The American Numismatic Association (ANA) will recognize Q. David Bowers and the Stack family at the Chicago World’s Fair of Money® (August 16-20) for their trailblazing successes in the numismatic community with its Philanthropy Award. This award publicly honors and recognizes substantial contributions donated to the Association in support of its strategic mission that helps to further expand, enhance, and sustain the hobby.
Q. David Bowers is widely recognized as one of the most scholarly and prolific numismatic writers of the past half century. His maternal grandfather sparked his interest in coins when he gave him an 1893 Columbian half dollar. A local tax collector later showed a young Bowers a 1909-S VDB Lincoln cent, which was worth $10, a large sum at the time.
During the 1950s – when he was a teenager – Bowers became a dealer and placed advertisements in a local paper. His business grew, and he continued to work as a dealer while attending Pennsylvania State University, graduating with honors in 1960.
Since then, he has taken an active role as a cataloger and professional numismatist, cofounding the auction house Bowers & Ruddy (later, Bowers & Merena). The author of hundreds of auction catalogs and articles, he has written more than 40 books on a wide variety of topics, receiving more “Book of the Year Awards” and “Best Columnist” honors from the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG) than any other writer. In 1989 he received the NLG’s highest honor, the Clemy Award.
Bowers has been a loyal supporter of the ANA for many years. His most valuable work on behalf of the ANA is the definitive, 1,744-page American Numismatic Association Centennial History, which involved hundreds of hours of research. Bowers has assisted the Association financially, professionally, and culturally. Through the years, he has shared his invaluable experience as a Summer Seminar instructor, spoken at ANA conventions, participated in educational forums, and written a monthly column and many feature articles for The Numismatist.
Elected to the ANA’s Board of Governors in 1979, Bowers served for six years, including a term as president from 1983 to 1985. He also served as president of the Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG).
Bowers has received many accolades for the countless contributions he has made to the hobby during his nearly 70 years in numismatics. His efforts to promote a greater understanding of our nation’s coinage and its place in American history, society, and culture have earned him many ANA awards. He became a Century Club member in 1980 and a Medal of Merit winner in 1987. In 1991 he was presented with the Association’s highest honor, the Farran Zerbe Memorial Award for Distinguished Service (now named the Chester L. Krause Memorial Distinguished Service Award). Three years later, he was inducted into the Numismatic Hall of Fame.
Bowers became the first recipient of the Numismatist of the Year award in 1995, and was honored with a Presidential Award in 1997, an Exemplary Service Award in 2003, and a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. He has also lectured at Harvard University and appeared on The Today Show and other network and cable-television programs. He has cataloged many of the finest collections ever assembled, including the Eliasberg Collection, the Norweb Collection, the Garrett Collection, and the Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection.
In his final “Coins & Collectors” column published in the December 2021 issue of The Numismatist, Bowers writes that it has given him “great joy to be at the heart of the hobby, to have served many clubs and professional organizations, and to have written countless books and columns that spread the love for this great pursuit.”
At 83 years old, Bowers is enjoying a more relaxed schedule with fewer deadlines. But the lifelong collector says he “will never be finished with numismatics.”
The Stack family has not only managed the sale of some of the most magnificent numismatic pieces known, but they have also generously contributed to the ANA. Brothers Joseph B. and Morton Stack established Stack’s in New York City in 1933 and conducted its first public sale two years later. Their firm quickly grew to become one of the most important numismatic dealerships in America.
The Stacks specialized in everything numismatic – coins, tokens, medals, and paper money – and their services were in high demand. Many sought their expertise, including universities, royalty, government institutions, collectors, and other dealers. Josiah K. Lilly, the well-known pharmaceutical executive, commissioned Stack’s to build his collection. Now in the Smithsonian Institution, it is the National Numismatic Collection’s greatest donation to date.
Eventually, Joseph and Morton passed ownership of the company to their sons, Norman, Harvey, and Benjamin. Harvey became the company’s main spokesman and welcomed visitors to its New York City gallery and participated in hobby activities. He contributed many of his recollections to Stack’s website, and his musings (entitled “Harvey Stack Remembers”) contain a wealth of information about the company.
Harvey worked full-time for Stack’s for 62 years, retiring in 2009 as chief manager of business affairs. During that time, it is said that he conducted more auction sales than anyone in the numismatic industry. He
perhaps is best remembered for his testimony before Congress in 1995, in which he appeared before the U.S. House Banking Committee to talk about the loss of public interest in the U.S. Mint’s modern commemorative programs. At the meeting, he suggested the issuance of five quarter designs each year. His idea inspired the 50 State Quarters® program, which proved popular and revitalized the hobby for a new generation of collectors, in addition to bringing hundreds of millions of dollars of profit to the U.S. Treasury.
Harvey’s son Lawrence (“Larry”) joined the firm in 1973 and was responsible for bringing to the company many significant holdings, including the John J. Ford Collection. Larry became internationally known for his expertise and all-around knowledge.
The Stack family was instrumental in building some of the greatest assemblages of their time, and they cultivated relationships with esteemed collectors to grow the hobby nationwide. Harvey also fought for clearer import regulations on coins purchased overseas and worked with the ANA and other professionals to develop a standardized grading system for coins.
In 2011 Stack’s merged with Bowers & Merena to form Stack’s Bowers Galleries, one of the top numismatic auction firms in the country. The company continues the Stack family’s legacy of presenting important numismatic cabinets and realizing record-breaking prices.
Harvey Stack was a longtime ANA supporter, and his firm has served as the official auctioneer at numerous Association conventions. He remained involved in the business until his death on January 3, 2022, sharing the company’s history, mentoring staff members, and maintaining his relationships within the hobby.
The Stack family received the Medal of Merit in 1982 and Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010. Harvey was named the 1997 Numismatist of the Year. In 1990-91 he served as president of the PNG, which gave him its Lifetime Achievement Award.