B. Max Mehl

Benjamin Maximillian Mehl (November 5, 1884 – September 28, 1957), usually known as B. Max Mehl, was an American dealer in coins, selling them for over half a century. The most prominent dealer in the United States, through much of the first half of the 20th century, he is credited with helping to expand the appeal of coin collecting from a hobby for the wealthy to one enjoyed by many.

B. Max Mehl
Mehl c.1950
Born
Benjamin Maximillian Mehl

(1884-11-05)November 5, 1884
DiedSeptember 28, 1957(1957-09-28) (aged 72)
Resting placeGreenwood Cemetery (Beth-El section), Fort Worth, Texas
NationalityAmerican
OccupationCoin dealer
Spouse(s)
Ethel Rosen
(m. 1907)

Mehl was born in Congress Poland, which was part of the Russian Empire. His family brought him to what is now Lithuania, and then to the United States, settling in Fort Worth, Texas, where he lived for almost all of his adult life. While still a teenager, he began to sell coins, which he had previously collected. Joining the American Numismatic Association (ANA) in 1903 at age 18, he quickly became a full-time coin dealer, and by 1910 was one of the most well-known in the country.

During his half-century of coin dealing, his customer list included Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Colonel E. H. R. Green. He sold coins from the collections of important numismatists (coin collectors) at auction, including Jerome Kern and King Farouk. Mehl was the first dealer to advertise in non-numismatic publications, helping to broaden the appeal of the hobby. He claimed to have spent over a million dollars on advertisements offering to buy a 1913 Liberty Head nickel for $50, though he knew there were none in circulation to be found. This got the public to search through their pocket change looking for rare coins that Mehl might buy, and greatly increased sales of Mehl's coin books, adding to his profit.

Many of his great auction sales took place in the 1940s, but by the following decade, he was becoming less active, and he died in 1957; his business continued into the 1960s. Mehl was elected to the Numismatic Hall of Fame in 1974, and to the CoinFacts Dealer Hall of Fame in 2010.


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