by Lutz Neumann-Lysloff
March 13, 2014 – Paul Divo was born in Luxemburg on August 8, 1937. From childhood on, he had an interest in arts, literature and history – a gift received from his parents. As a schoolboy, he cycled to the fields around Luxemburg – where, at that time, you could literally pick up Roman coins from the ground – and spent the evenings cataloguing the found treasures.
When he joined the Luxemburg Numismatic Association, he got acquainted with Romain Probst, who would later become a coin dealer, and the scholar Raymond Weiler – two friendships that would last a lifetime.
After having finished the military service in 1958, he answered an advertisement for a coin dealer at Seaby’s in London, and was accepted. This was the beginning of a versatile numismatic career.
He first worked for noted companies like Seaby’s, Bank Leu and Spink (where he was the business manager of the Zurich branch), before he joined a partnership with the Hess-Divo (formerly Adolph Hess). It is remarkable how he found the time and energy to write all the numerous numismatic articles and books, some of which will remain standard works for generations – besides the numerous auction catalogues published during his working career. Definitely, the wide range of publications mirrors Paul’s great and broad numismatic knowledge.
Among his noteworthy publications are the standard books on Swiss coins, starting from the 17th century, which he wrote in collaboration with Edwin Tobler. Besides, he was interested in coins of modern Greece, Great Britain, and, towards the end of his life, in coins from France and Alsace. Thus, he wrote two books on French medals in collaboration with his wife, Françoise Page-Divo. His knowledge and interest for small, sometimes obscure areas of numismatics remains extremely impressive.
Paul spoke fluent German, French, Luxemburg Dialect, English and Italian, and even learned some Japanese through his job as a business manager for Spink-Taisei – a position that enabled him to conduct several auctions in Tokyo. To the readers of the Swiss magazine Numis-Post he was known as Ovid, who sent monthly letters from Paris reporting about the French numismatic market, museums, personalities and everything that might be of interest to collectors.
Further, Paul was a founding member of the Swiss Professional Association of Coin Dealers (formerly Association of Swiss Coin Dealers) and initiated the O.P. Wenger Prize in 1981. Up until today, the Association awards this prize to remarkable individuals and institutions that have supported the numismatic cause. In 1997, Paul himself received the prize for his many publications and his achievements in the coin trade and the numismatics.
In the same year, he reached a high point of his numismatic career: After having been Secretary and Editor of the Bulletin of the AINP (the International Coin Dealers Association) for 14 respectively 20 years, he was elected President of the organization. An office he held during for 4 years. Above all on July 20, 2005 he received an order of merit from the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg, which bestowed him the title of “Officier de l’Ordre de Mérite du Grande Duché de Luxembourg”.
His death is a painful loss for all the coin dealers and the many collectors who knew him. The scene around the Zurich auctions and the numismatic association will never be the same again as back in the days when Paul sat in the auction room or gave a fascinating lecture at a numismatic gathering.
Paul leaves his wife, Françoise Page-Divo, his daughters, Juliet and Karin, his son Mark with granddaughter, Lumi, to whom we extend our deepest sympathy and condolences.
His colleagues will always keep him in honourable memory.