The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 22, Number 2, January 13, 2019, Article 9

RICHARD BAGG, PHD (1946-2018)

I was sorry to learn this week of the passing of Rick Bagg. His long numismatic career spanned stints at Paramount International, Essex Numismatics, Bowers and Merena, and American Numismatic Rarities. -Editor

Richard Bagg Dave Bowers writes:

"I was very sorry to learn of the passing of Rick Bagg. I and the staff of Bowers and Merena Galleries and American Numismatic Rarities enjoyed working with Rick for many years. He was central to our presentation of many “name” collections including those of Emery May Holden Norweb, the Garrett Collection for the Johns Hopkins University, the Virgil M. Brand Collection, the Louis E. Eliasberg Collection and many others. Rick had a keen sense not only of numismatics but also of marketing and finance. He will be mourned by all of us and all others who were fortunate to know him."

John Pack writes:

I met Rick Bagg on September 1, 1997, the day I arrived at the Bowers and Merena offices for a job interview, in picturesque Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. As I approached the door, it burst open, Rick came barreling out, nearly running right into me. I introduced myself as he navigated around me, hurriedly excusing himself as he continued to the parking lot to have a taste of nicotine before racing back into the office to greet me. I recall thinking that he must be in the middle of something very important. What I came to understand was that I had simply witnessed his one occupational speed. He was one of the most energetic personalities I had ever met. He was intense and always thoughtful. By the end of the week, we were well on our way to being friends.

Richard A. Bagg was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in 1946, a single child of parents who presented him with challenges and disadvantages. While unfortunate on the surface, these conditions forced him from a young age to learn to take care of himself, and in this he gained skills he would employ his whole life, effectively getting a head start in some respects. A dear grandfather who had met Babe Ruth (a detail Rick delighted in sharing) and who had lived well into his 90s, was a stable point of support and inspiration along the way.

A pivotal moment came in high school, where he developed a group of friends from far more advantaged families. For the first time, he saw and experienced a different kind of life, and was inspired from that moment to find his own path into it. Armed with natural intelligence, drive and boundless energy, he found his way. He saw to his own education first, earning a Ph.D in psychology from the University of New Hampshire in 1974.

Shortly thereafter, he decided to explore with vigor his interest in rare coins, and in doing so, he found a career that allowed him to enjoy numismatics, his own appreciation of history and his ingrained nature to collect objects that intrigued him. More importantly, it was a career that provided opportunities to engage with many interesting people, those of all walks of life who continued to challenge him and absorb his energy. To a large degree, he thrived on the excitement these interpersonal dynamics provided and, in turn, it propelled his professional success.

Rick’s recognition in numismatics came primarily from his years working as the Auction Director for Auctions by Bowers and Merena, American Numismatic Rarities and Stack’s, intermittently from the early 1980s until 2011. During his career, he worked with many thousands of clients, obtaining their collections for auction and guiding them through the auction process. He loved numismatic history and among the consignments he was most proud of was the library of Armand Champa, sold in four sales by Bowers and Merena in 1994 and 1995. Rick deeply appreciated the volumes included in the Champa library for their quality and handsome bindings, but much more so for the legacy of scholarship in American numismatics they represented. Rick assembled his own library of fine numismatic volumes, of which he was very proud.

Rick was an intense colleague and rarely took a break, working days, nights and weekends on any project that he felt required such attention. Still, he knew how to take time for himself when he needed it. He once pointed out to me that he had been fortunate to figure out how to take one year off for every six years he worked. He devoted those times to his beloved wife and son. In more recent years, this included world travel with them, which he very much enjoyed.

Rick was very bright, focused, creative, efficient, witty and very humorous. He paid careful attention to details and nuances, and aesthetics were always important to him. Though we last worked together in 2011, we remained in touch over the last few years. A call to him was always good for a laugh and an unexpected observation. I have had the pleasure of Rick’s friendship for nearly half my life and have spent countless hours on the phone with him over the years. It is still hard to imagine that he isn’t a phone call away and he will certainly be missed by those of us who knew him best.

From Rick Bagg's web site:

As a Numismatic Advisor, I am involved in all phases of the rare coin business including consulting with collectors, dealers and investors in the purchase and sale of their coins. In a span of four decades as a rare coin specialist and consultant, I have served as negotiator and agent for thousands of clients with several hundred millions of dollars in coins who have sold their holdings through public auction or by outright sale. These clients included professionals of all sorts: doctors, lawyers and others from various backgrounds including sophisticated collectors, dealers, investors and well-known public and private institutions. I have also assembled many high caliber collections worth millions of dollars with complete confidentiality and full disclosure. I appraise collections for estate and insurance purposes and have investment portfolios and collection programs available.

Dave provided this photo of Rick at work in December 2003. -Editor

ANR-2003-12-05 Orlando-Bagg, Rick

For Rick Bagg's web site, see:

To read his Linked In profile, see:
Richard Bagg PhD Rare Coin Specialist and Consultant (

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