Boosel, Harry X (1912-1994)

Harry X Boosel joined the Chicago Coin Club on March 7, 1934 as member No. 239. During his 60-year membership he served as President 1951-52 and was Chairman of the 1937 ANA Convention (in Washington, D.C., while living there temporarily) and General Chairman of the 1966 Chicago ANA Convention. He received the Club’s Medal of Merit in 1962 and its Literary Award in 1972. A frequent exhibitor, he was honored with eight Cabeen Exhibit Awards, and spoke before the club many times.

Mr. Boosel (August 17, 1912 – August 18, 1994) had a long career with the U.S. Government, starting as a file clerk in 1936 and retiring in 1972 as Chief, Office of Industrial Security, Defense Supply Agency. During World War II, he spent four years in the military, serving in the Army Counter Intelligence Corps and the Office of Strategic Services. His father had a good income and he lived at home for many years, enabling him to collect early U.S. proof sets at the age of 21.

Fellow club member Lee Hewitt (Hall of Fame No. 6) suggested that he collect the coinage of 1873 because of the many types produced that year. Rising to the challenge, Mr. Boosel wrote a series of articles on them for the Numismatic Scrapbook, March 1957 – December 1958, discovering that there were two varieties of the date: Closed 3 (original) and Open 3 (improved). These articles were reprinted as 1873-1873 (with the two date fonts) and the varieties added to the 13th edition of the Guide Book. He also shared his knowledge of 1873 issues at the 1986 ANS Coinage of the Americas Conference. And in 1959 he published the results of his study of Saudi Arabian gold discs, giving the reason for their issue and exposing recent counterfeits.

In 1943, while serving in the Army in Marquette, Michigan, Mr. Boosel came across the important 19th-century collection of Nathan M. Kaufman, on display in the First National Bank & Trust Company there, in a special room built specifically to house it (the most valuable pieces were held in two safes, which remained closed during the war). In 1970 he returned and was able to inventory and appraise the whole collection, which was finally sold at auction in 1978.

Over the years Mr. Boosel gave a great deal back to the hobby, serving as Governor of the ANA (in 1937, the youngest ever elected) in the 1930s and 1980s; Chairman, National Coin Week; and Governor and President, Central States Numismatic Society. He placed award-winning exhibits. The ANA presented him with its highest honor, the Farran Zerbe Award, in 1989. He was appointed to the Assay Commission in 1964 and elected a Fellow of the American Numismatic Society in 1987.

Mr. Boosel wanted to be called “Mr. 1873” because of his extensive study of the coinage of that year, to the eventual exclusion of almost everything else. He made a point of insisting that his middle name was “X” (no period), and refused to accept a Chicago Coin Club Cabeen Exhibit Award medal on which the engraver had added one; the club had another made, with careful instructions.


The article was published first in the Chicago Coin Club Hall of Fame and is re-published courtesy of the Chicago Coin Club.