you got. Rest in peace, my friend.
Jim Neiswinter writes:
The book about Eric Newman is called Truth Seeker. If a book is ever written about the life of Del Bland it would have to be titled Information Seeker. Del was
constantly looking for information on large cents and the people who owned them. Not just the current owners. Del wanted to know every person, present and past, who had owned
significant (and even the less significant) large cents. To that end he travelled the country looking for old catalogues that he could find any kernel of information on pedigrees.
I was at the ANS general meeting yesterday and I spoke with Dan Hamelberg. He told me that Del had been to his home in Illinois on three different occasions looking through his
vast collection of coin catalogues.
I knew of Del Bland since I joined EAC in 1983. He was a long time member of the club, but I did not get to know him until 1986. In February that year I bought my first coin at
auction. I had gone to the Long Beach show for the Van Cleave sale of large cents. It was at this auction that I got the 1793 S15. This is the discovery coin for that variety.
There used to be three coin shows in New York City every year. I saw Del at the May show in 1986. I introduced myself and told him I had gotten the Van Cleave S15. He exclaimed
“so you’re the one” and pulled out paper and pen to take down my information. We became instant friends.
A few weeks ago the American Numismatic Society took possession of the Del Bland archives. There were some 30 boxes of material. The majority of this was his “cut & paste”
project. My friend Jan Valentine says that Del got at least two catalogues for each sale. He would cut out the plates and info of cents and half cents and paste them into 3 ring
binders. Jan believes that Del had 1 binder for each variety of that year from 1793 to 1857. Unfortunately everything the ANS got is sealed until they can decide on the “protocol”
for viewing the material.
This was not all of Del’s archives. Jan got a call from Del last year. He offered Jan everything the ANS was not going to get. Jan flew to Seattle in April, rented a van
and drove to Del’s home in Stanwood. He took back close to 100 boxes of material to his home Colorado Springs – mostly the catalogues that were not cut up that had
Del’s annotations, along with some of Del’s personal items.
The copper community was extremely lucky to have Del do the work he did (and loved doing) for so many years. Who will replace him? He will be missed.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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