The Joys of Collecting column from the Jan. 9, 2017, weekly issue
from day one of my interest in coin collecting I have found numismatic
history to be one of my favorite specialties. I have written a lot on
this since 1961, when this column first appeared. As you read these
words I am about to send the manuscript for my latest book off to
Whitman: The History of Coin Collecting in America. It
incorporates a lot of information I did not use in earlier books and articles.
a long time I have been tracking down information on early museums.
The first, the American Museum, was established by Pierre Eugène Du
Simitière shortly after the Revolution, and contained no fewer than
nine Massachusetts silver coins and seven Higley coppers! Dr. Joel
Orosz wrote a book about Du Simitière.
obscure and probably unpublished — I had never heard of it until in
recent times — the North Carolina Museum in Raleigh, which was opened
in 1818 by Jacob Marling, a talented artist, either had a display of
coins or wanted one — as advertisements stated that any donors of such
would be recognized. So far I have found little else, other than that,
a few years later, the premises were occupied by a church.
Kunze Cabinet of Coins and Medals formed by Rev. John Christopher
Kunze was donated to the New-York Historical Society by his heirs on
July 14, 1818. It was featured for a while, then was stolen. Exactly
what it contained and where the pieces are today is unknown.
best-documented early public display was at the New York State
Library, which in 1856 published a detailed catalog. P.T. Barnum’s
American Museum in New York City consistently advertised coins and
medals, but no listing has been found.
the new book is a section on the famous 1804 dollar. Correspondence by
William E. DuBois, co-curator of the Mint Cabinet, reveals that on
July 12, 1843, Matthew A. Stickney of Salem, Mass., was sent a Class I
1804 dollar for which he had negotiated a trade during a Mint visit on
May 9. This was traded in part for a 1785 Immune Columbia coin struck
over a 1775 British gold sovereign, some Massachusetts silver coins,
and some other pieces.
later, by 1864, Stickney owned or had available another 1804 dollar,
probably a newly minted Class II piece, that he offered to George
Seavy. The first detailed showcasing of the 1804 dollar as a great
rarity seems to have been done by W.C. Prime in Coins, Medals, and
Seals, 1861, although it had been mentioned in 1858 by Joseph Mickley.
like 1804 dollars and in 1999 wrote a book about them. (Thanks to
Charles Davis for recent correspondence on this.)
you have unpublished information on obscure early collections you can
to me. I can also use inventories of coins owned or exhibited by
museums and colleges prior to 1861 that had American coins (except for
the New York State Libruary) But hurry. The deadline is close.