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.