I was quite saddened this week to learn of the sudden passing of my good friend Tom Fort - numismatic researcher, bibliophile, and former editor of our print journal, The Asylum. American Numismatic Biographies author Pete Smith pulled together this bio and remembrance. Tom's wife Gosia supplied Tom's photo.
Tom Fort was born on September 14. 1961, the son of James Tomlinson Fort and Judith A.
Davis. James was an attorney and senior partner with the Pittsburgh law firm of Reed Smith
Shaw and McClay for more than fifty years.
Tom attended Penn State University 1980 to 1985 and received a B.A. in European History. He
went to Scotland and University of St. Andrews during 1985-1987 where he earned a Master's
degree in Medieval History and Numismatics. Later at St. Andrews he was a tutor in Medieval
History 1988 to 1990.
Returning to Penn State University at New Kensington, he was an adjunct Associate Professor in
ancient and medieval history 1990 to 1995. He was also an Adjunct Associate Professor at La
Roche College in Pittsburgh 1993 to 1995. In 1995, Tom married Malgorzata Mozer (Gosia), of
Polish ancestry. She has a Doctor of Humanities degree and manages rare book preservation and
special collections at the University of Pittsburgh. They have a daughter Annamaria.
Temporarily out of school, Tom worked as assistant editor for The AAA Motorist, a publication
of the American Automobile Association, East Central, 1995 to 2001.
I wish I could date my first contact with Tom Fort. At one time the Pennsylvania Association of
Numismatists offered a travel grant for research related to Pennsylvania numismatics. I was
researching the Eckfeldt family and submitted an application. A letter of acknowledgement came
back from Tom Fort. I did not receive the grant.
Tom was recruited to be editor of The Asylum, the journal of the Numismatic Bibliomania
Society, starting in October, 1999. After I became president of NBS, he would send me an
advance copy of the newsletter, I would review it, and we would talk about it on the phone. Of
all my duties as president, managing publication of the newsletter took the most time. Tom
promoted and edited the massive twenty-fifth anniversary edition of The Asylum in Summer
2004 (Vol. XXII, No. 3). When Tom resigned after two issues in 2006, we found a replacement
in David Yoon as of the January 2007 issue.
Tom and Wayne Homren organized The Great Numismatic Libraries of Pittsburgh Tour on
Friday, August 20, 2004. Tom's contribution was The E. Tomlinson Fort
with his specialty on ancient and medieval numismatics. Off to one side was the Doc Savage
annex. Twenty-Four people who attended were listed in The Asylum. (Vol. XXII, No, 4) page
Relieved of the duties as editor, Tom did post graduate studies in European History and Roman
Culture at the University of Pittsburgh 2007 to 2009.
Tom's list of memberships includes the British Numismatic Society, the Royal Numismatic
Society, Société Française de Numismatique and he was a fellow of the American Numismatic
Society. His local memberships include the Western Pennsylvania Numismatic Society and the
Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists. Tom had several scholarly articles published on his
specialties of ancient and medieval numismatics. Outside of Numismatics, he was a benefactor of the US Chess Federation.
Tom was troubled with health problems in recent years and died on October 5, 2021.
I've also known Tom so long that I've forgotten where we first met. It was likely a local meeting of the Pittsburgh Numismatic Society or the Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists. Two collectors meeting at a coin club is no big coincidence. But what are the odds of this? - before long I learned he had an apartment in the same suburban building as my then-girlfriend, and a few years later we found ourselves living on the same city street. As Tom delighted in pointing out, there were two major numismatic libraries within a couple blocks walk of each other, and there were probably only a dozen titles in common between them. Tom's specialty was medieval coinage, and my interests were mainly American.
Here's a photo of his library in the home purchased after marrying Gosia. This was one of the stops of the 2004 event. I always told Tom he was my numismatic bibliophile hero - he married a librarian!
Tom's favorite medieval ruler was King Offa, hence his catchy license plate.
Tom was a natural Anglophile and returned to visit London and Scotland whenever a trip could be arranged. Spending a number of months in London in 2007 turned me into an Anglophile as well. While I never picked up the medieval coin collecting bug, that was one more thing we had in common.
Such a shame to lose him so early. I'd been looking forward to seeing him on my planned trip to Pittsburgh this month. Rest in Peace, Tom. Continue your researches in the library of Heaven, and give our regards to your old friend Offa.
Larry Korchnak writes:
"Tom's background in history and interest in coins made him the consummate numismatist. It was no surprise to me that he was drawn to books given his inquisitive nature. Tom was always eager to share his knowledge by presenting at local coin club meetings and enlightening the members with his newest volume or medieval coin acquisition. His quick wit was engaging and he never lost his sense of humor even as he endured numerous medical procedures. The hobby has lost a true gentleman and scholar; I lost a friend."
Douglas Saville writes:
"I was really saddened to hear of the passing of Tom Fort. I regarded Tom as a good long-standing friend. When he was based at St Andrews in the mid 1980s he would often travel to London and visit me in Spinks-and buy a book or two. He was always enthusiastic about his studies in St Andrews. He was enthusiastic about everything actually. He stayed there until the early 1990s tutoring in Medieval History.
In all things he was so positive that I was almost in awe at how he could be that way. He had numerous long-standing health issues. After he settled back in Pittsburgh he would often call me with updates on what he was doing, His family, Gosia and his daughter - he was proud of both.
He had planned a trip to Scotland just before lockdown- so that was
cancelled but he re-planned it for this year but ill health stopped that- but he was looking forward to the trip next year- visiting old haunts in Scotland and a trip or two to London, Oxford and to me in Reading. I am really sad that it won't happen now."
David Fanning writes:
"I was shocked to learn of Tom Fort's death this week, as I had just visited him five or six weeks ago. While I was aware of his various health problems, he seemed his usual self and it was good to see him and catch up on things. I always admired his meticulously arranged library—or, I should say, libraries, as his comic library was nearly as extensive as his numismatic library. The neatness of his shelves and their pleasing organization always made me cringe a bit when thinking of the relative chaos of my own.
I probably met Tom in 2000 at a PAN show. He served as the Editor of The Asylum from 1999 to 2006, and I joined him as Editor in Chief in 2001, working with him for the next five years. Together, we produced the Summer 2004 special book-length issue published for the NBS's 25th anniversary, though as I was bogged down compiling my bibliography of Breen included within, I suspect most of the actual work fell to Tom. He was always energetic and brought a keen intelligence to everything he did. He will be missed by many, and my heart goes out to Gosia and Annamaria."
LEFT: Rich Jewell supplied this photo of him and Tom (at right in suit and tie) at the October 2015 Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists show.
RIGHT: Gosia published this great photo of her and Tom on Facebook.
Thanks, everyone. Douglas is quite right about Tom's upbeat attitude. His ready laugh and sense of humor were his signature, equally at home joking over the foibles of medieval royals, the nuances of pulp comics and their creators, or the hammy acting and plot trivia of Star Trek. He will be greatly missed.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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