E-Sylum Feature Writer and
American Numismatic Biographies author Pete Smith submitted this
article on Indiana coin columnist Joe T. Pollack. Thanks!
Overlooked Columnist Joe T. Pollack
Numismatic literature includes books, periodicals, auction catalogs, mail bid sales and fixed
price lists. Perhaps overlooked are the coin columns published in local newspapers. Some of the
better known columnists include Maurice Gould, Robert Obojoski, Mort Reed and Ed Reiter.
This week I came cross the name of a columnist I may have overlooked, Joe T. Pollack. I found
three columns he had written for The Times of Munster, Indiana. I did not find anything about
him in the Newman Numismatic Portal. I did not find him in any of the standard biographical
resources. It was easy to see how he could be overlooked.
Eventually I figured out the problem. The newspaper misspelled his name, I had better luck
finding information on Joseph Thomas Pollock.
He died on November 30, 2019. His obituary noted that his wife of 45 years, Katherine Lawton
Pollock, had preceded him in death. They had no children. Some other information appears in his
Retired from Bee Chemical/Rohm and Haas as a Field Sales Engineer in the Sales Department
covering Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin. He was a member of the Jaguar Association of
Greater Indiana, The Illinois Jaguar Club, The Calumet Numismatic Club, C.O.I.N.S. of
Homewood, IL. Past member of several camera clubs in the area.
Joe's pleasures were traveling with Kay to close to 100 countries. Taking pictures of the wonders
of the world, driving and displaying his cars at the Jaguar Concourses, collecting coins. His
interest also included the wars of America namely the Civil War and World War II, plus he was a
fan of the opera. He had a great life with only one regret.
The obituary did not explain that one regret. It also did not include his age or date of birth. Based
on other sources, I suspect he was born on October 6, 1935, the son of Joseph and Marie Pollock.
His father was an oil refinery rigger.
He was active with several clubs in Indiana. In 1971 he was publisher of The Highlander,
newsletter for the Highland Indiana Stamp and Coin Club. He wrote an article on BEP souvenir
cards published in Coin World in 1977.
Pollock took over writing the column after the June 25, 1975, death of another collector, Fay C.
Smith. Among Smith's accomplishments was service on the 1975 United States Assay
Commission. Syndicated columnist Gary L. Palmer continued to fill the column into January of
1976. Some Palmer columns were also published by The Times after 1978.
Pollock's column ran weekly in The Times from February 1, 1976 through March 5, 1978. He
reported on activities of clubs in the area included activities of the Hammond Coin Club and the
Calumet Numismatic Club. He reported on the meetings and promoted upcoming local shows
around the region. He also gave information on the Chicago International Coin Fair and the
Central States Numismatic Society convention. After the shows, he gave credit to some of the
Some columns promoted products like commemorative medals produced by private mints. This
information would have been available in the national coin publications. He reported on things
that were topical at the time like the G.S.A. sale of silver dollars and President Carter
discontinuing the Assay Commission in 1977. In some columns he answered questions from
In one column he admits that friends send him clippings from various publications that have
interesting topics. With these clippings and a subscription to Coin World, he would have had all
the information he needed for his columns. His articles were appropriate for people who were not
already collectors and did not probe the depths of numismatic topics.
His interest in the Civil War was apparent with a 1976 article on the Fourth Battery, Light
Artillery of the Indiana Volunteers and the 114 th Illinois Volunteer Infantry, Company C, two
groups of Civil War reenactors.
Occasionally he suggested reference books. He had good things to say about the 1977 and 1978
editions of the World Almanac.
He joined the Numismatic Literary Guild in 1978. Their newsletter stated that The Times had a
readership of more than 75,000. He specialized in silver dollars and fractional currency.
Pollock and his column provided a service to the local numismatic community. He never
achieved prominence on a national level. Perhaps, like others, he has been overlooked.
I did not find any record of publication in the last forty years of his life.
How many other examples are there of coin collecting columns that ran in only one local paper?
Pollack's April 24, 1977 article mentions
"The model used for the Mercury Dime and [Walking Liberty} half dollar was Elsie Stevens, who was renting Weinman's house."
The article also repeats a story from Numismatic Scrapbook by Ted Schwartz about a San Francisco Mint night watchman named Charles Butler who was caught in 1917 striking his own Liberty Walking Half Dollars.
To read the complete April 24, 1977 article, see:
Elsie Stevens Posed For Coins
Wayne Homren, Editor
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