Born in (Ludz, Russia) Lithuania. He came to America in 1893. Married to Ethel Rosen August 18, 1907. Their two daughters attended early ANA conventions with them. Member of Masons. As a teenager he worked in a shoe store.
Mehl began to run ads in The Numismatist in December 1903. At about the same time he began to issue fixed price lists. In January 1908 he began publication of Mehl's Numismatic Monthly. At the 1914 ANA convention he exhibited private gold coins, some choice cents, and five silver Indian Peace medals. He conducted 120 auction sales with 184,814 lots from 1903 to 1955. His fixed price list number 77 was dated 1953. As many as 15,000 copies were printed of several of these lists. A special fixed price list was issued for the sale of the French collection of large cents about 1930. He published The Star Rare Coin Encyclopedia and Premium Catalog.
His Star Rare Coin Book had a circulation of 70,000 copies a year in the 1920's. In 1928 he had 275,000 mail inquiries and made 30,000 shipments. He had about 40 employees. He advertised extensively in periodicals and later on the radio. He advertised that he would pay fifty dollars for a 1913 Liberty Head Nickel. At the peak of his career he spent $100,000 a year on advertising.
On April 24, 1933, three armed men robbed Mehl in his office. They took a diamond ring, a few coins and a small amount of cash.
A dealer could establish a reputation based on handling one 1804 dollar during his career. Mehl handled many of the important collections sold during the time he was in business. The 1804 dollars show up in several of the collections he sold.
He handled the following transactions:
James A. Manning sale May 17, 1921 lot 778 @ $2500 to Sears.
James Ten Eyck sale of May 2, 1922 lot 394 @ $840 to Lamont Dupont.
Elmer Sears to Lamont Dupont in 1922 for $3200.
William F. Dunham sale June 3, 1941 @ $4250 to C. H. Williams.
William C. Atwater sale June 11, 1946 lot 213 @ $10,500 to Eliasberg.
William C. Atwater sale June 11, 1946 lot 214 @ $2875 to Will Neil.
Will Neil sale of June 17, 1947 lot 31 @ $3125 to Edwin Hydeman.
Percy A. Smith sale of May 23, 1950 lot 804 @ $3250 to Amon Carter.
Author of The Commemorative Coins of the United States in 1937. In 1949 he and his wife attended their 35th ANA convention. He had advertised in 603 consecutive issues of The Numismatist. That translates to more than 50 years. He died at home in Fort Worth, Texas. In 1974 he was elected to the ANA Numismatic Hall of Fame. In 2010 he was inducted into the PCGS CoinFacts Coin Dealer Hall of Fame.
The firm continued to advertise after his death. It was announced that the retail operation would close but that business would still be done by mail. The Mehl trade name was sold for $25,000 to George Justus. The name was used by a company that moved operations to Costa Mesa, California. The manager was Kenneth L. Nichols.
Mary Ellen Ferguson served as executive secretary for Mehl for over 40 years. She formed a dealership in Forth Worth and advertised her former association with Mehl. She died November 13, 1961, in a Fort Worth hospital.
In July 1966 the B. Max Mehl company placed their 703rd consecutive ad in The Numismatist. That represented 100 monthly ads after the death of Mehl. Then the ads were dropped without explanation.
bio: Adams II (photo); NUM/NIN 4/97
photo: NUM 63 Sep 1950 page 627;
obit: NUM 70 Nov 1957 pages 1304-1306 (photo); ANAHist 869