Copyright © 2011-2018 John N. Lupia III

Fig. 1. Benjamin Maximillian Mehl photograph.

Benjamin Maximillian Mehl (1884-1957), was born on November 5, 1884 in the Jewish Quarter or ghetto of Lodz called Alstadt, Poland-Russia (modern Poland), son of Solomon Isaac Mehl (1849-1929) and Rachel Mehl (1846-1926). All of the Mehl family were native born Polish-Russians. As Polish Jews they were fluent in Russian, Hebrew and Yiddish, as well as all of their children. The surname Mehl is German, not Russian, and means "ground meal" or "flour" which seems to refer to a family involved in that business at an earlier time when families were given surnames based on their trade. Consequently, the Mehl family were part of the Jewish diaspora and traveled about as migrants seeking employment or a more stable Jewish community life. The Mehl family most probably left Germany during the pogroms from August to October 1819, known as the Hep-Hep riots.

According to his brief biographical sketch in The Numismatist, March, 1906, page 89, his family moved to Vilkomir, Umerge district, province of Kovno (modern Kaunas), Lithuania, when he was an infant in 1885. This proved to be a bad move since there was an anti-Jewish riot there that year. Nevertheless, Ukmerge had been an important Judaic center in Lithuania for hundreds of years. The Hebrew school had been established there since 1868. A new building was constructed in the Autumn of 1884 for the Talmud Torah. It was in these schools that young B. Max Mehl learned reading, writing, Hebrew, Torah, translation, prayer interpretation, some Gemara, arithmetic and Russian. There had been a strong Jewish migration there since 1858 attracting some 30,153 Jews according to the 1897 Russian Census. His family immigrated to America when he was ten years and five months old, in April 1895. At that time the Russian government began to organize the census for Lithuania that took place two years later.

Fort Worth, Texas, had established a Jewish Congregation in 1892, and in 1895 constructed a synagogue. Also in 1895, they established a Young Men's Hebrew Association. Sometime after November 5, 1897, B. Max Mehl celebrated his bar mitzvah at Fort Worth. From the time the Mehl family arrived the Jewish community at Fort Worth grew stronger and more organized. Numbered among the earlier Jewish settlers at Fort Worth were Nathaniel and Jacob Washer, who opened a men's clothing store in that city in 1882. When the Mehl family arrived at Fort Worth, Benjamin’s father Solomon opened a clothing store competing with the Washer Brothers. So to make the business work Mehl and his brothers worked there, while he studied in high school, working there only part-time. Benjamin lived with his parents and three brothers : Abe M. Mehl (Sept., 1873- March,1957), Joe (April, 1876-), and Meyer (Sept., 1879- Nov., 1941), and his lovely sister Eva (July, 1878-). They lived at 215 Second Street, Fort Worth, Tarrant County, Texas. By 1905 Solomon Mehl retired putting Abe Mehl, his eldest son in charge of the family business. Benjamin began as a coin dealer from the coins that crossed his father’s counter in the clothing store and entered his collection rather than the cash register, certainly swapped by him with dad's approval in exchange for his weekly pay.

His mailing address was published in The Numismatist as 1211 Main Street, Fort Worth, Texas; P. O. Drawer 976, Fort Worth, Texas. These addresses were also those of the family store. His application to join the ANA was published in the June issue 1903 of The Numismatist, and after he was approved was made ANA member no. 522, in July. He was also a member of the ANS, Pacific Coast Numismatic Society, Chicago Coin Club, New York Numismatic Club, Rochester Numismatic Association. He was a charter member listed as 32nd of the Chicago Coin Club in February, 1919.

