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Funeral a Sad Event
November 07, 2008

Today is the funeral of Fort Worth, Texas, coin dealer Helen Wallace, who died Oct. 29 at the age of 64. I won't be in attendance, but my thoughts will be there when the clock strikes 10 this morning.

She was the wife of the late R.E. "Bob" Wallace, who died in 1999. He was a coin dealer for many years.

Helen continued to operate the coin and stamp business after his death. She was in a new building that has been open only for the last couple of years. The necessity of it was the city of Fort Worth used the powers of eminent domain to take the prior permanent location, forcing Helen to run her business from temporary quarters for years on end.

I happened to visit her temporary operation during a visit to the Texas Numismatic Association convention a number of years back. I have forgotten just how many.

I observed first hand that she enjoyed her cigarettes and a good stiff drink. I don't know if the brandy old fashioneds she had on hand were for the benefit of the Wisconsin delegation she was hosting (there was more than one of us Krause employees on hand), because I note that in her formal obituary it is written that "Mrs. Wallace was truly a one of a kind, pistol packing, Pall Mall smoking, bourbon drinking tornado of a woman who believed strongly in the rights of individual landowners."

Perhaps she had just run out of bourbon that day.

During my visit I paid my respects to the derelict B. Max Mehl building. He died in 1957. He pioneered mass marketing coins. Bob Wallace had acquired a number of Mehl's assets, including canceled checks with the famous coin dealer's signature.

When it is time to go back in 2010 for the proposed American Numismatic Association convention, Fort Worth won't feel quite the same without a visit to Helen's shop.

Rest in peace.

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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