The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 22, Number 33, August 20, 2019, Article 7

PETER GASPAR (1935-2019)

Peter Gaspar, E-Sylum subscriber #1, has passed. Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at Washington University in St. Louis, Gaspar signed on in September, 1998. He submitted many articles and comments over the years on topics as varied as purity and brittleness of gold, nondestructive analysis of 1792 silver center cents, the Newman Money Museum, Numismatics in Fiction, "dateless" 20 pence coins, "Numismatics in the Age of Grolier," and extracting coin embedded in Lucite.

I was fortunate to finally meet him one day in St. Louis, as we both attended an early meeting called by Eric and Andy Newman to plan what would eventually become the Newman Numismatic Portal. So Peter was present at the inception of both of my major online numismatic projects.

He was proud to be our first subscriber, and I'm equally proud to have known him. Rest in Peace, old friend. -Editor

Len Augsburger writes:

“With the Newman Numismatic Portal administered through Washington University in St. Louis, it was an easy decision to invite faculty member Peter Gaspar to the formative meetings. Gaspar spoke with authority and always captured the attention of the room. Gaspar’s numismatic interest focused on early English coinage as well as the technical aspects of mechanics and metallurgy, for which Eric P. Newman frequently sought his counsel. Gaspar served on the board of the American Numismatic Society and made important contributions to the numismatic literature that will continue to bear fruit. Gaspar was first a research chemist, and might have wished to dedicate more time to numismatic endeavors, but still contributed significantly to the field. He will be missed.”

This obituary was published August 12, 2019 by Washington University in St. Louis. -Editor

Peter Gaspar Peter P. Gaspar, professor emeritus of chemistry in Arts &Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, died Saturday, July 27, 2019, in St. Louis, following a long illness. He was 84.

Gaspar was born in Brussels in 1935 and moved with his family to the United States in 1939. He earned his undergraduate degree at the California Institute of Technology and his PhD at Yale University in 1961. Gaspar began teaching at Washington University in 1963 and taught and conducted research at the university until his death in 2019. He was a physical-organic chemist and a leader in the field of organosilicon chemistry.

“He specialized in the pursuit of fleeting, reactive intermediates known as silylenes,” said William Buhro, the George E. Pake Professor in Arts &Sciences and chair of chemistry. “A highlight of his career was his recognition by the American Chemical Society with the Frederic Stanley Kipping Award for organosilicon chemistry in 1986. Peter was also a large figure in the life of the chemistry department. He will be missed.”

He was a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, the American Numismatic Society and the Royal Numismatic Society (Great Britain). His honors include the American Numismatic Association’s Heath Literary Award in 1980. He held many appointments as a traveling lecturer, including with NATO, the French Ministry of Education and as a Fulbright scholar.

Gaspar is survived by his wife, Ann Carole Gaspar, and son, Damon Gaspar, both graduates of Washington University and residents of St. Louis. His family is organizing a memorial service, which will take place in the fall.

Douglas Saville of Reading, England writes:

I knew Peter Gaspar, and came to respect him over the 50 years I knew him, for many reasons. The fact that Peter Gaspar – actually, he was Professor Emeritus of Chemistry - was subscriber number 1 to The E-Sylum in September 1998, indicates his commitment to our subject. He was a man of great intellect, and he applied that to all areas which interested him, and, fortunately for us, coins were included, from an early age.

I have fond memories of Peter coming to London between 1969 and 2000, when I was working at Spinks, and editing their publications from the 1980s, and we always found the time to meet up. Mostly he would be travelling to London for Conferences in the UK, or simply stopping off there for a day or two, and on his way elsewhere in Europe. And it was good for me to meet up with Peter. We usually had a pub lunch – sausages, beans and chips, and a pint or two of beer were his favourites.

I would often have problems connected with books I was editing, or articles submitted for the Numismatic Circular, that I found difficult to sort out - and he usually had the answer, or at least suggestions that I could reasonably put to the authors…… a great help for me. He always had a certain view on a subject- any subject in fact, but he delighted in anything connected with coins. His main interests were in the British hammered series, but also the techniques of minting coins, especially later minting machinery, fascinated him - and he was a great authority on the processes connected with the manufacture of coins. For many years, and until recently, he was Corresponding Member for the United States of the British Numismatic Society - and he served the Society and the subject admirably.

Peter sent me his latest list of “Numismatic Literature Wants” in December 2014 - he had been sending me such “Wants” for many years – the first was probably mailed to me in the mid-1970s when I was at Spinks……. the obscurity of some of the items listed on those lists is indicated by the fact that the lists never significantly reduced in extent over the years……. Some books, I know, remained there for 40 or more years……….! He was ecstatic if I ever found anything on those lists………

And that reminds me. A close numismatic friend of Peter’s was Harry Manville. Harry passed away in February 2015. I dispersed Harry’s monumental library. It was a huge task - some 110 large boxes were packed and shipped to the UK. In the course of taking the books off the shelves and packing them – it was shelved in 5 or 6 rooms in Harry’s large house in Washington DC - I noticed a note on one of the volumes, a very rare mid-19th century work by Henry Christmas on British Coinage. The volume had been sold by me to Harry in the early 1970s, and at the time Harry, enthusiastic about the purchase, told Peter that he had bought it from me. Peter was dismayed as he had been searching for a copy of that book for years. Harry left instructions that it was to be bequeathed to Peter upon Harry’s death and the disposal of his library. I sent the book to Peter, and he was delighted - he got his book – just some 40 years later!

Gaspar's writings for the NBS journal The Asylum include "English Coins, from the seventh century to the present day by George Cyril Brooke (1932)" and "Numismatics in Fiction - A Trial List"

He will be missed. -Editor

For more information, see:
Obituary: Peter P. Gaspar, professor emeritus of chemistry, 84 (
Peter Gaspar ?Professor Emeritus of Chemistry (

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Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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