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I still have a hard time believing that such a wonderful human being could leave us in such a way.
I have been a part time coin dealer since 1964 when in the army and then had several stores after that and had tables at small and large shows. I first met Steve at the White Plains, NY show where he and Rich had come to look thru inventories, sell tokens etc.. This would be in the mid-1970's. I had some tokens that were not attributed and he had the Fuld Numbers to give me from memory. I then went about buying the two Fuld Books and started reading. He got me into the Civil War Token Society and I started buying tokens from him. In the mid-1980's I had quite a few tokens either from him or collections, etc. and learned the love of attributing them. It was at this time that a collector wanted the off metals and Steve had them. We did a lot of business on those. This collector got me into Civil War Re-enacting and I am now the Lt. Col. of the 79th New York Cameron Highlanders. All of this because of Steve.
My memories are of very intelligent, eager to share that intelligence and someone I looked for at the shows. I will miss you Steve and thanks for the start of a great set of hobbies.
To the family of Steve Tanenbaum:
My belated condolences on your loss. Like everyone else in the numismatic community, I found Steve’s senseless death to be a brutal shock: so much so that I was unable to pen remembrances for Esylum or the numismatic message boards at the appropriate time.
I learned of the incident from Dave Bowers, and afterward followed the news on TV and internet with rising chagrin that Steve was constantly being referred to, in a single sentence, as “a pedestrian.” That dysfunctional crackhead killer and some of his other victims were being profiled right and left, yet not so much as an inch was devoted to this man who was an international authority on a particular field, and who had touched so many lives and made so many contributions to his world. I wrote to both the New York Times and Daily News suggesting they profile Steve, as a companion piece to their sickening crime story, but evidently there have been no takers. When the killer comes to trial and this story returns to the front pages, I will again agitate for some kind of expanded mention of Steve as a person, not a statistic.
In the meantime, thank you for creating this page and posting the memorial power point show. When you meet and come to know and respect someone professionally, it is a remarkable thing to be allowed a glimpse into his private side, and for the first time see the whole person. I especially got a kick out of the photos of the younger Steve.
I first met Steve around 2005, when I was researching the work of the Lovett family of medal and token engravers. I had stopped at Julian Liedman’s table to ask a few questions, and Julian pointed me in Steve’s direction; that was the beginning of a long relationship in which I was the student and Steve the tutor. He was incredibly generous with his knowledge, even though he knew I was seeking information only, and not to build a collection. He was even more accessible when not at coin shows. Since he owned a complete library of exonumia references and catalogs, and since I was writing a beginner’s guidebook for Whitman on collecting medals and tokens, he told me I could phone him any time for look-ups, rather than waste time and money traveling to the ANS library in New York. (I’m from Pennsylvania.)
Though at first I found it maddening that he would not use email, I came to treasure those two- and three-hour phone conversations. Not only did he give me mountains of accurate history and common sense practical knowledge, he also gave me a lot of fun. What I remember most about those calls is the laughing…sometimes to the point where my face hurt when I hung up.
I always stopped by Steve’s table whenever I attended a show, and when it eventually reached the point where readers asked me questions about medals and tokens, like Julian, I too, would point them in Steve’s direction.
Two important collaborations came from this relationship. When Q. David Bowers and I completed the manuscript for Whitman’s 100 Greatest U.S. Medals and Tokens, your Steve, Steve Hayden, and Joe Levine consented to act as valuations editors on the work. This resulted in several long telephone conferences in which the three experts haggled and negotiated prices in three grades for every object that made the top 100, and I furiously took notes. What fun that was for me, and what a learning experience for someone who was not in the business! Again, for my Guide Book to U.S. Tokens and Medals, Steve T., Steve Hayden, Tony Terranova, and Alan Weinberg provided valuations. This time Steve T. had a larger role. Steve T., Steve H., Tony and Alan each marked prices in three grades for all of the thousand items pictured in that book. Then your Steve averaged the prices to arrive at a final estimate. When Whitman photographer Tom Mulvaney and I traveled to the ANS to photograph hundreds of items for the book, Steve met us there, bringing hundreds of his own Civil War and merchant tokens for photography. I know he provided items for photography from his own collections, for many publications besides mine.
I think it would be interesting to create a list of all the publications Steve had a hand in creating. It will come as a surprise, probably even to those who knew him best, how far-reaching were his contributions to his field.
Steve, you were a class act and it was a pleasure working with you.
Dear Family and Friends of Steve Tanenbaum,
We have known Steve just about the entire time that he was a dealer in tokens and medals. Over the course of many years we have added tokens to our collection from his albums that he brought to coin shows. We have taken tokens to shows for him to look at and he would let us know exactly what we had. He was always the one to talk to if you had a token you needed looked at for authenticity. At a recent sale of the Krause holdings we went head to head for some Milwaukee scrip notes that had civil war token ties. Both of us overpaid for the notes we bought but he was happy with his purchases as we were with ours.
Steve was a dealer and collector who was always friendly, honest and had tokens and medals that were fairly priced. The photo of him and Steve Hayden in the photo album reminds us of a story concerning them from a FUN show convention not many years back. They were selling an A. H. Filner Milwaukee CWT for around $12,000. We could have bought one in 1990 for around $3,000 and thought that price was to high. Now we turned down this fairly priced piece and after the fact regretted it. The Krause example was sold in Wisconsin a few years after we turned down the example from Steve Tanembaum and Steve Hayden and once again the priced jumped to over $15,000. We should have bought the fairly priced example that was offered to us at the FUN show. It is a hole in our collection that will probably never be filled. We are telling this story because it could be repeated over and over by the many customers Steve Tanembaum had who were always treated fairly and usually left with tokens or medals that added greatly to their collections.
Steve was an easy going numismatist who was always very serious about his research and dealing with his customers and friends. His knowledge on tokens and medals was equal to almost anyone who lived. His service to organizations such as the Civil War Token Society will be missed greatly. You just don't replace someone with the vast knowledge on the subject as Steve Tanenbaum had.
It was a shame the way Steve left this earth. Life at times is unfair to good people like Steve who was run down by a maniac. All we know is that Steve led a good life on earth and was fair and square with everyone who crossed his path. He had a loving family who like us and all his many thousands of friends will miss him greatly. Quoting the father of Elvis Presley who has this on his Graceland stone, "For when that one great scorer comes to write against your name; He writes that not you won or lost but how you played the game." Steve played the game of life in a way everyone should, loving, caring and honest. Rest in peace Steve as we will never forgot you. Our sincere condolences to his family, Sincerely John and Nancy Wilson, Ocala, FL.
We know the great amount of work
Steve was absolutely the best uncle a person could have. He was completely selfless and I loved to spend time with him. He was my friend and besides my parents and brother, he was the closest person to me in the world. He always always made the effort for us and he was always a part of my life. Love you Uncle Steve.