Joel Malter’s Leap of Faith

By Michael Malter

Joel Lawrence Malter 1931-2006

Joel Malter loved to collect. It started from an early age and continued until the last days of his life, ending on June 5th, 2006. Inspired by a gifted ancient coin from his Uncle George that he found while stationed in North Africa during WWII, Joel’s life passion was collecting and scholarship. That ancient Roman coin was carefully researched by Joel, opening the door to a fascinating and wondrous life of prosperity, travel, and love of family. His early years were spent in Brooklyn, NY before his father Arthur and mother Kitty decided that a better life awaited them in Southern California. So, in his early teens, Joel and his parents headed west and settled in Los Angeles. He proudly graduated from UCLA with a Master Degree in History, got married to his wife of over 50 years Adele, and before he knew it, he was a full time teacher of History and English at a Los Angeles Junior High School. Soon there were 3 kids, Lisa, Michael and Debbie and the income from L.A.U.S.D. wasn’t enough to manage their household so Joel took a major and really unchartered leap of faith, leaving teaching and starting up an ancient coin business which began in the garage of his Venice, California house.

Joel knew from his research done years earlier on that ancient coin, that books were an essential part of a business based on information and knowledge and hence began his lifelong pursuit which took him all over the world frequenting thousands of book stores and in his later years to numerous websites. Joel’s business started as Joel L. Malter & Co. Inc., later changing to Numismatic Fine Arts Inc., and lastly to Malter Galleries Inc. During more than the 50 years he was in business, his collecting, buying and selling and auctioning encompassed not only ancient coins, but evolved into collectibles from all over the world. In additional to Greek, Roman and Byzantine coins, other areas included Pre-Columbian, Asian, African, Scales and Weights, South Pacific and many other cultures from all across the world. Joel continued to buy books on all of these related cultures that were essential to writing up the auction catalogues which numbered into the hundreds over his professional career. Joel often said, that “no one should collect anything before first buying and reading books on that subject”. A good library was the cornerstone to collecting.

Most of the books being offered herein were used as reference books by Joel and his different firms over the years, many of them being very rare and long since out of print. Joel had a keen eye for quality, whether it was in purchasing coins, Roman glass or books for his large and very comprehensive library. Joel often told me “that no one really owns anything”, he said that “we are just temporary keepers and trustees”. The coins and art that was made thousands of years ago have had many owners. His books too will fare the same. Joel loved his books, which only took a back seat to that of his wife and family. If Joel were alive today, he would only ask that you take as much pride in your newly purchased Joel Malter books as he did whilst they were in his hands.