Sunday, December 30, 2018

JR Newsletter: 30 December 2018 (426)

Sad news in the numismatic community is that John McCloskey passed away on December 15, 2018.  To say that John McCloskey was important to both the John Reich Collectors Society AND the Liberty Seated Collectors Club would be a gross understatement.  This week’s JR Newsletter will share some of the thoughts of those who knew John McCloskey. Readers are welcome to share additional remembrances for future issues of this newsletter.

From Brad Karoleff:

The latest issue of the JRJ should be in your hands by now.  Anyone who has not received their journal by the end of the week should contact me at bkaroleff(at) to obtain a replacement issue.  

The dues renewal notice is also included in the envelope along with the ballot for the Jules Reiver Literary Award.  Please send David a check to continue your membership and vote for your favorite article(s) from the last year.

Some thoughts on John McCloskey.

I don't remember just when I first met John McCloskey as it seems he was always around.  We lived within 50 miles of each other my entire adult life.  I often saw him at the local shows we both attended.  At first, I did not realize his standing in the collecting community as John would never advertise his expertise.  I have never met another genius as unassuming as John.  

We all know his profession as a member of the University of Dayton as a professor and eventually head of the math department.  This is evidence of his expertise as well as his ability for planning and administration.  Two qualities quite evident in his 40-year position as editor of The Gobrecht Journal where he put out the quarterly journal like clockwork.  

I remember years ago talking to Russ Logan about the dime and half dime books that he worked on with John.  He mentioned that anytime a deadline was set with the co-authors he need not worry about John's submission being on time.  Other dime book authors were not as punctual in getting their work done!

John was a perfectionist which precluded him from making headway in finishing his book on the gold coin die marriages before the disease that took John from us manifested itself.  Norma has often told me that she was most disappointed that John "never had the opportunity to sit at his desk and finish his book and write articles for publication."  We have all been deprived of the knowledge that John was never able to convey to the hobby.

John was instrumental in the formation of JRCS but did not take as active a role in the management of the society due to his involvement with LSCC.  He was always available for consultation and help whenever needed.  I remember asking him his opinion on articles submitted for publication.  John was always helpful and offered great advice and insight into producing a quality journal for publication.  He always stressed encouraging authors to contribute things for publication but to also make sure the information contained in the submission was truthful or represented as the author's opinion.  He and Russ were very instrumental in my development as the editor of the JRJ.  

Being so close to John allowed me to visit every now and then for a chat.  I wish I would have taken John and Norma up on their hospitality more often.  Getting to talk to them away from the hustle and bustle of the bourse floor was wonderful.  As everyone knows, John was recognized as an expert in many different aspects of numismatics.  This did not allow him much free time at coin shows for casual conversation.  Collectors and researchers were often asking him questions or advice on coins and research.  He was especially engaged at the LSCC meetings.  Norma would often sit back and just observe John "holding court" at the meetings.  This often gave me the opportunity to visit with her and catch up on what was happening in their lives.

John was an avid hiker and would often take time before or after major conventions to climb some of the mountains in the area of the convention.  He often told me about the beauty of nature he observed during these climbs.  Norma would accompany John on some of the easier climbs but John would tackle the more difficult ascents himself.  

John was also an avid golfer having obtained seven(!) holes in one.  I would often chastise him for taking so many and leaving me none.  I always wanted to play a round or two with John and we had talked about it leaving it for his retirement.  Alas, John was never able to really enjoy the retirement time he had earned.  

I always look at John as the Lou Gehrig of numismatics.  He was the "iron horse" of the LSCC serving his beloved club for over 40 years as a founder, officer and editor of its journal.  He helped form the JRCS and was a co-author of both the dime and half dime books and author of more articles than I can count.  He was a brilliant man that was always available for consultation and advice.  I would go as far as to say that he was the conscience of numismatics, at least as far as the LSCC and JRCS is concerned.  

We will never know how much more John would have been able to contribute to our beloved hobby.  We can only learn from his example and continue his work expanding on the base he has created for us.  That would be the best legacy we could leave for John, and one he would surely appreciate.

Brad Karoleff

David Perkins wrote:

I first met John McCloskey (in person) at the 1985 Central States Numismatic Society (CSNS) show in Minneapolis in 1985.  This was my first larger coin show, having “gotten back” into collecting in 1983.  I was a member of the Liberty Seated Collectors Club (LSCC) which John McCloskey had co-founded along with Kamal Awash.  John was the long time President and Editor of the club’s Gobrecht Journal.  By long time I mean around four decades!  John was also a founding member of the John Reich Collectors Society (JRCS) and a long-time Vice President of JRCS.  The first issue of the John Reich Journal was not published until January 1986 (Volume 1 / Issue 1), thus I first knew John through membership in the LSCC.  

I wrote a letter to John prior to the 1985 CSNS Convention offering to pick him up at the airport and drop him off at his hotel if he would come to my house and look at my collection and give me feedback.  I’d been collecting for two years or so and wanted feedback on the coins I’d purchased so far for my collection.  Much to my surprise and pleasure John agreed to do this.  

