I don’t remember when I first met Abner Kreisberg – mentioned as part of this coin’s provenance. It may have been at my first American Numismatic Association convention in Omaha in 1955, or it may have been earlier.
To start at the beginning, Abner was born on May 28, 1904. Abner did not enter numismatics in a serious way until joining with Abe Kosoff in 1944, although he bought and sold scrap gold before that time. While he had not been a youthful numismatist, and decades of opportunities in rare coins had passed him by, he made good use of the remaining time. In 1944 he signed with Abe Kosoff as a partner in Numismatic Gallery, which Kosoff had been operating since 1937. The combination proved to be dynamic, and with Kreisberg tending to the store and to accounting and financial matters, Kosoff wrote catalogs, played golf with clients, and advanced the customer base and reputation of the firm.
In 1944 he was also a partner in Coin Associates with Abe Kosoff and Robert Friedberg, all of New York City, whose main customer was King Farouk. In 1945 he was part of another trio – this one consisting of Abe Kosoff, Abner Kreisberg, and Hans M.F. Schulman – who hired Joseph Silverman to open their coin shop in a New York City department store.
In 1950, Abner, his wife, Gladys, and their two sons were living in California, having moved from New York City along with the Numismatic Gallery business. Kreisberg’s career might have ended about that time, except that an angel was watching over him. With a business appointment in the evening, Abner left the Los Angeles Airport in the morning on a DC-3 airplane going up the coast. When it stopped at Santa Barbara, it was still morning, and with some time on his hands, he decided to get off, enjoy the seaside town, and take a later flight to complete the trip to San Francisco. He did this. His original flight to San Francisco crashed upon take-off from Santa Barbara, and all were killed. After that time, he had a renewed appreciation of the beauties of life.
In spring 1954, Abe Kosoff went to Cairo to represent Numismatic Gallery at the Farouk sale, while Kreisberg tended to business in Beverly Hills. Upon Kosoff’s return, the two had a disagreement, and the partnership was dissolved. Kosoff went into the mail-order business, while Kreisberg retained the former premises of the Numismatic Gallery at 228 North Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills.
By 1958 I had been a strong client, and when I went to Los Angeles for the ANA convention that summer, I called at his store. Abner dropped everything and took me on a tour of Los Angeles. We may have had lunch at the Friars’ Club – I don’t recall. I do know that we went there many times over the years.
“Have you ever seen a house worth one hundred thousand dollars” he asked me, as we were driving around Beverly Hills.
“Well, there’s one,” he said. “The home of cowboy star Hopalong Cassidy just sold for that.” I was amazed!
In 1959, he took Jerry Cohen, of Tucson, Arizona, as a partner, an arrangement which lasted until 1984. Quality Sales Corporation, an auction firm, was also under their direction. The celebrated collection of John Beck of Pittsburgh, which contained over 500 examples of the 1856 Flying Eagle cent, was dispersed by Kreisberg-Cohen in a series of public auction sales and private transactions.
In 1961 Abner purchased the Lenox R. Lohr Collection of United States pattern coins – 1,200 pieces. He knew I liked patterns and had specialized in them since the early 1950s. He invited me and my business partner Jim Ruddy to come to inspect it. The price was $100,000 – probably equal to $25 million in terms of value today. We didn’t have that much money, so he offered interest-free financing for three years. Within three months we sold enough coins to pay him back!
Abner was comfortably situated and traveled widely. On one visit he said, “My wife and I took a trip around the world last year. This year we are going somewhere else!” Lots of fun. Lots of nice memories.
Abner died on July 10, 1997, and was survived by his wife of 62 years, Gladys, sons Dr. Michael Kreisberg (wife: Adriane) and Dr. Richard (wife: Cheri) Kreisberg, five grandchildren, and brothers Buddy Clarke and Leo Kreisberg. I later had the honor of selling some of his numismatic estate.