The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 26, Number 36, September 3, 2023, Article 16


E-Sylum Feature Writer and American Numismatic Biographies author Pete Smith submitted this article on Indiana coin columnist Joe T. Pollack. Thanks! -Editor

  Elsie Stevens Posed For Coins

  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 obituary:

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 exhibit winners.

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 readers.

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. -Editor

To read the complete April 24, 1977 article, see:
Elsie Stevens Posed For Coins (

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Wayne Homren, Editor

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