On 21 December 2019, American entrepreneur Joseph Segel died at the age of 88. He was the founder of numerous companies, most notably of QVC, an American teleshopping network, but also of The Franklin Mint, a private mint well-known among coin collectors.
Joseph Myron Segel was born on 9 January 1931 in Philadelphia. His entrepreneurial spirit awakened quite early and he founded his first company when he was still in school. Over the course of his life, he founded more than 20 of them. After graduating from the prestigious Wharton School and the University of Pennsylvania, he devoted himself entirely to entrepreneurship and quickly made a name for himself as an ascending, bustling entrepreneur with a good feeling for the business.
The best known and most successful of his companies is the television shopping company QVC (Quality, Value, Convenience). Founded in 1986, it now broadcasts around the globe with sales worth $11.28 billion in 2018 and 21,400 employees in the entire world.
The Business With “Coins”
Segel had already gained experience in the mail order industry before thanks to The Franklin Mint, a private mint he founded in 1964. Segel saw the high demand for silver commemorative coins that could not be met by the state. He started by having coins produced and distributed: First with a company named National Commemorative Society, which distributed collector coins, and then with the newly founded General Numismatics Corporation, which produced coins by itself and was later re-named The Franklin Mint.
He had an immediate success thanks to the diverse and limited commemorative coins. It did not take long for the company to generate millions in sales. He met the demand for numismatic collector products that, in addition to the precious metal content, also contained the promise of an increase in value (even though this rarely happened).
Segel managed to hire Gilroy Roberts, the long-standing chief engraver of the United States Mint, who had created the obverse of the Kennedy half dollar. At The Franklin Mint, he made numerous coins and contributed to the excellent reputation of the company and of its products. During the 70s, the activities of The Franklin Mint also comprised the production of official commemorative coins for countries like Panama.
The company expanded and widened its range of products: The Franklin Mint started to produce and sell porcelain and limited editions of records and books. Critics claim that this expansion had a negative effect on the quality of the products. In the years after 1971, The Franklin Mint tried to establish itself in the market of Western Europe as well.
Nowadays, we hear little about The Franklin Mint. Even though the company still exists, the golden age of the company seems to be over after numerous changes of ownership and the withdrawal from the stock exchange. The Franklin Mint no longer produces its own coins but continues the distribution and sale of whatever people like to collect, including dolls and model cars.
Joseph Segel already resigned as CEO in 1973, long before the company started to struggle in order to dedicate himself to new projects. Among them was, for example, building the luxury hotel Le Mirador in Switzerland, founding a company for the development of colour photos that do not fade, a jet charter service and, as mentioned before, QVC.
On 21 December 2019, Joseph Segel died of heart failure in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania. He is survived by three children, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
As early as in 2002, Segel was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Electronic Retailing Association. You can watch the eulogy and his speech on YouTube.
If you would like to have a look at the website of The Franklin Mint, you may do so here.