Mehl enters the numismatic field at the beginning of the twentieth century. The old time greats of the nineteenth century are now gone. Men like Edward David Cogan (1803-1884), William Harvey Strobridge (1822-1898), William Elliot Woodward (1825-1892), Ebenezer Locke Mason, Jr. (1826-1901), Sigismund Karl Harzfeld (1830-1883), Edouard Frossard (1837-1899), Harlan Page Smith (1839-1902), George William Massamore (1845-1898), were dead and buried when Mehl first appears in the pages of The Numismatist in the summer of 1903, just after the age-old Bangs & Company auction house had closed its doors on April 1st ending its 66 year dynasty. A little over a dozen prominent dealers of the nineteenth century were still around : Silas Curtis Stevens (1837-1919), John White Haseltine (1838-1925), Augustus Goodyear Heaton (1844-1931), Lyman Haynes Low (1844-1924), John Walter Scott (1845-1919), Herbert Ellis Morey (1848-1925), Wilhem Von Bergen (1850-1916), David Ulysses Proskey (1853-1928), Sigmund Bowman Alexander (1864-1912), Samuel Hudson Chapman (1857-1931), Charles Steigerwalt (1858-1912), Luther Brown Tuthill (1859-1930), Henry Chapman, Jr. (1859-1935), Benjamin G. Green (1860-1914), George Carpenter Arnold (1868-1938) and Elmer Snow Sears (1874-1938). Mehl was one of the new rising stars together with Wayte Raymond (1886-1956), and Thomas Lindsay Elder (1874-1948), and a myriad of other new starlights.

His first published words in The Numismatist appeared in the August 1903 issue and seems to be an extract taken from a letter to Heath endorsing the magazine, which reads : “I am indeed more than pleased with the Numismatist and think it is the best publication of its kind.” [1]

In October 1903 he published a change of address in The Numismatist given as Box 24, Alvord, Texas. Also in 1903 he was a member of the British Numismatic Society.

Like Ben Green he too was a shoe clerk before entering the field of numismatics in 1903. He began coin dealing from his home at 1211 Main Street, Fort Worth, using it as an office in December 1903. Apparently he did not do well on this mail bid auction since he seems to be selling much of the same material in his January 25th 1904 circular cited in the Post Scriptum. (See photo below).

His importance as a dealer was as a merchandizing promoter evidenced by his aggressive advertising, auctions, and publishing of several series of numismatic books and periodicals. The synergy he contributed to the coin industry during his fifty-two years as a coin dealer (1903-1955) occurred during a period of economic growth in the nation before, during, and after the depression that contributed to decidedly sharp market increases of closed sales prices on coins and paper money.

His first ad in The Numismatist appeared in the December 1903 issue, and was a mail bid of 33 lots of which 9 were fractional currency notes, 7 lots were half cents (or thought to be), 5 lots were Columbia commemorative half dollars, 5 lots were gold dollars, 3 lots were quarters, 2 lots were Trade dollars, 1 lot of 28 different half dimes, and 1 lot of 16 different dimes.

Fig. 2. Mehl's Mail Bid. The Numismatist, December 1903, page 382. Under the section HALF CENTS numbers 11 through 15 are not half cents but clearly half dollars. Half cents are listed in lot 1. Perhaps all lots 5 through 15 were intended to be described as half dollars. Not a very good first volley into the auction business with this sort of ambiguity. But Mehl made up for that with amazing recovery speed. Note: Alexander & Co. offering for sale the Hub Coin Book. The firm of Sigmund Bowman Alexander (1864-1912), was an insurance and money exchange brokerage business that also acted as a coin dealership.

In January 1904 he ran his first display ad in The Numismatist as a coin dealer who exclusively buys and sells US and colonial coins, gold and fractional currency and is looking to purchase collections in whole or in part. He published a circular on his new letterhead dated Jan. 25, 1904 with the heading B. Max Mehl, Dealer in Rare Coins, and contains a fixed price list for gold coins for sale including Augustus Humbert $50.00 Gold Slug, 1852 U.S. Assay Office Gold Piece, 1860 Clark Gruber & Co. $2.50, $5.00 & $10.00 Gold Pieces and 5 different pieces of rare Mormon coinage. (See photo below). NOTE: He already had printed the 100-page Hub Coin Book probably in December 1903 and hawking them for a quarter.

