If you’re a pawnbroker with an extensive coin collection, or even just getting started with the hobby, you’ve probably heard the name of Eric P. Newman. Still going strong at 103 years old, he is one of the most accomplished numismatists in the world and is considered to be one of the greatest experts in the field.
Newman’s interest in coin collecting began at age seven when his father gave him an 1859 Indian Head cent. Throughout his childhood, he spent his free time in Burdette G. Johnson’s coin store in downtown St. Louis. The two formed a mentor-student relationship, which majorly contributed to Newman’s expertise.
In 1936, Newman made it onto the “who’s-who” list of numismatists when his acquaintance, E.H.R. Green passed away. Green was also a numismatist and left behind a sizeable estate. With financial backing from his mentor, Newman and Johnson teamed up to purchase some of the estate’s finest specimens – including the five only known 1913 Liberty Head nickels, which are worth millions of dollars today.
In addition to holding a priceless coin collection, Newman has made significant contributions to the field of numismatics. His books and articles are considered standard reading for serious numismatists and historians of currency. His work in numismatics has earned him multiple awards, including the Heath Literary Award of the American Numismatic Association (ANA), the ANA’s Medal of Merit, and the Association’s highest honor, the Farran Zerbe Award. In 1986, he was enrolled in the ANA’s Hall of Fame and, in 1996, named that organization’s “Numismatist of the Year.” In 2006 Washington University in St. Louis opened the Newman Money Museum, which displays a large portion of his collection.
Despite his age and mountain of accomplishments, Newman is still researching, publishing, and contributing to the study of numismatics. If you’re just starting to collect coins, or want to know more about your collection, Newman’s books would be an excellent resource.