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Wacks, Mel


Born in the Bronx, New York. Graduated with Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from City College of New York in 1959. Received Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from New York University in 1962. Married Esther Saperstein in 1963 with two daughters. Employed as an electrical engineer 1959 to 1972.

Founding Director of the Jewish-American Hall of Fame producing annual art medals since 1959. He designed the Ellie Wiesel reverse (1995), Houdini reverse (1996) and 40th Anniversary of the Jewish-American Hall of Fame reverse (2009). Board member of American Medallic Sculpture Association (AMSA) and chaired committee to choose winner of American Medal of the Year (AMY) Award. Chair of committee to select the American Numismatic Association Numismatic Art Award for Excellence in Medallic Sculpture 2006 to 2016.

Member of the ANA for more than 50 years; he received an ANA Presidential Award in 2009; Fellow of the American Numismatic Society; member of the Numismatic Literary Guild. President of the American Israel Numismatic Association after 2002 and Editor-in-Chief of The Shekel. Author of more than 100 articles in numismatic publications. Named a Numismatic Ambassador in 2021. He received an ANA Glenn Smedley Memorial Award in 2022.

Creator of Handbook of Biblical Numismatics on He has produced two dozen counterstamped coins from 1976 to 2016 that can be seen on

bio by correspondence 2017


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    Jewish-American Hall Of Fame Medals, 1969-2019 10/19/2018

    Jewish-American Hall Of Fame Medals, 1969-2019

    Catalog including biographical information, medal back stories, mintages and specifications of medals issued by the Jewish-American Hall of Fame on an annual basis.

    Handbook of Biblical Numismatics, 45th Anniversary Edition 6/5/2021

    Handbook of Biblical Numismatics, 45th Anniversary Edition

    This Handbook is just what it sets out to be, and what is needed in the field of Jewish Coinage. Mel Wacks has contributed mightily to this field. And this Handbook - replacing his first version with an entirely new revision - is among his most important gifts. Somehow, Mel has managed to provide a work that is succinct without being superficial; that summarizes all the important material rather than limiting coverage through exclusion; and that simplifies complicated issues without compromising their difficulties.

    In pulling off this achievement, Mel has provided a practical, take-along, guide. Every important period is covered, and every significant coin type illustrated. Rather than attempting to supersede other types of books, Mel gives us all - collectors, scholars, and intelligent observers alike - something to use anywhere to identify coin types and context, read inscriptions, and even have some idea of value.

    Even a novice will be able quickly to learn and appreciate this aspect of Jewish history, and the history of other cultures with whom the Jewish People have interacted. The Handbook is thus a must have for the tutored and beginner alike.

    Hon. Abraham Sofaer
    George P. Shultz Distinguished Scholar and Senior Fellow Emeritus, The Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

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