The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 21, Number 43, October 28, 2018, Article 6


Last week was a record for E-Sylum obituaries (five), and I hope that record stands for a long time. It made for a hectic weekend, with emails flying constantly. But the issue somehow came together, and I was happy to be able to assemble tributes to our old friends. Here are some additional reader comments. -Editor

Vic Mason of Mamaroneck, NY writes:

I’m sorry to hear about the recent passing of the five distinguished ANA members. They represented a lot of collective numismatic wisdom. I have long enjoyed The Cherrypickers’ Guide of J.T. Stanton and Bill Fivaz.

Frank Robinson writes:

Wow! Holland Wallace, J.T. Stanton, Cal Wilson, and more. Seems like a numismatic holocaust. I feel lucky to still be here.

Me, too! I felt like the Grim Reaper last week. When the shock wore off I wondered if there was any humor we could salvage from the situation. I knew three of the five (Cal, Del and J.T) and think they'd appreciate the irony. So what what it would be like if three numismatists showed up together at the Gates of Heaven? Would Saint Peter have a test for them? Maybe, "attribute this coin and you can enter!"

I could see Del Bland going first, beaming when he saw a U.S. Large Cent in the apostle's hand. "That the best ya got, Pete? That's easy - a Sheldon-32" Peter waves him through the gate.

Next is Cal Wilson and Saint Peter pulls out another Large Cent. Cal reaches into a bag and brings out a copy of Penny Whimsy. He looks at the coin, flips through several pages, then pronounces it a Sheldon-45. Peter waves him through the gate.

Now J.T. is up. Out comes another Large Cent. J.T. frowns, but notices Cal left his book behind. He picks it up, flips thru the pages while checking the coin. He pulls out a high-power magnifier and scrutinizes the coin He looks again at the book, then the coin. "What is this - a trick question?" he asks. It's a new variety. It's like Sheldon 65, but the last '0" in '100' has been recut. Peter smiles and waves J.T. through.

Then Del pipes in, his head towering over the top of the gate. "Who owns that piece? Where did they get it? And can you send me down to New York for a couple hours? I gotta update my binders." -Editor

Holland Wallace
Brian R. Stickney writes:

Holland Wallace I was saddened to hear of the passing of Holland Wallace. Oddly, in all the years of collecting Latin American coinage and writing about Central America, I don't ever remember actually meeting Holland, in part, because much of my foreign service career was spent overseas. But, though quiet and unassuming, Holland's positive influence was omnipresent. In my view, Holland authored and published one of the more influential numismatic works of the modern era, Central American Coinage Since 1821, published in 1965 and 1966 from Weslaco, Texas. This handy 125-page book opened the field to collecting the seven countries now constituting Central America.

Holland's work provided just enough background to arouse interest and provide historical context but, then, saturated the reader with numismatic detail not really seen in references to that date. Central American Coinage incorporated a plethora of photos along with each coin's narrative description, weight, diameter, and metallic content along with prices in three-to-four grades and the occasional cryptic comment on rarity or variations. Also, for the first time, he provided extensive mintage data, where known. He set the tone for future endeavors addressing country, regional, and even global numismatic references works. He will be missed.

Cal Wilson
Dave Lange writes:

Armand Champa and Cal Wilson I knew Cal Wilson well all through the 1980s and up until the time I left California for New Jersey in 1994. When I first became serious about numismatics as being more than just filling holes in an album, I began to seek reference books in the United States field. This was in the late 1970s, and very few new books of any merit were being published, but Al Hoch's Quarterman Publishing was making evermore reprints available of the great early works.

I met Cal at the Fremont (California) Coin Club's annual show around 1980 or so, and he was just then beginning to dabble in selling numismatic literature. I ended up buying the Quarterman edition of Valentine's book on half dimes out of the trunk of his car right then and there. He mentioned that he could supply other desired books, such as Crosby, Newcomb and Browning, but he didn't have them with him. Instead, we arranged to meet another day in the parking at the canning company where he worked in some executive capacity. He popped the trunk, and voila! I thus acquired several more books in this manner, until Cal mentioned that he was actually opening up a numismatic literature business. It was around that same time that he convinced me to the join the NBS.

