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Rail Splinters

In Memoriam: Rex Stark (1947-2023)

December 14, 2023

Rexford Addison Stark, preeminent dealer in historic Americana, passed away Thursday, December 14, 2023, after a prolonged and heroic bout with kidney cancer and lymphoma. Rex amassed the finest collection of political china in the country, reflective of his exquisite taste in decorative art. He was a fixture at political memorabilia conventions, as well as coin, antique and militaria shows. He regularly attended Antiques Week in New Hampshire, ANA Conventions, the FUN Show in Orlando, the Ceramic Fair in London as well as many Civil War and Western shows. He was a keen competitor. If something good came up for auction, chances are Rex would be “on it”.

I first met Rex in 1975 when we both lived in Los Angeles. He initially planned to go into law enforcement and become an F.B.I. agent. He then moved to the Boston area and served a brief apprenticeship with a Framingham mail auctioneer before striking out on his own. He initially issued mail auction catalogs which morphed into his familiar illustrated fixed price lists, typically issued every six months or so. The material offered ran the gamut, including political, military, exonumia, Western, historic medals, social causes, etc. Books, autographs and manuscripts were generally not offered. When setting up at a political show, his showcases would take up six or eight tables, filled with interesting and choice collectibles, with a constantly changing inventory. He did this on his own, without any assistance, often driving long distances. After the initial rush of clients, he was often seen taking a snooze, his trademark reading glasses perched on his head. His broad knowledge of antiques and a strong work ethic assured a long and successful career or, as Rex would comment, dryly, “I manage to eke out a meager living.”

Despite a dire prognosis, Rex stayed the course and didn’t alter his normal routine, buying stuff to the last minute, working on his next FUN Coin Show catalog. His whole life was the antique business… that was his “life blood”. He made many friends along the way and supplied many collectors with some of the treasures they sought. His effect on the hobby was profound… his absence leaves a big void. He will be remembered fondly by all those who crossed his path. He is survived by his wife Patti and two step-daughters. [D.A.]