Upon graduating from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1953, Joel enlisted in the United States Air Force. He immediately was stationed in England and later in Tripoli, Libya. Just as quickly Joel earned the rank of Captain and was joined in England by his new bride Adele. It was during his duty in England in 1954 that his first child Lisa was born. After serving proudly while abroad, Joel and his new family returned to Los Angeles where he began his teaching profession as a history and English instructor at Webster Junior High in Los Angeles, California. It was during this time that he received a gift from his Uncle George in New York that changed his life. The gift was an ancient Greek silver coin that George had found in the North African desert while on active duty during World War II. Captain Malter's service abroad greatly heightened his quest for learning more about this very old coin. He soon found himself going to the local libraries in his thirst for more knowledge about this and other ancient coins. Joel's research paid off as the coin that was gifted was over 2000 years old and was from the Ptolemaic Dynasty in Ancient Egypt. It was actually a silver tetradrachm of Ptolemy I, Soter, 305-283 B.C.
Joel was now hooked on finding more ancient coins to collect, research and use in school to help educate his students. His strong passion for learning as much as he could about ancient coins and then teaching what he had learned to his students made his ancient history class one of the most sought after courses in the entire school. In a matter of a few years, ancient coins had consumed his teaching duties and had steered him towards a new and unchartered career. He quit his teaching job in 1961 and began a full time adventure as a classical numismatist. At the time of this move there were only a handful of individuals in the entire United States that could call themselves full time ancient coin dealers. As of early 2007 there are far more that one hundred and perhaps double or even triple that amount of ancient coin firms selling mostly via the internet, a method of selling ancient coins that was first started by Joel's firm in the early 1990s. Joel's auction catalogues, articles that were written in COINage Magazine back in the 1970s and 1980s and various other scholarily works on ancient coins, antiquities and collecting are much sought after and respected by collectors and worldwide dealers alike.
He began his small one man business out of the garage of his Venice, California home and soon started to realize profits that were not reachable at that time in the teaching profession. His daring move had paid off. The 1960s and 1970s saw his small business turn into one of the most successful ancient coin dealerships in the world. In 1978, upon his graduation from California State University Northridge, his son Michael Malter joined the now family business. Ancient coins and related antiquities were now being bought and sold and auctioned worldwide from a the prominent Ventura Boulevard, Los Angeles address. Joel continued his family business with his daughter Debbie Poe now joining Joel L. Malter Inc. in the late 1980s.
During his lifetime Joel's collecting interests changed and diversified to include fine coins and collectibles from all over the world. He also assembled one of the finest numismatic and art libraries that rivaled many university collections. On June 4 and 5th of 2006 Joel's prized numismatic library was sold via a public and internet auction at his California home. The auction saw many of his friends and colleagues from around the United States and abroad attend. The first day of the auction included the better portion of his library and the prices realized went through the roof. No one including Joel had ever expected to see these books sell for such high values. Joel went to bed a happy man that night only to pass away hours before the second session of his auction, which was to be held later that morning.
Today his son Michael along with his associate Kelly Ramage continue the "family" business with pride and hard earned respect.