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David C. Harper: A Champion for Collectors

David C. Harper joined the editorial staff of Numismatic News in 1978 and served faithfully until his retirement in February 2019. In his more than 40 years with the publication, he became a familiar face – and voice – to not only the readership, but also in the wider coin collecting hobby. As he details in the following re-print of the final installment of his blog, The Buzz, he was drawn to the hobby by the voices of everyday collectors. His commitment to fair reporting on news that mattered to collectors and serving up a platform that was truly a weekly conversation with readers shaped Numismatic News into the accessible, collector-focused magazine for which it is so well-known.

Harper copy

I have retired. After nearly 41 years working at the Numismatic News office, my chair is now vacant.

As I head for the door, I want to say thank you to all readers. I have never forgotten who the average reader is, what his or her interests are, and what news is most likely to help them along their collecting path.

At heart, this is who I have always been. When I first read a copy of Numismatic News 50 years ago, it was because I had picked it up at a coin show. It was the letters to the editor in it that topped my list of favorite things about the paper. I wanted to read more. I immediately sent my money to the firm to get these weekly issues started.

You might say I subscribed because of the letters. The writers seemed like my kind of people. Their questions were my questions. Their opinions were my opinions. They were the kind of people I wanted to hang around with.

I had no idea what I was getting into. Who could?

When I needed a job in 1978, I applied to Numismatic News. Clifford Mishler interviewed me and then phoned me with a job offer. I said yes. Away I went.

I want to thank Cliff for the great opportunity he gave me. Numismatic News founder Chet Krause is no longer alive, but I owe him a great deal as well. Chet and Cliff were the dynamic duo of the firm that was built on the foundation of this paper.

David Harper, fourth from left, joins fellow Krause Publications staff in singing “O Lutefisk,” a holiday tradition at the Iola, Wis., office. They share a smile with Chet Krause, seated.

David Harper, fourth from left, joins fellow Krause Publications staff in singing “O Lutefisk,” a holiday tradition at the Iola, Wis., office. They share a smile with Chet Krause, seated.

Bank Note Reporter, Coins magazine, and World Coin News are part of this numismatic family. I had roles in all of them. My first byline appeared in the pages of the June 1971 Coins magazine.

The numismatic catalog division that created the Standard Catalog of World Coins also birthed North American Coins and Prices and U.S. Coin Digest. I had a role in the creation of the latter two titles, though I really don’t consider myself to be a book author.

Always I was part of a numismatic team. It was led for many years by Chet and Cliff. Others followed. We carried on.

Now it is someone else’s turn to carry on. It will be up to them to hold high the lamp of numismatic knowledge. I borrow this symbol from the American Numismatic Association, of which I am a life member and enthusiastic supporter.

We collectors are all in this together. We are bonded simultaneously to the past, present and future. What we do with the present will determine what kind of hobby we leave for the next generation of collectors.

Now I will revert to the status I held 50 years ago: loyal Numismatic News reader. I expect my favorite part of the paper will be letters to the editor written by readers. Taken together, they are the only true guide to our future. I have faith in them. Because I do, I am optimistic about the future. They will make it bright.