Michael I. Casper
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Michael Casper was given his first silver dollar in the late 1950s when a family friend returned from Las Vegas with a pocketful of dollars that he won from hitting a small jackpot from one of the infamous, and now defunct, original "one-armed-bandits".

Over the years, Michael filled the holes in many an album with pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters and half-dollars. It wasn't until 1978 that Michael, a collector at heart, traded his antique Colt and Remington cap and ball revolvers for a small collection of Morgan Silver Dollars. With the acquisition of his first Morgans, Michael was off and running.

By 1979, Michael was attending every major coin show in the United States. Always accompanying him were his now dog-eared, first edition copies of An Analysis of Morgan and Peace Dollars by Wayne Miller and Morgan & Peace Silver Dollars, The Comprehensive Catalogue and Encyclopedia of U.S. Morgan and Peace Silver Dollars by Leroy Van Allen and A.George Mallis.

In the early '80s, Michael opened a coin store, Center Rare Coins, on West 47th Street in New York City, smack dab in the heart of Manhattan's famed Diamond District. What a perfect location in which to specialize in Morgan Silver Dollars, gold and silver bullion and investment grade diamonds!!

Sometime in mid-1983, while attending what would turn out to be his last coin show for a while, most of Michael's inventory was bought out. Michael viewed that sale as a monetary opportunity to pursue another lifelong interest . . . professional photography. Little did he know that this decision would wind up taking him to all corners of the globe. As a photographer, he worked for Conde Nast Italy (Vogue magazine) in Milano, Gulf & Western Hotels in the Dominican Republic and for every major advertising agency.

By 1985, MIKE CASPER PRODUCTIONS had photography studios in New York City, Miami, Florida and Milano, Italy. He then found a new love . . . downhill skiing. Michael decided to become a ski tour leader for the Scandinavian Ski Shop on West 57th Street in New York City. He would take one to two busloads of skiers to Vermont for weekend ski trips, leaving mid-afternoon on Friday and returning late Sunday night. It was on one of these ski trips in 1986 that Michael just didn't get back on the bus on Sunday! Shortly thereafter, he got married and had two sons, one in 1987 and the other in 1989. After the hectic pace of previous years, Michael was content to raise his young family deep in the woods of Vermont, where the deer and the antelope play (oops, that's not right - no antelope in Vermont) . . . anyway, where the deer play.

In 1995, as the boys were getting older, Michael moved to Ithaca, New York, a small country town where Michael had attended school back in 1966. He opened a small, European-style café in Ithaca's Collegetown, adjacent to Cornell University. After eight months of dealing with hard-to-please college students on a day-in-day-out basis, Michael was ready to call it quits.

One evening, while reading a magazine called Lapidary Journal and entertaining the idea of doing something with semi-precious beads, Michael happened upon an advertisement for the sale of meteorites. Michael remembers thinking that he believed every meteorite in the world was in the Hayden Planetarium in New York City, which he used to visit with his Aunt Irene when he was a little boy. Intrigued, he picked up the phone and called for more information. He was surprised to learn that the gentleman who placed the ad and who was located in New Jersey, had meteorites for sale in his home.

Michael emptied the cash register, locked the door of the café, got into his truck, drove to New Jersey and returned to Ithaca with a thousand dollars worth of meteorites in a shoebox. The following day, he emptied the bank account, went back to New Jersey and came home with a pickup truck full of meteorites! Upon returning home, his wife Cathi knew that he had finally lost his mind!

With his experience as an advertising photographer to draw upon, Michael took out advertisements in astronomy magazines, rock and gem magazines and even The Numismatist! He started attending rock, gem and mineral shows from coast-to-coast throughout the United States. By 1997, after two years and over 250,000 miles behind the wheel of several pickup trucks (which he called "home"), Michael woke up one morning to discover that he had become the largest METEORITE DEALER in the world. Annual sales were in excess of $1 million.

In addition to selling meteorites, Michael was appointed curator of the meteorite collection at Cornell University and became an appraiser of meteorites for the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

In late 1996, Michael was quite surprised to run across an old acquaintance whose name is synonymous with numismatics and who had also been collecting meteorites: Q. David Bowers. Michael met with Dave at his office in Wolfboro, New Hampshire in 1997 and, as a full-time meteorite dealer, Michael assisted Dave with the sale of a good portion of his meteorite collection. The remainder of the Bowers Meteorite Collection now resides at Harvard University.

In July of 2000, Michael sold 90% of his meteorite inventory and his meteorite website for several million dollars. Within two weeks of this sale, he was back with an old love . . . Morgan Silver Dollars.



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