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Rare Money Blog

American Numismatic Bibliomania

A.M. Smith—A Pioneer of American Numismatic Bibliomania

By Jeremy Bostwick, Senior Numismatist and Cataloger

Author: Jeremy Bostwick / Tuesday, July 07, 2020 / Categories: World Coin of the Week

Born in Denmark in 1841, Andrew Mason (A.M.) Smith led a rather remarkable life even without his contributions to numismatics. After serving with the United States Navy in Brazil, he returned to the United States at the outbreak of the Civil War, serving two enlistments—each of which saw him wounded and honorably discharged; the second saw him cited for his bravery. He then began civilian life in the world of business, first in Salt Lake City, Utah, then in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

It was there, in the city of Brotherly Love, that Smith became fascinated with the U.S. Mint and numismatics. For over a decade, he dedicated a great deal of time and resources to researching and collecting, aiming to acquire specimens of gold and silver coinage not just from the United States, but from around the world and into antiquity as well. His pursuits allowed him to publish such works as History of the U.S. Mint, History of U.S. Coins, A History of Colonial Coins, and Encyclopedia of Gold and Silver Coins of the World, as well as to serve as an editor for Coin Collectors Guide and Illustrated Magazine. During this time, he even became an acquaintance of A. Loudon Snowden, nephew of former mint director James Ross Snowden, who presented him with a rather elusive gift—an 1884 Proof set in copper with all ten types struck, quarter dollar through double eagle. Tremendous rarities in the realm of patterns, this gives an idea to the expanse of Smith's magnificent collection.

Ever the go-getter, Smith later saw the prospects of the burgeoning northwest, moving his family and business to Minneapolis in 1886, where he would operate a delicatessen and liquor store—marketing it rather ingeniously—until prohibition would cause its closure at the beginning of the 1920s. The vast majority of Smith's numismatic collection was consigned by his widow in the mid-1930s to M.H. Bolender, where specimens such as that fabled 1884 copper Proof set were offered. Today, magnificent coins bearing his pedigree continue to cross the auction block, generating a good deal of enthusiasm. Not everything was handled through Bolender, however, as the final three remainders from his collection are featured in our August showcase auction. These three ancient coins survived the Gold Recovery Act, as they were long ago part of a brooch and considered jewelry. Despite this, they nevertheless emanate from a rather important and scholarly collection formed in the early days of the coin collecting hobby in the United States. Gold aurei of Nero (A.D. 54-68), the deified Antoninus Pius (A.D. 139-161), and Lucius Verus (A.D. 161-169) represent the final offerings from this great American collection and can will appeal not only to seasoned veterans of ancient coins but also to collectors of United States material who may be intrigued and want to step outside and into something a bit different. Check out these crossover appeal aurei in our August sale today!

For more information on A.M. Smith's literature, please visit this 1996 exhibit entitled The Challenging Literature of A.M. Smith and hosted by the Numismatic Bibliomania Society's website.

 

To view our upcoming auction schedule and future offerings, please visit StacksBowers.com where you may register and participate in this and other forthcoming sales.

We are always seeking coins, medals, and paper money for our future sales, and are currently accepting submissions for our next Hong Kong auction occurring this October. The consignment deadline for this popular venue is July 17th. Our next CCO (Collectors Choice Online) auction will also be in October, with that consignment deadline being September 8th. If you would like to learn more about consigning, whether a singular item or an entire collection, please contact one of our consignment directors today and we will assist you in achieving the best possible return on your material.

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