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The Passing of Numismatic Icon, John Rowe

By Kevin Lipton

It pains me to inform you that the numismatic community recently lost one of our longest, surviving PNG dealers, my dear friend John Rowe.  Johnny was the founder of Southwest Numismatics, a PNG member since 1961.  More so, Johnny forever left his mark on the numismatic world as well as every person who had the honor to spend time with him.

Johnny Rowe, a member of the ‘golden era’ of numismatics, built two of the greatest coin collections of the latter 20th century. He was a PNG member since 1961.


Johnny was a member of the “golden era” in the numismatic world, having attended ANA conventions annually since the 1950’s!   He is credited with having built two of the greatest coin collections in the second half of the 20th century.  More specifically, his close relationship with Amon Carter Jr. allowed him the opportunity to amass a collection of coins and currency that would fetch well over $100 million if sold today, including but not limited to the finest 1794 Dollar that recently sold for more than $10 million.   More so, his work with John Merrill amalgamated one of the greatest collections of rare gold and territorial issues ever assembled!

I, for one, had the privilege of meeting Johnny in the summer of 1975 when I was working for Steve Ivy as a 16-year-old kid.  Johnny, who made a habit of scrupulously choosing who he would befriend and share his words and wisdom with, for some reason, was willing to befriend a brash young kid from New Jersey.  This most unlikely of connections paved the way for me to have an almost 50-year friendship with one of the most exceptional people and numismatic dealers that ever existed.  Johnny had an almost photographic memory and his knowledge of Texas currency was unsurpassed along with his great knowledge of US gold and currency. 

Johnny’s love for our business was unwavering and beyond belief, as he could be found at nearly every ANA convention since the 50’s, with one of the longest tiered badges to prove it.  Truth be told, he loved driving around Texas and setting up at local regional shows as much as attending an ANA coin show, simply out of his sheer love of the profession; he was an incredible guy who truly loved our profession. In fact, he would continue to attend coin shows until he physically was unable to, at which point he would still do business at home with his long-time clients and colleagues.

Johnny is survived by his beautiful wife, Pat, of 60 years as well as his son, John IV, his daughter Christy and a slew of grandkids.  During this most troubling of times, our hearts go out to this amazing family that was the backbone of this spectacular and memorable man.  John Rowe will be honored on March 27th, 2023, at 1:00 pm at the Highland Park United Methodist church; his family and friends welcome all who would like to share in his memory.

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