Albert Einstein expert Harry Flower has been named the 10th inductee into the Chicago Coin Club’s Hall of Fame.
Flower (Oct. 16, 1912 - May 24, 2000) was born in Poland and immigrated with his family to Lexington, Miss., in 1914. They moved to Chicago when he was a teenager. He enrolled at the University of Illinois at Champaign in 1930, but his education was interrupted by the Depression and he did not complete his degree in Pharmacy (at the Chicago campus, as required then) until 1937. After two years’ post-graduate experience, he became a registered pharmacist, though he continued to live with his parents until his marriage in 1944. Around 1947-1948 he opened his own business, Flower Drugs, an old-time pharmacy with custom pills and cough syrup, operating it for about a quarter-century.
Early in the 1950s, Glenn B. Smedley (Hall of Fame No. 8) got Flower started as a collector. He applied for American Numismatic Association membership in November 1954, listing his specialty as U.S. paper money. Flower soon became active in his local Oak Park Coin Club, and on Sept. 10, 1958, joined the Chicago Coin Club as member No. 695. In 1961, he was elected a governor and received the Best in Show Exhibit Award at the Chicago Coin Club Fall Festival. The following year, he was appointed exhibits chairman for this short-lived annual show. He presented many programs to the club on a wide variety of subjects over the years. A frequent exhibitor at meetings, he received a First Place Cabeen Exhibit Award in 1990 and collected many second places and honorable mentions.
Flowers’ numismatic interests covered the entire field of numismatics: primitive money, ancient coins, paper money, world coins, tokens, and medals, including altered coins and paper money, cut and counterstamped coins and gold coins. He eventually specialized in Judaica in numismatics, particularly tributes to Albert Einstein.
Flower joined the American Israel Numismatic Association soon after it was formed in 1967, serving as regional vice president (1973-1980) and regional director (1980-1988). In 1984, AINA published his definitive 32-page catalog, Tokens & Medals, issued by Israel Numismatic Societies. He was also active in the Israel Numismatic Society of Illinois, serving as president (1969-1972) and was elected president of two other Chicago-area coin clubs at various times.
He is best known, however, as the author of “Numismatic Tributes to Albert Einstein,” published in the January and February 1987 issues of The Numismatist. It received a third-place Heath Literary Award and was reprinted in November 1987. He is also remembered for forming the finest collection of Albert Einstein medals, tokens, coins, and paper money.
Flower won first place awards in his category for exhibits at three AINA conventions in the 1970s and a second-place exhibit award at the 1984 ANA convention. In 1992 he was voted a Numismatic Ambassador.
Affectionately known to some as “Mr. Einstein” because of his laser focus on Einstein tributes, he is fondly remembered by Chicago Coin Club members for his generosity and willingness to advance numismatic knowledge. According to the club, “he was always willing to help a fellow collector.”
See some of the past inductees here: