Skip to main content

Philadelphia numismatist dies

Longtime Philadelphia coin dealer Harry J. Forman died March 6 at the age of 85.
  • Author:
  • Publish date:

Longtime Philadelphia coin dealer Harry J. Forman died March 6 at the age of 85.

He became a professional numismatist in 1955 and his first American Numismatic Association convention was Chicago in 1956.

His partner Ruth Bauer in the firm of Forman and Bauer, Inc., says he was a fruit vendor before his numismatic career started.

?He was very instrumental in waking up the coin business at the time,? Bauer told Numismatic News.

Mr. Forman?s business grew with the hobby and it prospered with his discovery of the small-date cents in 1960, in the subsequent roll and bag boom of the early 1960s, as well as with the hobby?s interest in the release of large numbers of silver dollars from the U.S. Treasury.

?He got to be a well-known coin dealer right away,? Bauer remembers. She went to work with him in 1957. She remembered that others would look to see what he was doing.

?Whatever Harry did, they followed,? Bauer said.

As he promoted his mail-order business ? he did not have a shop ? he also promoted the hobby. He wrote the book, ?How You Can Make Big Profits Investing in Coins.? It was published in 1972, by coincidence the year of the discovery of the 1972 doubled-die cent from Philadelphia.

These kinds of investment books grew in popularity thereafter. He also wrote a sequel in 1974, ?You Can Keep on Making Big Profits Investing in Coins.?

It was also in 1972 during the silver bar boom that he started the Madison Mint. It produced silver art bars for collectors.

Not long afterwards, Bauer became Forman?s partner, forming Forman & Bauer, Inc., which is still actively in business.

In 2000 Forman was honored by the American Numismatic Association with its Numismatist of the Year Award, given to him in his home city of Philadelphia during the summer convention.

In bestowing the award, ANA noted that, ?Forman has been instrumental in the success and sustained growth of the ANA and its collections. He was the Association?s first ?grand patron,? generously donating $25,000 for the expansion of ANA?s Colorado Springs headquarters in 1982.?

A year later the ANA gave him its top award, the Farran Zerbe.
Forman was born Oct. 6, 1922, in Philadelphia and graduated South Philadelphia High School.

Forman was a member of the Professional Numismatists Guild, the American Numismatic Society and other numismatic organizations.
Contributions in his memory may be made to the ANA in Forman?s memory, 818 N. Cascade Ave., Colorado Springs CO 80903, or to a charity of the donor?s choice.