Lewis Tauber, long-time columnist for both CSN and Canadian Coin News, died suddenly from a heart attack this August. He was 88.
Two days after Tauber’s death on Aug. 3, a graveside funeral took place at Anshe Sholom Cemetery in Hamilton, Ont., where the fun-loving philatelist and noted numismatist lived since moving to Canada from the U.S. in the mid-1960s.
“Everything happened so fast so I’m still in shock, but collecting was such a big part of his life,” Tauber’s wife, Lori Dessau, told CSN.
Born in New York on July 1, 1931, Tauber lived in many cities across the state throughout his childhood, when his father worked as a research chemist.
By the late-1950s, Tauber was pursuing a four-year doctorate from Indiana’s Purdue University in clinical psychology, which he followed with a two-year post-doctorate internship at the Menninger Clinic in Kansas. Upon completing his internship in the mid-1960s, he moved to Hamilton.
“He liked living here very much,” said Dessau, who added Tauber worked as an academic psychologist at McMaster University as well as a clinical psychologist at the Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital, which was known as the Ontario Hospital before 1968 (and as the Hamilton Asylum for the Insane earlier).
Although he collected both stamps and coins for most of his life, Tauber also maintained a private practice of counselling and psychotherapy throughout his career, which commanded much of his attention before retirement.
“He started stamp collecting as a child because his father was a stamp collector,” Dessau said, adding Tauber “collected the world,” with his latest interest – and final pitch to CSN – being a column on iconic Winnipeg-based dealer Kasimir Bileski.
With many of Canada’s philatelic rarities going through Bileski’s hands before his death in 2005, he’s perhaps best known for quickly acquiring more than two-dozen “Seaway Invert” errors (Scott #387a) after their discovery in Winnipeg in 1959.
“Lew had a lot of Bileski items, and because of him, he got completely into Liberia as a specialized collection,” Dessau said, adding Tauber also had collections of Hungary, Great Britain, Canada and other countries – including first-day covers – with “anything of artistic interest” a focus of his topical stamp collecting.
Tying in with his artistic flair, Tauber later began producing philatelic collages, covers and “mail art.”
“It started when we were on cruises and he wanted to document his trip. There would be post offices in every port of call, and he would ask for circular datestamp on every cover and wrote a little article about that as a way to document a trip.”
From there, Tauber moved beyond philatelic collages documenting cruises and “fell into the art and design side of it,” Dessau said.
“His collages are fascinating. People said they’re like Rorschach tests because everyone always saw something different,” she added, of the Rorschach inkblots used to analyze psychological interpretation – a reflection of his career in clinical psychology.
While in California, Tauber also met a group of mail art collectors and joined their ranks before curating the International Artistamp/Mail Art Exhibition show at the Art Gallery of Hamilton in 2001.
Around the same time, he was gradually becoming interested in research and writing, but it wasn’t until he retired – in 1991 from the hospital and 2005 from his private practice – that he could “completely enter into the world of stamps and coins,” Dessau said.
“He started writing in about 2001 – so almost 20 years – and he loved it,” she added.
“He was a passionate collector of coins and stamps but also books and art.”
Through his writing, Tauber “wanted to encourage people to have fun with the hobby and see beyond its material value. He liked the human-interest aspect of coming across a fascinating piece, researching it and seeing where it would lead him.”
Indeed, collecting would lead him into “fascinating areas of human interest,” she added.
“He was always a psychologist and always got a lot of pleasure out of the human-interest side of the hobby – what he could learn about the topic and what people it would connect him to.”
CSN Editor Mike Walsh said he “always admired the fun approach Lew took with his columns. He always looked for a fun way to tell his story, which always made for enjoyable and informative reading.”
“Lew and his columns will be sorely missed by Trajan and, no doubt, our readers.”