By Jesse Robitaille
On the morning of June 11, 2015, in Walnut Creek, Calif., esteemed numismatist Charles “Chuck” Moore died at the age of 68.
He’s survived by his wife of nearly 40 years, Leslie, and their daughter Alexandra and son Matthew. A Celebration of Life was scheduled for June 28 at the Old Mill in Toronto. The family also scheduled a memorial service for June 22 in California at the Pleasant Hill Community Center.
LIFE & TIMES
Born in Detroit, Mich., on Aug. 5, 1946 where he also attended college on a football scholarship, Moore eventually moved to Canada during an escalation in the Vietnam War, which had seen many young Americans shipped off to fight communist forces in the jungles of Southeast Asia. It was a controversial war with no clear meaning or purpose, so on the advice of his father – himself a Second World War flying ace and Moore’s greatest hero – he left for Canada, fearing conscription along with tens of thousands of other Americans.
Now into his 20s, Moore settled in downtown Toronto, where he began working for the “dean of Canadian numismatics” and founder of the Charlton Press, Jim Charlton, before setting up his own coin shop on Queen Street in 1969. The coming decades would see Moore Numismatic Auctions sell off some of the hobby’s most prominent offerings.
By 1974, Moore had met his wife, whom he married four years later. The couple would eventually settle in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., and in the early 1990s, they began a family.
Believing the U.S. would provide better education for their children, Moore and his wife moved the family down south, where they settled in the San Francisco Bay Area. Here, from the sunny city of Walnut Creek, Moore continued with numismatics, expanding both his personal business in Toronto and his volunteer work with the hobby.
There, at the forefront of Canadian numismatics, he would remain until his death.
“It is a sad day when a Canadian icon passes,” said Steven Bromberg, president and CEO of Canadian Coin and Currency and a longtime friend of Moore. “Chuck Moore has been a dominant figure in numismatics since before I started collecting in the early 1970s, and he has been a mentor and role model to me over the past 30 years.”
Former Canadian Coin News editor and current RCNA President Bret Evans knew Moore as both a friend and a colleague and said he will greatly miss his presence.
“It’s a shame for Canadian numismatics,” said Evans, who is also a director with the Canadian Association for Numismatic Education (CAFNE). “Chuck has been a prominent part of the hobby for decades and was also a supporter of the RCNA. He gave generously of his time and his resources for the betterment of the hobby. It leaves a gaping hole in the hobby.”
However, Evans said, Moore’s influence on and accomplishments in numismatics would be felt for years to come.
“I had the pleasure of working with Chuck for many years at Canadian Coin News, and he was a professional in all of his dealings.”
Moore was a Fellow and 38-year life member of the Royal Canadian Numismatic Association (RCNA). For 27 years, he sat on its board of directors. He would eventually serve one term as vice-president and two consecutive terms as president (2003-07).
Moore was also a 34-year life member, 30-year board member and had served as both vice-president and president (2003-05) of the Canadian Paper Money Society. What’s more, he was a founding charter member of the Canadian Association of Numismatic Dealers (CAND), serving terms as both vice-president and president.
Bromberg added: “Chuck combined exceptional professional knowledge with an affable personality and made many friends along the way. I have been honoured to have Chuck as a friend as well as a colleague and business partner in our Canadian Legacy Sales. Chuck will leave an everlasting legacy on both the numismatic community and on the many people who have come to know him.”
In 2010, Moore was awarded the J. D. Ferguson Award – Canadian numismatics’ highest honour – for his countless contributions to the hobby.
At the time of his death, he was chairman of CAFNE, which provides grants for numismatic education.
Moore had been a dominant figure in numismatics for decades, serving as a mentor, role model and friend to many in the hobby.
Moore Numismatic Auctions – or Moore’s – opened for business in July 1969. Its first public auction was held in April 1977 at the Ontario Numismatic Association’s (ONA) annual convention.
Since 1977, Moore’s held about 130 auctions, with two major auctions held in Canada nearly every year. Altogether, more than $100 million-worth of coins, tokens and banknotes crossed the auction block, reaching more than 25,000 collectors around the world.
“I worked with Chuck Moore for many years, dating back to the 1980s, when we were on the RCNA executive together,” said Paul Johnson, secretary of both the RCNA and CAFNE. “He had a very high reputation, and it’ll be a big loss for the hobby to know that he’s gone.”
Moore’s highlight auctions include three sales for the Bank of Canada, which saw him auction off one of the most valuable collections ever to be offered in Canada.
Over the decades, Moore’s set numerous world price records for Canadian coins and banknotes, including in 2010, when a 1910 Bank of Vancouver $5 note – serial number reading 000001 – realized $150,000.