Fig. 2. Earliest known circular of B. Max Mehl, January 25, 1904. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, B. Max Mehl file. (Ex-Hiram Edmund Deats Collection : Purchased from Charles T. Deats to Allen Levine a noted foreign coin and stamp dealer, who sold it to Lupia c. 2000). For sale. Estimate $300-$400. Write

In February 1904 he ran his first full-page ad in February 1904 issue of and styled himself as a “Dealer in Rare Coins” and advertised his 100-page Hub Coin Book, with the unfortunate but comical typo Hub Coin Boob [1] with over 400 illustrations for sale at 25 cents.

Fig. 3. Advertisement in The Numismatist, February 1904. First observed and published by John N. Lupia, E-Sylum, Vol. 11, Number 28, July 13, 2008. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library.

The book was printed and sold independent and anyone could have had their name printed on the cover for a fee from the Boston printer. The Hub Coin Book originally was printed and published by Alexander & Co., a publishing and bookbinding firm at Boston, Massachusetts in 1895. Alexander & Co. began a massive advertising campaign in various newspapers throughout the country to promote sales of this book about 1903. The main content of the Hub Coin Book was based on two coin books that preceded it. The old coin dealer Wilhem Von Bergen (1850-1916) published Rare Coins of America in 1889, which in turn borrowed from Dye's Coin Encyclopedia, first published in 1883, largely the work of Ebenezer Locke Mason, Jr, who published it under the name of his old friend and colleague during and after the Civil War, John Smith Dye. Mehl studied this Hub Coin Book and the genius of mass advertising that went behind it gaining for Alexander & Co. tremendous sales as it did originally with Von Bergen. So, for a relatively small investment Mehl had purchased a quantity of these with his name stamped on them beginning what would eventual turn into an empire through mass media advertising and an efficiently run mail order business. This was Mehl's first publication.

In March of 1904, he issued the Catalogue of Fine Selections of Choice United States Gold, Silver, and Copper Coins, Private and Territorial Gold, United States Fractional Currency, etc., etc.

Fig. 4. Earliest known B. Max Mehl business envelope postmarked April 4, 1904. Mehl paid $1.00 in cash to the Chapmans for the plain and priced catalogue of the Mills sale. Most probably Mehl had these printed when he had his first circular printed on January 25, 1904. Note the Fort Worth, Texas Post Office uses a Barry Postal Supply Company of Oswego, New York, Canceller Machine, dating from 1894 to 1909, with Killer 6C (see Russell F. Hanmer, A Collector's Guide to U. S. Machine Postmarks 1871-1925, 3d ed. (1989) : 55 & 57). Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive. For sale. Estimate $300-$400. Write

Fig. 5. Second earliest known business envelope of B. Max Mehl. Note he now styled himself "Numismatist Dealer in Rare Coins" after getting his feet wet after 10 months as a cottage industry dealer since running his first ad in December 1903. These three above are postmarked October 10, 1904, November 3, 1904, and April 3, 1905. The first letter to the Chapmans contained his bids for the William H. Woodin, E. E. Rust, F. Anderson and D. Pick sale held on October 20th, 1904. The Chapmans code name for Mehl was "Error". The second letter to the Chapmans dated April 3, 1905, contained his bids on the Morris sale. Note the gripper track marks left by the Barry Canceller Machine shaped like small squares, a scarce collector's delight. Also, note the label (also called a cinderella in the field of philately) he sealed the envelope with advertising his Hub Coin Book in a less expensive way than printing circulars. Also note the Chapmans code name for Mehl in this auction is "Impel" obviating he made very high bids. Right after this second letter to the Chapmans Mehl ran out of business envelopes and had a new series printed. The second series of Mehl business envelopes suggests he exhausted his stock of the first series that were most probably printed in a run of 500 business envelopes. Consequently the first nine months of 1904 Mehl seems to have mailed two pieces every single day including weekends creating the need for new stock with a new design. If he had 1,000 envelopes printed in the first series just double that mailed daily. Apparently he was a smashing success from 1904 on. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive, and also, The B. Max Mehl file. For sale. Each Estimate $300-$400. Write

Fig. 6. Mehl's whole page ads were an aggressive approach in marketing himself and his stock. The Numismatist, June, 1904, page 193. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. Earlier he ran a half page and quarter page ad in the March issue that year. His first full page ad appeared in the April issue on page 131.

