Reflections on a Collector
SON RECALLS CHARLIE RICARD’S PASSION FOR FAMILY, NAPOLEONIC MEDALS AND FELLOW COLLECTORS
By Marc Charles Ricard
Charlie Ricard’s collecting career started at age 8, when, after nearly severing his fingertip in a car door, his uncle gave him a 1922 silver dollar to ease the pain. Little did he know that this simple act would lead to nearly seven decades of collecting, service and scholarship in numismatics.
Charles J. Ricard was born in Rochester, N.Y., in 1930 into a family with a numismatic heritage. The great-grandson of John C. Lighthouse, a famed collector at the turn of the century, Charlie followed in his ancestor’s footsteps by joining the Rochester Numismatic Association at age 17, and the American Numismatic Association at 23.
After serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, he returned to Rochester and began studying numismatics under the mentorship of legendary coin collectors George Bauer and John Pittman. A potentially lucrative career as a coin dealer was the obvious next step, but Charlie knew that the thrill of building a collection was far more important to him than the “money side” of the business.
Using his GI Bill, he received his Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from the University of Rochester, becoming the first in his family to earn a college degree. This launched a nearly 50-year career as a bank auditor, where he helped bring the computer age into the world of banking. A move to Chicago in 1962 helped his business and collecting interests in a much larger forum. In Chicago, one of the major coin-collecting cities of the time, his connections paved the way to his leadership in local and national coin groups.
Also around this time, after researching his French ancestry, Charlie decided to learn everything he could about Napoléon Bonaparte and his legacy in numismatics. He set out to build the finest collection of Napoleonic medals that he could afford, and also share his knowledge with the collecting public. Charlie was fascinated with the beauty of the engravings, and would later find a family connection to the Duvivier family of French engravers. This connection drove him deeper into medal collecting, later expanding his collection to the bronze and porcelain works of art that depicted Napoleon and his family.
The author of numerous numismatic articles, he was a speaker at many local and national coin club events on a variety of subjects that he knew well. He was known for his generosity, taking time to answer questions from other collectors, as seen in his large archive of correspondence. And through these letters, he offers a glimpse into the real joy he had in sharing his love for the hobby with all collectors, young and old, famous and not so famous. It really didn’t matter to Charlie who you were. It only mattered that you shared a love of numismatics.
He was able to reach the heights of numismatics through his numerous awards and offices held. But he always remained a collector who tried to collect various pieces in their finest conditions, and learn as much about each piece that he could. He was a great husband, father and friend to many. But most importantly, he was a good man.
MARC CHARLES RICARD is a past president of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
This story appears in the Spring/Summer 2018 edition of The Intelligent Collector magazine. Click here to subscribe to the print edition.