I picked John up and we drove to my house.  I had my Seated Dollar collection home from the bank, and one early dollar (1800 B-13, BB-193), mostly consisting of XF-AU coins.  At one point, John asked me if I used a glass when looking at my coins.  I remember saying that I did not, should I?  He said yes, but he added that he hadn’t noted any mistakes on the coins he had seen so far.  I guess that I had “young eyes” at the time with very good eyesight up close.  Or was lucky.  At the end, John asked me which coin did I think was his favorite.  It turned out it was an 1864 Dollar in VG-Fine, a well circulated Civil War Date.  

At the show, John took me around and introduced me to a number of collectors.  I remembering John introducing me among others to Mr. 1873, Harry X Boosel  and to Russell Logan, an author and later founder of JRCS.   I also was in attendance and talked with John at the November 1-2, 1986 Coinage of the Americas Conference titled, America’s Silver Coinage 1794-1891.  This conference was held at The American Numismatic Society (ANS), New York.  Russ Logan was in attendance also, handing out “sample copies” of Volume 1 / Issue 1 of the John Reich Journal.  I joined JRCS on the spot!  David Davis, Allen Lovejoy, and Jules Reiver were also there.  This was quite the event for me, having just gotten back into the hobby a few years earlier.  

Over the years I saw and talked with John at the major shows.  I remember that the 1801 Draped Bust Dime was a favorite of John’s.  He told me that he thought it was undervalued.  I’m guessing  that John has more than one of these in his collection!  Time will tell.  The photo of the 1801 Dime that serves as this week's "headline coin" is Courtesy of Heritage Auctions.  

John was a co-author of Early United States Dimes 1796 – 1837 (1984, John Reich Collectors Society) with David J. Davis, Russell J. Logan, Allen F. Lovejoy, and William L. Subjack.  John was also a co-author of Federal Half Dimes 1792-1837 (1998, John Reich Collectors Society) with Russel J. Logan.  This are widely used references for those collecting the early half dimes 1792-1837 and dimes 1796-1837.  

Below is a classic quote from the JRCS History found on the JRCS Website, discussing John’s role in both JRCS and the Dime Book:   

Although the census information and comradeship continued, the embryonic JRCS took a different direction after the sale of Stew’s collection as Dave, John McCloskey and Russ Logan agreed to author the book on the early dimes. The Dime Book supplied the catalyst for structuring JRCS on a more formal basis. On March 20, 1983, all five authors (now including Bill Subjack and Allen Lovejoy) met in Cleveland, Ohio to finalize the details for the Dime Book and lay the groundwork for organizing the John Reich Collectors Society.

Here is a direct link to the JRCS History:

John wrote untold articles on early silver and gold for the John Reich Journal and for the Gobrecht Journal.  He was inducted into the JRCS Hall of Fame in 2012.  

JRCS, LSCC, and the hobby will miss John.  

W. David Perkins
Centennial, CO



From Jim Matthews:

My thoughts on John.

John was one of foundation members of the JRCS. Early on his driving force helped become the glue to mount the project of writing the original "Early United States Dimes -- 1796-1837."  When I first came along to one of their informal meetings in 1979 at the ANA in St. Louis, the group had yet to meet Allen Lovejoy. Jules Reiver served as ambassador to help along the book writing project. John's wife Norma was his constant companion for several decades. I remember telling the authors how much I wanted to read their book on dime varieties as there simply wasn't anything available that accurately described the die varieties available. Each of the authors avidly collected dimes from 1809 to 1837 and had developed their own methods for identification of the particular variety. Somehow all this information needed to be organized and laid out in a usable fashion for their book. Bill Subjack and Allen Lovejoy focused on the Draped Bust dimes and employed the same identification criteria. Die state information was included. All the 1000s of decisions had to be discussed, reviewed and accepted or rejected for inclusion. Writing a book is a far bigger challenge than most people realize, but creating one with five different authors and having it all make sense is a herculean task. John McCloskey helped with the organizational skills and laying out the format with the authors. In later years authors John McCloskey and Russ Logan again used their talents to write "Early Half Dimes 1792 - 1837" using the same format as employed in their Dime book of the prior decade. 

What is amazing to me is that John accomplished the writing of these books, and several others--while employed as a Mathematics professor at the University of Dayton Ohio, much of the time as the Department Head, raising a family, and spending countless hours working for both the JRCS as Vice President but also our sister club the Liberty Seated Collectors Club where John was President and primary editor for their journal. John was truly a tireless volunteer who wrote countless articles and conducted research on many series. His work on the Classic Head gold coins has not been widely published but certainly will be in the coming years, along with his study of the branch mint gold coins of various denominations. While a great many numismatists collect coins, John truly studied, and published articles about, the coins he loved and this decades-long act of giving will stand tall for many decades to come as future numismatists discover his genius through his writings. We all will miss him greatly.

Jim Matthews


From the editor:

Also, if you visit Gerry Fortin’s Daily Blog and scroll to the blog of December 25, you will see additional information about John’s life and contributions to numismatics.  A link to Gerry’s Blog is here: