Red Book Editor Emeritus Ken Bressett submitted this remembrance.
PHOTO: Neil Shafer and Ken Bressett in 2021 (courtesy Whitman Publishing).
NEIL SHAFER TRIBUTE by KEN BRESSETT
The numismatic community has lost one of its most stalwart proponents with the death of Neil Shafer.
The news of his passing came to me this morning, and although it was not unexpected for those who
knew of his critical illness, it was shocking and bursting with sadness.
Neil and I have been close friends for the past 60 years, and worked side-by-side at Whitman Publishing
for over 20 years. He was one of the finest people I have ever known, and a consummate numismatist in
every way. Perhaps best known for his encyclopedic knowledge of Philippine coins and paper money, he
was equally renowned for his interest in all numismatic collectibles, and especially for his amusing puns.
In 1961 I was working with R. S. Yeoman as Coordinating Editor for Whitman publications, and needed
an assistant to help with a growing work load. Shafer, who was already well known for his numismatic
expertise, was my first choice and after some hesitation he accepted the position. At that time, he was
in his first semester at Georgetown University studying law and was also teaching instrumental music in
a local public school. In August of 1962, he moved from Washington to Racine, Wisconsin, to begin his
new position at Whitman, and quickly adopted to an equally busy schedule in the publishing industry.
With Neil's help we managed to keep up with an ever-growing workload during a period of accelerated
interest in coin products, although we often joked about our challenges of doing
yeoman work, which
included merchandising programs, and a monthly magazine that we edited and published for a full five
years from 1964-1968. In an effort to make our miniscule staff seem larger than it was, we sometimes
used pseudonyms for the articles we wrote, or occasionally used our spouses' maiden names.
Throughout the years, Neil Shafer and I have always been more like brothers than just good friends. Our
favorite pastime was playing chess, where we were quite equally matched and must have played at least
several thousand games. When not engaged in that, we dabbled in trading coins with each other where
our only rules were that each ended up being happy with the transaction, or whomever really needed
the piece most for their collection could have it.
Many will likely remember Neil for many of his other outstanding talents. As an accomplished viola
player, he played or conducted music throughout his lifetime. He was a master comic, and could rarely
be topped with his clever puns and jokes. His published works on paper money, Philippine currency, and
Military notes are classics. His many well-deserved awards and honors reflect his dedicated labors, and
reasons for being elected to the ANA Hall of Fame in 2008. May his memory live forever.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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