February 13, 2014 – In 1964, Harlan J. Berk, Ltd. opened its doors. Over the years Harlan has sold everything from beautiful sea shells to autographs, but the one constant has been ancient coins. Harlan’s passion for coins has been the cornerstone of the success for the now 50 year old business. In 1974, Harlan put out his first list, which ultimately resulted in the Buy or Bid sale as you have come to know them by the 11th catalog. Since then, the format has changed from a broadside catalog to the current format but sales continue to showcase some of the world’s most beautiful and historical ancient coins.
Many of their customers know that Harlan J. Berk, Ltd. is a family business. Over 20 years ago Aaron Berk joined the ranks of Harlan J. Berk, Ltd. as an antiquities specialist and gradually worked his way into a “jack of all trades” for all aspects of the business. He, along with the help of IT specialist and childhood friend, Pablo Saban, married the internet to the world of ancient coins and antiquities. They were pioneers in the coin business and today the success of the company’s business has much to do with their early work. While Aaron continues to work with Pablo on the IT needs and keeping the company current, he also has taken on the task of heading the World Coin department with longtime employee Laura Wakeland.
Shanna Schmidt (previously Berk) spent her early working years in the advertising business working both domestically and internationally. Nine years ago, Shanna joined Harlan J. Berk Ltd. and partnered with her father as an ancient coins specialist with an emphasis on Greek coins. Shanna’s interest in history led her to complete her master’s degree through the University of Chicago this past June. She studies ancient Greek in her spare time and continues to help grow the business and prides herself on making every one of her customers feel special.
Sammy Berk, the youngest of the Berk children, came on board in 2009. What was thought to be a temporary job has turned into an amazing story. Sammy, who headed up paper money department with expert and longtime employee, Dennis Forgue, helped to create Harlan J. Berk Ltd.’s map department. Sammy’s interest in cartography and geography led to a new synergism between antique maps and the world of coins. Sammy ran the first Chicago International Map Fair in October of 2013 and it was a smashing success. Next year the fair will take place at the LUMA (Loyala University Museum Art) on Michigan Avenue.
The strength of Harlan J. Berk Ltd. comes from all of their employees who have collectively made it what it is today. Bob Greenstein, along with his son, David and Mike Printz have collectively transformed the rare U.S. coin department into a force to be reckoned with. The strength of the U.S. department in the last few years is 100% due to their hard work and dedication. Bob and David also head up the successful bullion department.
Every single one of the employees has made this place great and in the company’s 50th year of business as well those who have not already been mentioned: Curtis Clay (ancient Roman coins), Phillip Davis (Roman Republic and Imperial), Clare Meyer (prints/painting and assistant to the ancient department), Jay Crawford (photographer), Andrew Steiner (photographer), Jim Choy (U.S. coins), and Jennifer Saban (antiquities).
The 189th Buy or Bid Sale celebrates 50 years Harlan J. Berk, Ltd. comprising 349 ancient coins, 40 world coins, antiquities and antique maps.
To learn more about Harlan J. Berk, LTd. and to browse through their services and items offered for sale please go to the company’s website.
You can find an auction preview of the 189th Buy or Bid sale here.