Cal initially had an actual store front in Fremont, but the overhead of this must have been too much, because he soon relocated to what could only be described as a "unit" in a light industry building. It may have been an actual storage facility, but I was so preoccupied with finding his door that he didn't take much notice. I made a point of visiting him at least one Saturday each month, and many times I didn't buy a thing. We just shared some gossip and made plans for get-togethers with other numismatic "bookies" at coin shows and conventions. It was always an enjoyable experience, but I did learn that Cal's mood was quite variable. There were times when he seemed rather melancholy and drank one or two beers too many, but it never affected our friendship. I was a charter subscriber to Wilson's Numismatic Repository and even submitted artwork for its masthead, though Cal wisely selected a better entry for his publication.

In the early '90s he began having actual numismatic literature auctions in conjunction with coin shows in Santa Clara and San Jose, but these seemed to overwhelm him a bit. There were more and more piles of stuff that people had sent him that just weren't practical to sell and ship. One incident I remember well was when he received a complete run of Coin World from a consignor in the Southwest. When he began opening the cartons, dozens of black widow spiders scattered in all directions. He ended up dumping the entire lot and simply paying the consignor his shipping cost to be done with it. These kinds of stories were becoming more commonplace, and I could see that he wasn't enjoying the business anymore. Cal folded up shop, and I saw him only sporadically after that. I later heard stories about unpaid consignors and similarly distressing issues, though I can say that all my transactions with Cal were rewarding ones. I'm sorry to learn of his passing.

Del Bland
Dave Lange writes:

Del Bland and Armand Champa I didn't know Del Bland beyond a casual acquaintance, and that was mostly in the mid 1980s. I met him through my then girlfriend Carol, who was an enthusiast of 1794 cents, and Del was her mentor. I was always impressed with his vast knowledge and gentlemanly manner, and I could see that he was an excellent counselor to Carol. Del understood her very limited budget and did what he could to steer bargains her way. He provided an excellent counterpoint to anyone who claimed that the EAC bigwigs were sometimes dismissive of beginners. I've never found that to be true, and Del was a superb ambassador for both the hobby and the EAC.

George Kolbe writes:

I first met Del in the mid-1970s. He was the first person interested in numismatic literature to visit me in Mission Viejo. This was before my first auction in early 1976 and, truth be told, well before it occurred to me that there was a living to be made selling rare and out of print numismatic publications. Del certainly encouraged me on that visit, the first of many to come (Linda and I marveled at the hundred dollar bills he left in exchange for paper-covered pamphlets). Del was literally a Parnassus on Wheels, though he was more interested in buying than in selling and his main focus was on United States large cents—perhaps only somewhat more than the body of literature supporting them.

Over the following years, Del visited me at home in Mission Viejo, at my first office in Santa Ana, then back to Mission Viejo in a 1,100 square foot facility in a nearby business center. In 1983, we moved to Crestline where, after a large addition, the entire first floor of our new home was devoted to the business, and a large adjoining garage served as a storage area for incoming shipments. It almost goes without saying that Linda and I were rarely able to park our cars in said garage, though there was substantial additional storage space therein, along with well over 1,000 linear feet of shelves and additional storage space inside the office.

During his frequent visits to Crestline, Linda and I spent many pleasant hours with Del. Sometimes he was accompanied by Bob Vail, an accomplished bibliophile; in later years Jan Valentine sometimes completed the dance card. John Bergman often drove up and all of us would routinely go out to dinner at The Stockade, a bar/restaurant with a dubious facade but great food.

It was a wonderful time, and Del’s friendship and encouragement was a lodestar to Linda and me. He was a very good bargainer but the process was always friendly end enjoyable. Del must have purchased thousands and thousands of classic American auction sale catalogues, ranging in value from a dollar or two to four figures. This immense body of data, heavily supplemented by other sources, enabled Del to substantiate the malfeasance of Dr. Sheldon and, even more importantly, to establish pedigree chains for virtually every significant large cent depicted anywhere in the literature. This was done in the days when snail mail was the only mail, and personal computers were virtually non-existent.

If one were to ask advanced American coin collectors about Del Bland, many of those whose acquisitional compass does not include large cents or numismatic literature would not know of him. Those of us who were privileged to know Del, know that he was a numismatic giant. There will never be another like him.

Thanks, everyone. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
CAL WILSON (1944-2018) (
DEL BLAND (1933-2018) (
HOLLAND WALLACE (1940-2018) (
STEVE RATLIFF (1947-2018) (
J.T. STANTON (1952-2018) (

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