In March 1905 he advertised a full page ad in Philatelic West. Thus began Mehl's very aggressive advertising campaign to dominate the market through a flood of powerful advertisements in various mass media periodicals. But advertisements alone simply could not pull off depicting himself as ubiquitous. Thus he joined virtually every coin association and club he could find.

In April 1905 he was a corresponding member of the Chicago Numismatic Society.

Fig. 8. B. Max Mehl age 20. Photograph published in The Numismatist, March (1906) : 89. He lived at 608 Jones Street, Fort Worth, Texas, at this time. The city business directory lists him as a clerk in the family store at 1211 Main Street. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library.

Fig. 7. Mehl's third series of business envelopes were printed in June 1905. The envelope is like the second series only now he adds the Fugio on the left side border. The back is sealed with the same label (also called a cinderella in the field of philately) he sealed the envelope with advertising his Hub Coin Book. There is now a pattern of every 9 months he needs 1,000 envelopes suggesting he had a daily mailing (including weekends) of 4 pieces. Mehl liked this envelope design so much he sticks with it for a few runs over the next year or so. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive. For sale. Estimate $300-$400. Write

Fig. 9. Postal Card postmarked July 7, 1906, Buffalo, New York. Mehl was a winning bidder on the Harlan Page Smith sale held by the Chapmans on their final sale as partners on June 28, 1906. Mehl seems to have been traveling on a coin hunt in Buffalo, New York, and may have taken the trip just north to Niagara Falls as a tourist. This postal card was a quick note about his speedy remittance as soon as he gets back home in Texas. "I am on my way to Texas. Shall send you bill for coin purchased at your last sales just as soon as I reach home. Very truly Yours, B. Max Mehl" Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive. For sale. Estimate $500-$600. Write

For sale two early Mehl covers of 1906. The top is the earliest design. The bottom is modified for Star Coin Book Advertisement.

Both are rare. Estimate $200-$300 each. Write

Fig. 10. Mehl letters to Henry Chapman postmarked September 22, 1906, and October 8, 1906. Mehl's fourth series of business envelopes now incorporates the advertisement for his new inexpensive coin book titled, Star Coin Book, suggesting the stock of the Hub Coin Book is now exhausted. This book was published in many editions by Mehl originally under the name of the Numismatic Company of Texas. Apparently Mehl took the best of the Hub Coin Book and made it his own and was able to sell it cheaper having done away with the middle man or jobber. Over time the Star Coin Bookbecomes synonymous with Mehl. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive. For sale. Each Estimate $300-$400. Write

He advertised his first whole page advertisement on the back cover of the October 31, 1906 issue of Philatelic West, Vol. 34, No. 3.

In 1906, Mehl spent $12.50 on an ad in Colliers magazine. According to our noble sage, John W. Adams, Mehl began publishing his Star Coin Book in 1906 comprising over 60 pages illustrated selling for a dime. He borrowed heavily from the Hub Coin Book making it his own condensed version. In that same year he rented desk space in a downtown office. By 1907 he had his own office at 1309 Main Street. By taking these carefully planned and mapped out steps beginning in June 1903 with his application for membership with the ANA to early 1907, in less than four years time, he went from dealing out of the proverbial vest-pocket to opening a real office. Shortly afterward the real crowning event in his life took place, something infinitely beyond his energy to make it big as an entrepreneur: he married Ethel Rosen (1886-) on August 18, 1907. As any great man will tell you in all humility, the woman in their lives is the not only the real driving force but the best part of life itself. In this respect Mehl, like Eric Newman and John W. Adams, had hit the jackpot.

Fig. 11. Postal Card of B. Max Mehl sent to Henry Chapman postmarked October 23, 1907, Fort Worth, Texas. He is soliciting to buy a large stock of large cents, which was very typical among the dealers asking one another for large quantities of various type U. S. coins for inventory. This is his earliest known corporate designed postal card. For sale. Estimate $500-$600. Write john@numismaticmall.comCourtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive.

