My favorite professor while working on my master’s degree was Dr. Watson Parker, who wrote a definitive work on Deadwood, S.D., and who taught his students not only history but also techniques of writing and research. One of his favorite sayings was that, in writing an article or a book, “the reader will go where you want them to, but you have to take them there.”
I like to think that that is what Tom LaMarre has done for Coins magazine readers for the past 32 years. He has taken them on a history-laced journey through the wide range of U.S. coins and their colorful back stories.
As a regular feature and column contributor, he constantly came up with something new and interesting. There was always a tidbit or two gleaned from a newspaper article that likely hadn’t appeared in print in the hobby press until Tom brought it to light. It was obvious Tom was passionate about what he wrote and where he wanted to take the reader.
Tom’s first article for Coins was for the August 1985 issue of the magazine. Arlyn Sieber was the editor at the time.
In “James Earle Fraser’s Journey Through Life,” Tom explored how Fraser, known to collectors for his Buffalo nickel design, was awarded a prestigious and seldom presented gold medal in 1951 for a lifetime of achievement in sculpture. This was two years before Fraser’s death.
Tom listed Fraser’s various sculptural and medallic contributions. Fraser died on Oct. 11, 1953 and was buried in Willowbrook Cemetery in Westport, Conn. “For another cemetery, the sculptor had created a statue titled ‘Journey Through Life,’” Tom wrote. “There is no question that Fraser’s own journey was a most productive one.”
Tom’s tenure within the pages in this magazine would also be a fruitful and productive one for its readers.
The year after his debut here, Tom added more insightful contributions as he became a regular contributor. These included “Saint-Gaudens: behind the stern face” (June 1986); “He gave his life to his art” [Bela Lyon Pratt] (August 1986); “Ben Franklin Wanted the Wright stuff” [Joseph Wright, designer of 1793-1796 Liberty Cap cent] (September 1986); “Longacre and his early critics” (October 1986); and “Reich’s coming and going a mystery” (November 1986).
I took over as editor with the January 1995 issue. He wrote about some of the known and lesser known female coinage designers for that issue, in a piece titled “Numismatics’ Designing Women,” and used the two-cent piece as his column topic. He has had insightful articles and columns in each issue since.
I greatly appreciate all of Tom’s efforts at making Coins magazine a first stop for many looking to learn about the hobby and an attraction for experienced collectors as well.
I’m sad to say, therefore, that Tom has decided to end his feature and column submissions. Thirty-plus years is a long time to contribute to a publication, and I’m certain his writings will be missed.
This article was originally printed in Coins Magazine. >> Subscribe today.
More Collecting Resources
• Keep up to date on prices for Canada, United States and Mexico coinage with the 2018 North American Coins & Prices guide.
• The Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1901-2000 is your guide to images, prices and information on coinage of the 1900s.