The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 24, Number 26, June 27, 2021, Article 10

JOHN G. HUMPHRIS (1936-2021)

Bern Nagengast alerted me to the passing of John G. Humphris. Thanks. Here's an excerpt from his online obituary. -Editor

John G. Humphris John G. Humphris, 84, of Sidney passed away Saturday, June 5, 2021 at 9:20 PM at Ohio Living Dorothy Love. He was born on November 24, 1936 in Birmingham, England, the son of the late Jack William and Jesse Mae (Jennings) Humphris. On January 3, 1972, John married the former Margaret E. Owen, who survives.

From 1955 to 1959, John was a member of the British Royal Air Force where he served in the intelligence branch with the secret service. He provided invaluable service as a linguist and distinguished himself as a translator of several languages. After finishing his military service, John worked in administration at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham from 1960 to 1966.

In 1966, John accepted a position in Montreal with Collectors Research Limited. He later worked as a freelance researcher and numismatic historian. John and Margaret came to Sidney, Ohio, in 1975, joining the staff at Amos Press at the personal request of J. Oliver Amos. John and Margaret founded the Birmingham Numismatic Society. He was a member of the Shelby County Coin Club for many years. John's freelance work provided Margaret and him opportunities to travel to many countries around the world. John enjoyed the study and translation of languages including Russian, Arabic, Turkish, German, French, Greek and Chinese. John collected books on coins, languages and history. Other interests were calligraphy and art.

Throughout his retirement, John's interest in history, languages and numismatics remained a passion.

Bern writes:

"I'm sure John was known to many of the readers. I knew John having had him translate a number of historical works for me over the last 25 years. He even was able to translate a 1700's scientific paper that was written in Latin! John was always willing to share his knowledge. I considered him a true genius!"

To read the complete article, see:
John G. Humphris (
John Humphris (

The Newman Numismatic Portal contains many references to Humphris. As just one example, a 1981 Essay-Proof Journal article by Humphris ("The Definitions of Essay, Proof, and Specimen Notes: including Cancelled, Unissued, and Unfinished Notes: and Samples Illustrated by Foreign Paper Money" was introduced by the editor as a "landmark, much-needed study."

Here's the complete article preface, which includes a photo and more biographical material. -Editor


The Essay-Proof Society is pleased to be able to present this landmark, much-needed study of the preparatory material produced in the course of the issuance of world paper money (foreign rather than U.S.). It is hoped that Mr. Elumphris' work will be treated seriously and form the basis of an accurate, accepted terminology for the collectibles under consideration. Comments are welcome, addressed to the Editor. The author has tried to define the terminology in a way which will be applicable to worldwide issues in general, but is always open to suggestions and further, new definitions.

Essay Proof Journal article separator

John G. Humphris c1981 John G. Humphris, P.O. Box 34, Sidney, Ohio 45365, started collecting and researching paper money and coins in the Middle East in 1957 while in the British Royal Air Force. In 1964, he joined the International Bank Note Society and started working part-time for a coin firm in England. He has worked full-time in paper money and coins since 1966 when he emigrated to Canada. In 1975, he emigrated to the U.S.A. and started his own business in 1976, as a numismatic consultant and dealer in paper money and coins.

In England he attended university studying art for three years with emphasis on design, printing techniques, calligraphy, and the history of art, artists, and design. Since then he has concentrated on international economics, techniques of production of paper money and coins, general world history and geography, and comparative linguistics. He is able to translate numismatic literature from eight languages, and can translate texts on paper money and coins in about 80 more languages.

He has contributed to many major books, articles, and catalogues on paper money and coins since 1964, including George Sten's books on paper money, and was a languages advisor to Dr. Arnold Keller. He is currently contributing to Krause's Standard Catalogue of World Coins and Pick's Standard Catalogue of World Paper Money. He has written over 350 articles during the past seven years, and was elected to the Numismatic Literary Guild in 1976. He is a member of several other international, national and state societies, and has held offices in these. At present, he is Research Chairman for the International Bank Note Society, and on the panel of experts on paper money for the Interpam 81 Congress to be held in Toronto, Canada in July 1981.

Although born in England, he has spent most of the past 25 years travelling and living in other countries in Europe, the Middle East, India, Canada, the West Indies, and the U.S.A. He is interested in international history, geography, economics, languages, paper money, coins, and fiscal documents. While his interests are in research in general, he is specifically interested in India and the surrounding countries, Chinese and Russian Turkistan, Turkey and the Ottoman Empire, Afghanistan, and Iran.

He is a numismatic consultant to museums, universities, companies, and individuals in the U.S.A. , Canada, and England. He continues to travel extensively (over 32,000 miles by road this year) in these three countries visiting conventions and institutions.

To read the complete article, see:

David Alexander writes:

"I knew the late John Gordon Humphris and his wife Margaret... quite well as they were next door neighbors in Sidney, Ohio, for several years. When the Humphris arrived in Sidney, it was the fervent wish of World Coins editor Courtney L. Coffing that with John on the magazine's staff, the publication would be able to preserve its comparative independence vis a vis Coin World and really take off. Courtney's wishes were totally frustrated.

"Despite his awesome numismatic knowledge and breath-taking command of Arabic, Turkish and Indian languages, newspaper writing was not John's strong suit. Filling Coin World each week (120 to 150 pages per issue) took limitless copy, much of it by necessity light-weight filler. A newspaper is not a democracy: you write whatever the editor demands, NOW! John could never accept this tedious reality.

"John explained, "I came here to be a NUMISMATIC EXPERT, not to write drivel for Coin World!!!" We all wrote drivel and lots of it! That was the name of the game."

"After the shutdown of World Coins and Numismatic Scrapbook as separate publications, John and Margaret then attempted to become foreign coin dealers, setting up at shows in Columbus and Cincinnati."

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Wayne Homren, Editor

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