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Eric Newman dies at 106


Evelyn and Eric Newman

Numismatic collector and scholar Eric P. Newman died Nov. 15 at the age of 106.

The St. Louis native is perhaps best known for his book, The Fantastic 1804 Dollar, that he wrote with Kenneth E. Bressett.

It was published in 1962 and accurately told the story of a coin that is nicknamed the “King of American Coins,” which had been shrouded in mystery for over 100 years.

But while this might have gained him the most popular attention, he had been writing since 1941 on numerous topics.

In 1967, Mr. Newman published the book, “The Early Paper Money of America.”

He wrote in the fifth edition, “My friend Harley Freeman (1896-1976), developed a loose-leaf research manuscript, which has been steadily used and amplified by me ever since he originally encouraged me to carry out his wish to have a work of this nature completed.

“My mentor, Burdette G. Johnson (1885-1947), guided me in the study and interpretation of all aspects of numismatic objects using intense scrutiny.”

Johnson had been a professional coin dealer in St. Louis that Newman first encountered when he was a child.

The Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University was his ultimate contribution to scholarship. Begun in 2015, it is digitizing numismatic works to make them accessible online to all.

Earlier, he had founded the Eric P. Newman Education Society.

Heritage has conducted nine sales of material from his collection. The most recent was Nov. 1-3.

The NNP biography notes that Mr. Newman was born in St. Louis in 1911. His start in collecting came when he was a child. His “maternal grandfather Adolph Pfeiffer gave him an Indian Head cent dated 1859. Newman put the coin in a desk and thought little of it until he chanced upon another Indian cent. Newman recalled he had seen something like that before, and a collector was born.”

He earned a bachelor of science degree from MIT in 1932 and a law degree in 1935 from Washington University in St. Louis.

His connection to organized numismatics also began early. When the Central States Numismatic Society was founded in 1939, he became secretary-treasurer.

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News Express. >> Subscribe today

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