In 1908 he operated two separate businesses, the Star Rare Coin Company, and the Numismatic Bank of Texas. That year the Numismatic Bank of Texas published the first issue of the Star Rare Coin Encyclopedia, a new version of his Star Coin Book though the former title was still ongoing until at least 1. As we have seen Von Bergen's Rare Coins of Americaand John Smith Dye's, Dye's Coin Encyclopedia, where the two book that predate and inspired this new book. Mehl took the names and conflated them together adding the Texas theme of the "Lone Star State", hence, Star + "Rare Coin" + "Encyclopedia". It may also be possible that the use of Star was an allusion to the Stara Synagogue in Lodz, where he was born. Regardless, he imitated Wilhelm Von Bergen (1850-1916) so much that he even took his business name trading as the Numismatic Bank and adding the phrase "of Texas". The name had already been popularized throughout the 1890's. Stealing the fire of Von Bergen, Mehl, like Prometheus lit a torch from the sun and brought fire to return to a handy inexpensive coin reference book for the layman which acted as a tool to draw out coins from the public to sell to the coin dealer. Mehl's Star Rare Coin Encyclopedia boasted of an annual circulation of 70,000 copies per year beginning in 1924.

Fig. 12. Mehl's fifth series of business envelopes. B. Max Mehl in bold script slightly diagonally placed on his business collateral becomes his well-known brand. This letter postmarked May 18, 1908 contains his bids for the Taylor-Windle sale held on June 17-18, 1908. Henry Chapman wrote back to Mehl June 2d to advise him about his bids. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive. For sale. Estimate $300-$400. Write

It has been reported that the response to Mehl's advertising campaigns accounted for more than half of the incoming mail at the Fort Worth post office.

From January 1908 to December 1911 and revived January 1914 to December 1919 he published Mehl’s Numismatic Monthly, and issuing his Price List.

In 1909 he served in the ANA as the District Secretary of the Southern States.

Fig. 13. Mehl's 11th auction held February 24, 1909, 797 lots. Printed on the inside back cover of The Numismatist, February, 1909. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library.

Fig. 15. Possibly Mehl's sixth series of business envelopes. The top design imitates the second series, and the bottom new illustrating private U. S. gold pieces. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For sale. Estimate $300-$400. Write

He attempted to move his office to New York in 1912 as a partner with the real numismatist and numismatic Titan, Wayte Raymond, but stayed only a few weeks. He returned to Fort Worth, and leased half a floor in a downtown building hiring a staff of ten.

On February 22, 1914 Benjamin Mehl arrived in New York as a passenger on the ship Cedric, sailing from Liverpool, England.

In 1916 he commissioned the newly established architect firm of Wiley Gulick Clarkson (1885-1952) to design an office building known as the "Max Mehl Building" at 1204 W. Magnolia, a 3-story 15,000 square foot building.

His 1917 Draft Registration Card 1953361, gives his birthday as November 5, 1884.

Fig. 14. Divver & Company, Atlanta, Georgia, owned by Paul Belton Divver (1871-1912) ANA member No. 96, a native of South Carolina, acting as a distributor for the Star Coin Book in 1909 selling copies at twenty-five cents postpaid. Undoubtedly Mehl's influence as the District Secretary of the Southern States of the ANA had its perks. This ad was printed on the inside back cover of The Numismatist, March, 1909. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library.

Fig. 16. B. Max Mehl business envelope during WWI. The Flat Iron Building of Fort Worth, Texas built in 1907 designed by Marshal R. Sanguinet and Carl G. Staats, and not the Mehl Building of 1916 designed by Wiley Gulick Clarkson, is here labeled The Numismatic Bank of Texas (Not Inc) together with a Saint Gaudens $20 gold piece or double eagle decorate the envelope. This one postmarked 1917 Fort Worth, Texas. Note the old Barry Machine had been replaced. Postage is bulk rate at one cent and dial has no date only the year. Courtesy of the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, the B. Max Mehl file. For sale. Estimate $100-$200. Write

Fig. 17. Mehl's Numismatic Monthly renewal card and return envelope from the January 1918 issue. Courtesy of the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, the B. Max Mehl file. For sale. Estimate $100-$200. Write

The Mehl family lived at 1124 South Henderson, Fort Worth, Texas.

