Bernard D. Harmer

Bernard D. Harmer 
1914 - 2011

Bernard D. Harmer was a pioneer in the philatelic auction business and a scion of the legendary auction firm established by his father Henry Revell Harmer. He entered the family business during the Depression. Following his volunteer work in the London Fire Service in World War II he moved to the United States and headed up the firm’s New York office for thirty-seven years. During his employment both in London and the  United States, he was involved with major sales of Arthur Hind, Hans Lagerloef, Alfred H. Caspary, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Maurice Burrus, Louis Grunin, John R. Boker, Louise Boyd Dale and Alfred F. Lichtenstein among many other famous properties.

As the Harmer firm continued to expand, Bernard took on additional responsibility for  offices in San Francisco, Australia, and Switzerland. In 1982 he decided to turn the New York operation over to his son Keith and daughter Alison, and returned to England as chairman and managing director of Harmers of London Stamp Auctions Ltd. In 1991, the London business was sold and Bernard retired. In 2004 he returned to the United States to live. Bernard collected a somewhat obscure aspect of Victorian postal stationery so that he would not be seen as competing with his customers. He also collected Barbados, Granada, and SCADTA. He served on the board of governors of the Collectors Club of New York, was an advisor to the Philatelic Foundation’s expert  committee, and was a member of the board of directors of INTERPHIL 76, the international exhibition held in Philadelphia. He was awarded the Philatelic Foundation’s Mortimer Neinken medal in 1990 for meritorious service to philately.

Bernard Harmer’s dapper appearance and keen wit were his trademarks. He was intent on developing strong bonds through personal attention to his major clients, resulting in a level of trust and confidence that brought these collectors back to his firm when it came time to sell, either by private treaty or at auction. Together with his older brother Cyril and other family members, Bernard continued to build the business to become the twentieth century’s bestknown philatelic auction house.

Information courtesy of the APS Hall of Fame Committee.