RISSMILLER, HARVEY

Copyright © 2011-2017 John N. Lupia III
Harvey Rissmiller (1882-1963), was born at Leesport, Berks County, Pennsylvania, on July 26, 1882, son of Henry Rissmiller (1837-1905), and Mary Wanshop (later remarried Harrison Troutman) (1851-1926).

            Rissmiller, ANA Member No. 5863, had three lifelong careers which he seems to have held sometimes simultaneously : a men's barber, commercial printer, and coin and stamp dealer. He spent his last forty-five years living at 420 North 12th Street, Reading, Pennsylvania, where he advertised as a stamp and coin dealer
            Reading, Pennsylvania had been the home of early coin collectors and dealers like J. Lawrence Getz, grandson of Peter Getz,  Hon. Henry Augustus Muhlenberg famed for his ancient coin collection, William K. Miller active in the 1870's and 1880's, and both C. A. V. Snyder and F. M. Yeager whose photographs were published in Mason’s Photographic Gallery of the Coin Collectors of the United States. Contemporary with Rissmiller was coin collector and ANA Member No. 1039 John Hepler. By 1933 the Admiral Bird Stamp and Coin Club was formed and by 1938 the Reading Coin Club was established and Rissmiller became their president.
            In the field of numismatics he was a generalist dealing in ancient, foreign and U. S. coins, continental currency, fractional currency, broken bank notes, and all sorts of U. S. and foreign paper money. He published a Coin Guide during the 1920's, and various numbered and unnumbered circulars for stamps and coins. He seems to have dealt large quantities of U. S. copper and early silver coins.

Early Life :

            On April 2, 1903 he married Katie Alice Wayandt (1883-1916). They had four children : Helen May (1903-1993), Ruth Naomi (1905-1997), Dorothy Marie (1908-1993), and John Henry (1915-1992).

            In the U. S. Census of 1910 he is reported to have owned his own barber shop.

            In December 1916 his wife Katie died at their home 1122 Mulberry Street, Reading, Pennsylvania.
            His 1918 Draft Card lists him working as a self-employed printer and owner of Narrow Fabric Co., living at 420 North 12th Street, Reading, Pennsylvania. He is described as medium height, slender build, with brown hair and dark brown eyes. At this time he may have been a stamp and coin collector but no evidence of his being a dealer in either fields of the hobby.

Numismatic Career :

            He began to sell stamps and coins as a sideline during the 1920's advertising in popular magazines for young kids and adults like Boy's Life and Popular Mechanics. Looking at his inventory many pieces could easily have been sorted out from pocket change or what passed over the counter at his print shop or barber shop.
            In the 1926 City Directory of Reading he is listed as a printer.

Fig. 1. Rissmiller advertisement selling stamps and coins in Boy's Life, November 1927. He ran a similar ad a few years later in Popular Mechanics.

Fig. 2. Rissmiller stationery in the 1920's. Postmarked Reading, Pennsylvania, January 5, 1929, 3 PM. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library.


Fig. 3. Rissmiller stamp circular advertisement. Top : Front of circular (glossy red, but the HP Photosmart 7250 is neither reliable nor so smart). Bottom : Reverse of circular. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library.

Fig. 4. Rissmiller coin and paper money circular advertisement. Top : Front of circular. (Circular is on brown paper, but the HP Photosmart 7250 is neither reliable nor so smart). Bottom : Reverse of circular. Note some prices seem absurdly low today. Rissmiller was selling silver three cent pieces at 5 cent apiece at the time when silver value was 67 cents per ounce. It takes 38 silver three cent pieces to make an ounce and Rissmiller sold them at $1.90, profiting $1.23. Photo Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library.

            In 1930, he married Carrie B. Irvin.
            In October 1935 he exhibited his stamp collection at the Berks County Historical Society.

Fig. 5. Rissmiller, not Dissmiller was elected president of the Admiral Byrd Stamp and Coin Club, organized 1933. Reading Times, Friday, December 24, 1937, page 13.

Fig. 6. Rissmiller talks about postage stamps. Reading Times, Wednesday, December 14, 1938, page 13
            From 1937-1939, he was president of the Admiral Byrd Stamp and Coin Club, Reading, Pennsylvania. That year the Club exhibited at the Berks County Historical Society. He won second prize at the 1939 exhibition.
            In 1938, he was a member of the Reading Stamp Collector's Club.
            In the 1941 City Directory of Reading, Pennsylvania he is listed as the owner of a Barber Shop.
            In 1951, he was President of the Reading Coin Club (established 1938).

Fig. 7. Rissmiller advertisement selling Indian Head Cents in the Numismatic Scrapbook
Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library.
            Throughout the 1950's he maintained his barber shop business well into his 70's.
            He died of pneumonia at the age of 81 at Community General Hospital on September 16, 1963, and is buried at the Charles Evans Cemetery, Reading, Pennsylvania.

Bibliography :
Boy's Life,November (1927) : 78
Popular Mechanics, December (1929) : 67
City Directory-Reading, Pennsylvania (1931) : 638 - Print Shop
City Directory-Reading, Pennsylvania (1932) : 599 - Print Shop
City Directory-Reading, Pennsylvania (1934) : 545 - Print Shop and Barber Shop
Reading TimesFriday, October 5, 1934, page 3 - stamp exhibit
City Directory-Reading, Pennsylvania (1935) : 909 - Print Shop
Reading Times, Friday, October 18, 1935, page 3 - stamp exhibit
Reading Times, Friday, December 24, 1937, page 13
City Directory-Reading, Pennsylvania (1937) : 894 - Barber Shop
Reading TimesMonday, March 21, 1938, page 11
Reading Times, Friday, August 9, 1938, page 11 - stamp exhibit
Reading Times, Wednesday, December 14, 1938, page 13
ANA Membership Directory for 1938 : Pennsylvania
Reading Times, Monday, March 20, 1939, page 8
Reading Times, Monday, July 24, 1939, page 9
Reading Times, Thursday, November 23, 1939, page 13
Stamps : A Weekly Magazine of Philately Vols. 37-38 (1941) : 424
City Directory-Reading, Pennsylvania (1941) : 1020 - Barber Shop
City Directory-Reading, Pennsylvania (1943) : 615 - Print Shop and Barber Shop
The Numismatist, Vol. 64 (1951) : 429, 544, 661
The Numismatist, Vol. 66 (1953) : 728
City Directory-Reading, Pennsylvania (1955) : 668 - Barber Shop
City Directory-Reading, Pennsylvania (1957) : 89 - Barber Shop
Numismatic Scrapbook, Vol 25 (1959) : 2369


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