Benjamin and his wife Ethel had two daughters, Lorraine Mehl (1912-), and Danna Mehl born October 4, 1917, both were born at Fort Worth, Texas.

Fig. 18. Mehl letter sent registered mail to Albert C. Hutchinson of Detroit, Michigan, postmarked April 6, 1920, Fort Worth, Texas. Hutchinson is ANA Life Member No. 22. He was also a member of the Detroit Coin Club. He specialized in collecting Roman Imperial bronze coins. On the back another Mehl sticker label sealing the envelope. Note the postage rate of twelve cents registered mail (Scott #417 Claret Brown) very scarce. Courtesy of the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, the B. Max Mehl file. For sale. Estimate $100-$200. Write

In 1921, he began publishing Mehl's Coin Circular, a publication that miserably failed issuing only 15 issues from 1921 until 1933.

By 1924, Mehl's advertising budget was up to $50,000 per year for printed advertisements, mailers, and radio spots on WMAQ, and 50 Mutual Broadcasting stations. His advertising publicity stunt was offering $50 for any 1913 Liberty nickel knowing full well none were available in circulation, but the public did not know this. It kept them searching through their pocket change hoping to discover that coin or one of the others listed in the Star Rare Coin Encyclopedia.

Fig. 19. (Above) A quartet of Mehl flyers of 1926. Note the boilerplate stock letter with signature.

Courtesy of the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, the B. Max Mehl file.

All four are for sale. Estimate $40-$55 for the quartet. Write

On August 5, 1927 he arrived in New York as a passenger from the ship Berengaria, sailing from Southampton, England.

In the March issue of The Numismatist Mehl had inserted a 13-page promotional campaign reprinting his biographical sketch originally published in Bunker's Monthly-The Magazine of Texas, and illustrated with five photographs of various offices and departments of the "Max Mehl Building" showing employees at work. Mehl knew the power of promotion and used every opportunity at his disposal to promote himself as the world's foremost authority and highest respected coin dealer in America creating the fictional image that he was as big, powerful and grand as a government institution. As Jim Blandings finally got it right, quoting his housekeeper Gussie : "If you ain't eatin' WHAM, you aint' eatin' ham!" Mehl capitalized on this advertising hype and use of mass media putting his firm out in the public venue 40 years before Eric Hodgin's wrote his novel, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House in 1946. Mehl is the original mouse that roared. He came on like the proverbial Gang Busters, 1936 radio show. He poured it on thick creating an image of power that attracted people because Mehl knew how to stimulate a want in the public 30 years before Dale Carnegie wrote about that in his classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People in 1936. Mehl knew how to touch the nerve of every treasure seeker since he knew amongst the struggling hard working general public people hoped they were lucky and possessed a rare coin worth a fortune that would solve life's problems. He advertised looking for 1913 Liberty Head Nickels when he knew none were available. But he got people curious going through jars of change looking to find a coin that could bring wealth to them, all for a buck, the price of his Star Rare Coin Encyclopedia. He capitalized on the same principle that made lotteries work since the colonial period : take a chance for a dollar, you just might have Lady Fortune smile on you. By 1929 he claimed he sold 1 million copies. Even if this were only half true he would already have amassed a small fortune by book sales alone. The power of persuasion made Mehl, a former shoe salesman, into a millionaire and captain of industry.

Mehl Price List No. 46, 1931



Rarely ever seen on the market is the entire mailer with all the contents in mint condition!

Envelope franked with Scott #551 and #705, 3rd class mail, has slight crease.

Price List No. 51, 1933

All six items shown here are sold as one lot for just $60 + S&H + Insurance!

Makes a great exhibition and conversation piece.

Fig. 20. Mehl brochure, Partial Premium List of the Most Valuable American Coins, 1934. Courtesy of the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, the B. Max Mehl file. For sale. Estimate $100-$200. Write

Mehl Price List No. 56, 1936. For sale.

