Greg Bennick's latest interview for the Newman Numismatic Portal is with London dealer Richard Lobel. Here's the first of six parts, where Richard talks about becoming a coin collector and dealer.
Greg Bennick: Hi, everybody. My name is Greg Bennick. I'm with the Newman Numismatic
Portal. And I'm doing a series of interviews with important numismatists from around the world.
Today, I've got Richard Lobel with me. And Richard and I are going to be discussing Coincraft,
his store and his history in coins. Richard, it's so nice to see you today.
Richard Lobel: Nice seeing you. I'm glad I've actually got this damn thing working. (laughs)
Greg Bennick: Well, I'm really glad too. It's great to see your face and to hear your voice. Well,
let's just dive in. Tell me about Coincraft. My understanding is that you started Coincraft, which
is your store now, but that you started it as a store in 1955 in --
Richard Lobel: Well, I started -- No. I was in collecting coins before 1955, but I date my
starting in the coin business and the rest from my first paid subscription to a coin publication in
1955, still the world's greatest coin publication, the Numismatic Scrapbook magazine
Greg Bennick: That's wonderful.
Richard Lobel: I was a young kid at summer camp. I had collected coins and all of a sudden
I've got this 300-page thing in front of me using words I don't understand. By the end of summer
camp, it was threadbare, but I loved it.
Greg Bennick: And when you say the Numismatic Scrapbook from that era in 1955, 300 pages
was one issue. I mean, those things were thick back then!
Richard Lobel: Oh yes, 360 sometimes. It was done by the Hewitt brothers in Chicago. And
they were actually printers, and they had the Numismatic Scrapbook magazine, and it was so
successful that they hated it, so they never sent out renewal notices. You had to remind them to
renew your subscription.
Greg Bennick: Amazing. Amazing. So, when you started in 1955 then, so I guess my
understanding was that you started collecting and then formed Coincraft, meaning that started in
Boston, but maybe it did not. Maybe it…
Richard Lobel: No, I started -- I was 10 and a half years old, and I went to the bank in Boston
where I was living, and I bought a $50 sack of pennies, 5,000 pennies, and I went through them.
And I found one worth a dollar, which is fine. And I took it to the dealer, and he offered me 50
cents again, which I thought was honest. And I went home and I said, I carried that sack of
pennies. I ruined my eyes. I rolled it up. I made 49 since he made 50 cents. I'm on the wrong
side of the cabinet. And so I went into the coin business, buying and selling.
Greg Bennick: That's amazing. Now you were how old at that point? You said 10 and a half….
Richard Lobel: 10 and a half years old.
Greg Bennick: Okay. So, did you end up going to university then, or did you immediately get
into buying and selling coins professionally and just stick with that?
Richard Lobel: I was buying and selling coins when I was at university. My father paid most of
my bills, but I was a very wild youth. I have to put that. And the money I earned on the coins
helped me doing some of the other things I wanted to do. But I loved it. I was lucky my father
went to university with a man called Morris Murray Gould. Now he had a coin company, but he
was also a numismatist. He wrote the Whitman, the first black books on Hawaiian coins, on
Alaskan coins, on Puerto Rican coins, and he gave me a box of old coins. Rubbish. I mean, but to
me, there was a French coin, it was a hundred years old or other coins. I mean, it wasn't worth a
lot of money, but it was fascinating. And I'm fascinated with history.
Greg Bennick: That's wonderful. Now did you finish university? Did you go and finish college
before delving even further into coins?
Richard Lobel: Yeah, I went to Boston University. They kicked me out twice, and I dropped out
once before I got my degree. And when I dropped out the first time, I got a job in a bank as a
stock transfer clerk. That's when computers were first coming in, and you took a pencil and
checked the numbers across. And I got $41.31 cents a week take home pay. And one day, in my
lunch, I'd go around to all the coin shops -- Boston had a lot of coin shops. And one day, I
bought from Joe, I forget who -- Anyway, I bought a 1911 Canadian dime for $10. I dipped it
and I sold it to JJ Teaparty, Eddie Leaventhal, for $90. And I realized I'd made $80 then, which
was basically twice what I was earning at the bank. So, I decided it was better to be in the coin
business full time.
About the Interviewer
Greg Bennick (www.gregbennick.com) is a keynote speaker and long time coin collector with a focus on major mint error coins. Have ideas for other interviewees? Contact him anytime on the web or via instagram @minterrors.
To watch the complete video, see:
Richard Lobel of Coincraft Interviewed for the NNP by Greg Bennick
To read the complete transcript, see:
Richard Lobel of Coincraft Interviewed for the NNP by Greg Bennick (Transcript)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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