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David Akers dies at 70

 

David W. Akers of Stuart, Fla, a coin collector turned dealer who helped assemble and eventually sell at auction some of the nation’s greatest numismatic holdings, died July 11 at age 70.

Winner of the American Numismatic Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award at last year’s World’s Fair of Money in Chicago, Mr. Akers became a coin dealer in 1971 and quickly made a professional name for himself first working for Paramount International Coin Corp., then of Englewood, Ohio, and later with his own firm, David W. Akers, Inc.

In 1988-1990 he took over the Paramount slot in the annual four-firm national “Apostrophe Auction” that had started in 1979. Working with Superior, RARCOA and Stack’s, he presented “wow factor” coins from Canada and the United States that were showcased in his 500-lot sale portion of the 2,000-lot sale.

But Mr. Akers’ crowning achievement as an auctioneer was when he sold the collection of John Jay Pittman, past president of the American and Canadian Numismatic Associations, and honorary president of the Sociedad Numismatica de Mexico.

Sold over a three-year period, 1997-1999, the Pittman holdings garnered over $30 million and Akers was noted for accurate and concise cataloging.

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Unlike some colleagues of an earlier era who were showmen, Mr. Akers was a numismatist who first analyzed auction records for American gold coins in a series of six volumes published 1975-1982, along with a major work on gold pattern coinage. He also wrote, A handbook of 20th-century United States gold coins, 1907-1933,” published by Bowers & Merena in 1978 and reissued and revised by Zyrus in 2008.

Mr. Akers was a frequent attendee at major auction sales around the country when extraordinarily rare coins were involved.

In 1988, when the second Lord St. Oswald 1794 silver dollar was auctioned by Bowers & Merena, Q. David Bowers said that which of the two coins was better (at MS-63) remains a toss-up. (The Jimmy Hayes collection had the other piece.)

Mr. Akers attended that sale and spoke with me prior to the auction. He graded the coin MS-63+ and said that he had come to the sale expecting to buy it. It opened at $75,000 and moved rapidly in $5,000 increments to $80,000, $85,000, then $90,000. Kevin Lipton jumped in with a bid of $100,000, and it was off to the races. When the smoke cleared minutes later, Akers had the bid at $200,000 (a $220,000 total price).

In his writings, Mr. Akers helped chronicle the story of the 1933 $20 gold pieces.

But super-rarities aside, he also was a discerning buyer of coins of lesser value. At the 1978 Bareford sale by Stack’s, for example, he bought an 1859 $3 gold for “$14,000 in a spirited contest.”

In the early 1980s, when I was a consultant with the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations as well as one of their international lawyers, I met with Mr. Akers in the Bahamas (where Paramount International had relocated for foreign proof coin sales to American collectors) and got a real education.

He disclosed that he had actually sketched out and designed many of the new foreign proof issues for a number of countries that Paramount then represented, showing the depth of his numismatic knowledge and also his sense of history. But it was not something that he wanted to be well-known in part because these were modern issues and he viewed them differently than classical coins.

Mr. Akers was Professional Numismatists Guild member No. 279, joining in 1977. He had an undergraduate degree in mathematics and served in Vietnam as an artillery officer. His survivors include his wife, Sharron J. Akers, who worked with him. In 2011, he was in the second class inducted into the PCGS CoinFacts™ Coin Dealer Hall of Fame.

He is one of only two dealers to ever receive all three of the PNG’s three top honors: the Robert Friedberg Literary award, the Abe Kosoff Founders Award, and the PNG Lifetime Achievement award.

Mr. Akers started collecting coins in 1949 when he was 8 years old. A Notre Dame graduate, he obtained a master’s degree in mathematics from Oregon State College.

A memorial service was to be held at 3 p.m. July 25 at the First Methodist Church in Stuart, Fla.

In lieu of flowers memorial contributions in the name of David W. Akers can be made to the Hibiscus Children’s Foundation, 2400 NE Dixie Hwy. Jensen Beach, FL 34957.

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