“There is a story that I must tell…” The Jive Five, “My True Story,” Beltone Records, 1965
Well, it’s early Friday morning, three days before that most holy – and commercial – holiday of the Christopagan world, Christmas day. Oh, did I mention it’s snowing here in chilly NH. Yep, we’re expecting 6” to 8” today, followed by an ice storm tomorrow, which leaves me from about 3 PM this afternoon until sundown – 4:15 or so – to remove the snow from our 150’ driveway with the trusty old snow blower before it turns to icy, treacherous weather tomorrow; wheeeee! Sunday will be clear, but Monday the 25th shows a forecast for a white Christmas again this year, so I’d better treat myself to another can of gas for the snow blower!
Speaking of the Lakes Region of NH, where I live, there have been several world-famous numismatic firms located in the small New England town of Wolfeboro, NH, with which most readers will be familiar, even if just by name. I’ve always enjoyed telling people I worked for five different numismatic firms from the same building in downtown Wolfeboro.
The first company I worked for was Bowers and Merena, founded in 1982 by Q. David Bowers and Raymond N. Merena. Ray Merena hired me in May 1987. In 2000, Dave and Ray sold the company to Collectors Universe, parent company of PCGS and other companies. That year, Ray announced his retirement. In 2003, Dave Bowers left the firm that still carried his name, and Bowers and Merena took on a new direction, announcing it was moving to Louisiana. Some of the original staff went south, and some of us stayed north in NH.
In March of the year I answered an ad that appeared in the local newspaper. It seems a new numismatic company was being formed, and they were looking for help. The new company was to be called American Numismatic Rarities, a name that would shine brightly for a few brief years, leaving its mark on numismatic history on many occasions. I immediately tendered my resume to the folks running the new company. Old friends Christine Karstedt and John Babalis, founders of ANR, were two former B&M employees, who, like myself, stayed north of the Mason-Dixon line when that company moved to Louisiana.
The staff of the new company quickly fell into place. I was formally hired in March 2003 at the Baltimore coin show, the first hire of the new company, and we were off and running. In the meantime, Dave Bowers took a well-deserved vacation from coins, though he did wish us all well in our new endeavor. ANR thrived for three years, making headlines repeatedly and setting the pace of the numismatic auction marketplace throughout its entire brief history. And, perhaps most telling, one day a year or so into its lifetime, the company hired a fellow named Q. David Bowers; his resume was too good to pass on!
Meanwhile, down south, the firm now called Bowers and Merena lasted a short time before it was announced the company had been sold to yet another owner, this time in California. The Louisiana team was off to sunny CA, where that version of B&M regained its momentum under its new ownership.
One morning in early 2006, the staff of ANR was called together in the conference room, where it was announced that the company would be merged with Stack’s in New York City. It shocked many of us, but we were still employed and didn’t have to move to New York City, so all was still right with the world. As long as we had our offices in Wolfeboro, we were contented little numo-nerds.
Then it happened again! In 2011 it was announced that Stack’s of NYC and – ready for this? – Bowers and Merena of CA, were merging into a new firm that would henceforth be known as Stack’s Bowers Galleries. And so, it all comes full circle!
That, my friends, is the story of my career at Bowers and Merena; Bowers and Merena/Collectors Universe; American Numismatic Rarities; Stack’s; and Stack’s Bowers. Five companies, one guy, one location; that’s the full story, and I’m stickin’ to my guns on this one.
Merry Christmas to all my friends who celebrate the holiday, and to all my many friends who don’t, may you still enjoy the happiness the season often brings! ‘Til next time and NBAR #13!