As the saying goes, "the more money some people have the more they want." Mehl was no exception. Eric Newman has enjoyed the longest and most colorful numismatic career in American numismatic history. He is loved by countless collectors who have enjoyed reading his well researched articles and books on numismatics which spans 76 years this 2015. Among the numerous anecdotes that vibrantly color his writings are such stories as the time B. Max Mehl asked him to be a shill bidder in one of his auctions, and the moral giant of integrity Newman flat out told him, "No!" Though Mehl might not be classified as the patron saint of coin dealers he did exemplify high quality business standards that others imitated from the 1940's on like Stack's and a little later Bowers. No coincidence these two Titanic firms merged like America's manifest destiny. The Chapmans gave us the model of the professional numismatist's coin auction catalogue, but, Mehl's great legacy is the large commercial coin dealership, as big as Macy's, selling everything and specializing in gem rarities within the firm's showcase and coin auction sales.

In March 1939, shortly after the Hewitt brothers, Lee and Clifford began publishing The Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine, he published a new numismatic magazine, Mehl’s Coin Chronicle. Mehl would not allow himself to be outdone or out shined by anyone. He had hoped real numismatic experts would take the lead stirring up enthusiasm with exciting articles as in his former publication Mehl’s Numismatic Monthly. The publication died after its second issue in September 1939

Fig. Invoice dated September 7, 1943, from Mehl to Harold I. Hall, Secretary of the Albany Numismatic

Society. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, Albany Numismatic

Society Archive.

He and his wife Ethel Rosen Mehl (1887-1956) lived at 1124 South Henderson Street, just a few blocks from his business. The Mehl family, including his parents, brothers, and other family members owned apartments, clothing and shoe stores in the city, and were active in the Hebrew Relief Society.

Fig. 21. Payment made on February 28, 1946 in the amount of One Hundred and Fifty dollars to well-known Philadelphia coin dealer William Rabin (1891-1956) who had a shop at 906 Filbert Street since the 1920's. Courtesy of the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, the B. Max Mehl file. For sale. Estimate $50-$100. Write

Wilfred Weiss, a writer for The Saturday Evening Post gave Mehl the moniker "Dean of American Numismatists" in February 1949, the same year Hobbies gave the same title to David Cassel Wismer (1857-1949). Yet, The Numismatistfirst gave that appellation to Henry Chapman, Jr., in 1945.

Five B. Max Mehl bank checks are available at just $25 each + S&H + Insurance.

They are all the same size. The scanner images are unequal proportionately. Order by telling me which check number you want.

Fig. 22. 75th Price List of the United States and Foreign Coins and Paper Money, 1951. This Price List went through 81 numbers or editions. Courtesy of the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, the B. Max Mehl file. NOTE: "ESTABLISHED 51 YEARS" would necessitate he began doing business in 1900. You can't always believe what you read regarding establishment start up dates from dealers' printed matter! For sale. Estimate $50-$100. Write

On August 13, 1952 he arrived in New York as a passenger aboard the ship Queen of Bermuda, sailing from Bermuda. On October 25, 1955, he held his last coin auction sale.

He died two years and one month after his last auction on September 28, 1957 (Death Certificate: 51769).

Over the years Mehl bought and sold renowned collections including Grinnell, Atwater, King Faruk, Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ten Eyck, Amon Carter, and William Forrester Dunham (1857-1936). The latter collection included an 1804 silver dollar, 1822 half eagle, 1802 half dime, the largest collection of encased postage stamps ever formed, and an extensive collection of Hard Times tokens. Mehl sold the collection on June 3, 1941 with a total of 4,169 lots bringing in $83,364.08!

Inducted into the ANA Numismatic Hall of Fame in 1974.


[1] Tom Elder in his monthly column "Recollections of an Old Collector," Hobbies, March (1936) : 86 "An Old Collector", mistakenly has Mehl as a dealer in 1902.

There are numerous items in the Lupia Numismatic Library in two large special collections on Mehl that can illustrate a good sized book. Unfortunately due to both time and space constraints I have limited these to a few for this very brief biographical sketch.

[1] First observed and published by John N. Lupia, E-Sylum, Vol. 11, Number 28, July 13, 2008.

