Grande Dame of Numismatics Passes Away at 97
(Byline James A. Simek)
Catherine Bullowa-Moore, a very highly respected Philadelphia coin dealer for six and one-half decades, passed away peacefully May 15, 2017. She was 97 years of age and was originally from Larchmont, New York. She was likable, charming, engaging and very interested in educating people about the joys of numismatics. She was particularly fond of talking to youngsters about coins because she felt they represented the future of the hobby.
I first met Catherine in 1966, I believe, at a coin show in downtown Chicago. I was a teenager with very little money to spend, and I let her know that. She graciously spent time visiting with me and even let me have a coin on “memo” since I did not have enough money with me to pay for it (at the time I did not even know what “memo” meant!). I was taken aback, since we had just met and did not really know each other, but she said “that’s OK, I trust you.” That left an indelible mark and led to a friendship that has endured for more than half a century. She is one of the reasons I am in this profession today.
After marrying David Bullowa, one of America’s premier professional numismatists, Catherine was thrust into the rare coin business when David died unexpectedly in October 1953 after only 1-1/2 years of marriage. Although approached by numerous dealers who wanted to purchase the business name and location, Catherine was determined to make a career of it herself. “Determined” is a good word to describe Catherine. She was independent, strong-willed and extremely capable and was admired by many for having these traits.
She had acquired a love of coins from her late husband and, in his memory, decided to continue the business. Keep in mind that, at the time, there were only a handful of female coin dealers in the entire country so this presented quite a challenge for the young lady who had majored in zoology at Connecticut College.
Catherine loved to read and made good use of David’s extensive numismatic library. She studied not only United States coins and currency, but foreign and ancient coins as well. It was not long before she was a self-taught expert in several aspects of numismatics.
In 1959, Catherine married Earl E Moore, an autographs and manuscripts specialist. Their union was to last 41 years. They were frequent attendees at coin shows and conventions throughout the country and world and both of them enjoyed the camaraderie and interactions with old friends that these opportunities afforded.
Through the years, Catherine held membership in numerous professional and hobby-related organizations. Among them were the American Numismatic Society (ANS) of which she was a Life Fellow and to which she contributed generously; the Royal Numismatic Society (RNS) of which she was a Fellow; the International Association of Professional Numismatists (IAPN) where she was a member of the Executive Committee for many years, as well as an Honorary Member; the American Numismatic Association (ANA) in which she held Life Membership #355; and the American Society of Appraisers (ASA) where she had Senior Member status. She was also a founding member of the Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG), and one of only a handful of individuals to have been given Life Member status (#3) by the organization.
Catherine received many awards and accolades throughout her illustrious career, and one she was quite pleased to receive was the PNG’s inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997. She also received their Art Kagin Numismatic Ambassador Award in 2013.
One achievement of which she was particularly proud was to have been chosen in 1965 as a member of the United States Assay Commission. Names were submitted by the Director of the Mint to the White House where the final choices were made. Members would check random samples of the previous year’s coinage for weight and purity and membership in the Commission carried with it a great deal of prestige. She also was a member of the Old Time Assay Commissioners’ Society and enjoyed that immensely.
Catherine’s rich legacy and fond memories remain with countless people she has come in contact with throughout her long and illustrious career in numismatics. She will be greatly missed by her family, as well as by numerous friends and associates.