“He was one of the hobby’s foremost auctioneers,” said Johnson. “Some of the collections he brought together for auction were unparalleled over the last number of years.”
Altogether, Moore’s conducted many sales for the RCNA, ONA, CAND, Toronto International Coin Fair, Torex, and many other numismatic clubs and associations.
Sandy Campbell, owner of Proof Positive Coins, echoed comments about Moore’s “incredible legacy” after four decades in the hobby.
“It’s a sad day for Canadian numismatics,” he said. “Chuck built an incredible legacy, and it’ll probably continue long after he’s gone. He handled some of the more important events in Canadian auctions, such as the Landon and Bank of Canada sales. It’s sad, because at 68-years-old, he was certainly too young.”
A GREAT COLLEAGUE
In recent years, as Moore and Johnson became more involved with CAFNE, the two began working together a lot, something Johnson looks back on fondly.
“We worked really well together, and I always enjoyed my dealings with him, both professionally and personally,” Johnson said.
Henry Nienhuis, RCNA education chair and fellow CAFNE director, fondly remembered his time working with Moore.
“Chuck asked me to become chair, and since that time, I’ve organized the annual symposiums,” said Nienhuis, about how Moore persuaded him to join organized numismatics. “I first met him at a Torex, and he had been supportive throughout the years, both from a collecting and organized numismatics perspective. I think it’s a great loss to the hobby and auction side of the world, too.”
Warren Tucker, vice-president of Heritage World Coin Auctions, said Moore was stalwart in all of his dealings.
“Chuck had been a friend for years – close to 30 years,” said Tucker. “It’s going to be an unbelievable loss, particularly for the Canadian coin market. Chuck was at the forefront in just about every way; it wasn’t only in his auctions but in the work he did for Canadian coins. Everyone knew and loved Chuck. He was just such a great guy.”
Robert Armstrong, of Bob Armstrong Coins, said he would greatly miss his close friend Moore.
“He had been a good friend since back in the 1980s. I’d been to all of his auctions from the time I was a dealer, and I was a dealer for a long time,” said Armstrong. “He was just a real close friend and a real good businessperson to deal with.”
Armstrong reckoned the loss to the numismatic community would be substantial.
“There are other auction houses in the country now, but he was one of the longest-running, and he always had something for everyone. He never differentiated between the big and the small.”
Fellow auctioneer Marc Verret of the Canadian Numismatic Company said he was extremely saddened to lose a dear friend and “a great numismatist at heart.”
“Chuck Moore was more than just a coin dealer and auctioneer. He was a passionate driving force in helping the hobby move forward … His everyday journey was set to bettering our business and its potential. His work for the coin community will be forever appreciated and remembered.”
Business is business, said Verret, and as a competitor in an active market, he said some tension is to be expected.
“But you always remained true to our friendship, and instead of competition, you helped us to progress in our knowledge and our business,” said Verret, about Moore’s helpful nature, even when dealing with supposed competitors.
“Your integrity to our relationship was irreproachable, and for that, we say thanks. We give you our word that we’ll work to carry on where you left off and ensure you are not forgotten.”
A UNIQUE GEM
Verret added: “Your sincere friendship will be missed – as well as those superb steak and wine dinners we shared throughout the years – but mostly, we will miss seeing you on a regular basis at coin shows, wearing your excessively bright multi-coloured sweater.”
Another fellow auctioneer and longtime friend, Michael Walsh, said he was “extremely priveleged” to spend about 15 years working closely alongside Moore.
“His affable style engendered friendship. He was always eager to share his knowledge and often a simple question led to a wonderful, long outpouring from an unbelievable depth of experience and wisdom. He had a brilliant mind and an amazing memory for numismatic detail that reflected his depth of interest,” wrote Walsh, who worked with Moore to plot the “course of the Canadian Numismatic Association, taking it from a dwindling membership and near bankruptcy in the 1990s to a thriving Royal Canadian Numismatic Association.”
After attending coin shows or conducting auctions, the two would often enjoy dinner together, sharing stories over steaks and fine wine.
“One of his many passions besides numismatics was great wine and fine dining, which paralleled my own,” said Walsh. “Boxing was another of Chuck’s great passions, but to relate his boxing tales here would fill too many pages. It filled many dinners and emptied many bottles.”
Evans said Moore, an enjoyer of the finer things in life – outstanding coins, delicious wine and savoury steaks, to name but a few – was even working on his PhD in genetics before his death.
“He was genuinely a great person to spend time with and had a lot of interests outside of numismatics,” said Evans. “Some of my fondest memories were of talking about things other than numismatics. He was very widely read and we’d talk about everything from philosophy and human nature right through to economics and politics.”