Work :

The early United States silver dollars, half dollars, and quarter dollars as originally described in "Hazeltine Type Table Catalog", reprinted with additions by B Max Mehl, Numismatist, Fort Worth, Texas. The 1927 catalog has 76 pages

Coin Auction Sales (116) :

001. May 12, 1906, 635 lots. Mail bid auction

002. November 15, 1906, 516 lots. Mail bid auction

003. March 16, 1907, 1020 lots

004. June 22, 1907, 678 lots. W. E. Edwards; S. P. Groves; C. Brum

005. November 16, 1907, 588 lots

006. March 14, 1908, 701 lots

007. April 30, 1908, 640 lots

008. June 4, 1908, 657 lots

009. July 29, 1908, 562 lots

010. November 11, 1908, 666 lots. Homer J. Hendricks; Charles L. Miller

011. February 24, 1909, 797 lots

012. November 22, 1909, 809 lots

013. June 11, 1910, 811 lots

014. March 14, 1911, 1052 lots. S. M. Morton, T. J. Lynch, et al.

015. April 22, 1911

016. June 17, 1911

017. November 11, 1911

018. February 17, 1912

019. March 20, 1912

020. September 28, 1912

021. November 19, 1912

022. January 28, 1913

023. April 15, 1913

024. May 19, 1913

025. July 14, 1913

026. October 30, 1913

027. January 21, 1914

028. March 18, 1914

029. May 6, 1914

030. July 14, 1914

031. October 21, 1914

032. November 30, 1914

033. January 30, 1915

034. March 18, 1915

035. May 25, 1915

036. November 23, 1915

037. February 29, 1916

038. May 17, 1916

039. July 12, 1916

040. November 7, 1916

041. February 27, 1917

042. May 15, 1917

043. June 12, 1917

044. July 24, 1917

045. October 30, 1917

046. December 12, 1917

047. March 12, 1918

048. April 30, 1918

049. July 17, 1918

050. October 29, 1918

051. December 18, 1918

052. February 18, 1919

053. May 14, 1919

054. July 16, 1919

055. November 19, 1919

056. March 10, 1920

057. June 22, 1920

058. November 23, 1920

059. February 15, 1921

060. May 17, 1921

061. June 28, 1921

062. November 22, 1921

063. May 2, 1922

064. December 12, 1922

065. April 17, 1923

066. October 2, 1923

067. December 18, 1923

068. May 27, 1924

069. December 9, 1924

070. March 10, 1925

071. May 5, 1925

072. October 20, 1925

073. April 20, 1926

074. December 14, 1926

075. April 12, 1927

076. March 27, 1928

077. December 11, 1928

078. April 9, 1929

079. February 11, 1930

080. May 6, 1930

081. June 24, 1930

082. December 9, 1930

083. April 14, 1931

084. December 8, 1931

085. February 23, 1932

086. November 8, 1932

087. May 9, 1933

088. April 17, 1934

089. June 23, 1936

090. April 27, 1937

091. March 22, 1938

092. November 15, 1938

o93. Tuesday, June 13, 1939, Alex J. Rosborough, 52-pages

094. November 28, 1939, 2257 lots. William B. Hale

095. March 26, 1940

096. October 29, 1940

097. June 3, 1941

098. January 27, 1942

099. June 23, 1942

100. January 26, 1943

101. March 9, 1943, 1081 lots. Henry E. Elrod

102. June 15, 1943

103. February 8, 1944

104. November 7, 1944

105. March 13, 1945

106. June 12, 1945

107. November 23, 1945

108. June 11, 1946. William C. Atwater

109. February 18, 1947

110. June 17, 1947

111. March 23, 1948

112. April 26, 1949

113. May 23, 1950, 2763 lots. Golden Jubilee Sale. Jerome Kern

114. June 12, 1951, 2685 lots. King Farouk

115. November 30, 1954, 4009 lots. J. C. Rovensky; L. W. Hoffecker

116. October 25, 1955, 2377 lots. James H. Collins, Ernest C. May


This article was first published December 23, 2015. Many illustrations were lacking at that time preventing its publication in other numismatic periodicals.

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