Dagmar Tietjen (1946-2022)

Dagmar Tietjen (1946-2022).
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It was at a coin fair in Hanover when I first encountered Dagmar Tietjen. For whatever reason, I had travelled to this coin fair alone: rather an inconvenient situation, since I wasn’t really able to leave the stand. Suddenly, Dagmar appeared before me and said resolutely: ‘Right, I’m going to watch your stand for half an hour, so you can go and do whatever you need to do.’ I was so grateful to her! It wasn’t until later that I got to know Dagmar Tietjen better and realised that this spontaneous offer of help was very typical of her: she was always looking out for others. She was helpful, but without any sentimentality. She was also bursting with joie de vivre, and whenever you found yourself discussing a more serious topic with her, you could really sense her rich life experience, the experience of someone who has seen it all: good and bad.

Dagmar Tietjen and Heinrich Winter during the Gala Dinner of the Verband der Deutschen Münzenhändler (Association of German Coin Dealers) in 2015. © Tietjen + Co.

Dagmar Tietjen, née Hugo, was one of the many women in the coin trade whose contributions to the success of a company often go overlooked. She was born in Unna on 13 February 1946, making her a child of the post-war era. At the time, it was very uncommon for women to study at university; an apprenticeship in the book trade, such as the one Dagmar completed, was considered an excellent education for a young woman. She was working in a bookshop in Cologne when she met her future husband, Detlef Tietjen, in 1967. The couple married in 1970, and Dagmar Tietjen did what was typical at the time: she gave up her own career and supported her husband in running his coin dealership in Hamburg, Tietjen + Co. By the time Detlef Tietjen held his first coin auction in the summer of 1969, she was already managing all the administrative work. And she continued to do so for over half a century.

Her son Jan Tietjen once affectionately referred to her as the ‘ZAfaS’, an abbreviation for a joke German job title that translates roughly as ‘Central Contact Point for all B*llsh*t’; on a modern company organisational chart, her position would more likely be honoured with the abbreviation COO. And indeed, she was the Chief Operating Officer, that is, the person who oversaw all administrative and operational processes, who stepped in right away whenever problems arose and found pragmatic solutions for them.

The whole Tietjen family at work: behind the table at the coin fair in Hanover in 2013, we see Detlef Tietjen standing at the very back, Dagmar Tietjen in the middle and their son Jan Tietjen in the foreground. Photo: UK.

Dagmar is part of that great generation of coin dealers’ wives whose important role in the success of their husbands’ businesses is largely underappreciated. While her husband limited himself pretty much to buying, selling and identifying coins (since, after all, he could), Dagmar Tietjen learned how to do the bookkeeping, worked with computers and all the necessary programmes, organised public relations work and regularly represented the Tietjen company both in Germany and abroad, at conventions of the Verband der Deutschen Münzenhändler (Association of German Coin Dealers) and the International Association of Professional Numismatists.

She also manned the phones. If a customer had a query, she would provide them with expert assistance, but she didn’t tolerate any timewasters. She wrote the invoices, organised the shipping and, quite simply, did everything that needed to be done. On top of all that, she raised her son Jan and, after her grandchildren were born, she took on a large share of the childcare, thus taking the pressure off Jan and his wife, both of whom work full time.

However, Dagmar Tietjen’s work should not be reduced to the administration of a coin dealership. She was also an outstanding history expert who gave legendary lectures for the Verein der Münzenfreunde (Association of Coin Enthusiasts) in Hamburg. She didn’t focus on the tiny numismatic details, but rather on the people featured on the coins.

Now, Dagmar Tietjen has died. She passed away unexpectedly, torn from her life without any prior illness. She is survived by her husband Detlef Tietjen, her son Jan Tietjen and his family. We join them in mourning a wonderful woman, whose compassion made her one of the most endearing faces of the coin trade.

The funeral service will be held on 27 April 2022 and attended by her immediate family. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that anyone wishing to commemorate Dagmar Tietjen make a donation to the Foundation of the Children’s Cancer Center Hamburg. Donations should be made via bank transfer to the bank account DE03 2005 0550 1241 1333 11. Please use the reference ‘Dagmar Tietjen’.