J. Eric Engstrom (b. 1943) is a coin collector with various interests. He is a lawyer from Wichita, Kansas. Graduating from the University of Chicago Law School, he began his practice in New York City with Dewey Ballantine and then returned to his hometown after military service. His collector’s life began over 71 years ago with a bag of coins an uncle brought back from World War II. Soon he earned money to buy his first ancient coins. Eric Engstrom also researched coins and medals, wrote books on many numismatic topics, and taught a course on the use of numismatics in archaeology at the Wichita State University.
Eric Engstrom’s interest in numismatics was already considerable as he was an undergraduate at Dartmouth College. With the help of Doran Jones he authored the book “Coins in Shakespeare, a Numismatic Guide”. While he studied at the Balliol College at the University of Oxford, he also studied at the Heberden Coin Room, Ashmolean Museum under Dr. Colin Kraay. Afterwards he served as a general staff officer in Vietnam. During this time he finished his work on the second book “The Medallic Portraits of Sir Winston Churchill”.
Some years later, in 1975, Eric was appointed by President Ford to the United States Assay Commission and co-chaired the committee designing the Kansas Statehood Commemorative Quarter. He continued writing articles and reviews for several publications and donated his definitive collections of William Shakespeare and Sir Winston Churchill portrait and related medals, plaques, coins, and tokens to the Ashmolean. He is a Life Fellow of the American Numismatic Society, a Fellow of the Royal Numismatic Society, and has been a member of the American Numismatic Association for over 64 years.
Through his master’s degree in European History from Wichita State University he taught a course on the use of numismatics in archaeology. Recently, he received the award for outstanding leadership and special support for the arts from the Wichita Arts Council.
Engstrom’s pursuit of ancient coins concluded with the collection being sold in Triton XIX (2016) and subsequent sales. His British coins and medals followed in Triton XX (2017) and later auctions, his Collection of Admiral Nelson Medals was offered in Keystone Auction 7 (2022). Classical Numismatic Group has helped Eric disperse his collection over the past six years. Additional portions of his collection are yet to come for auction.
You can find a short biography with additional information on the Kansas Historical Society website.
This article was first published in a catalogue of auction house Classical Numismatic Group.