Bruce Smith submitted these notes on Howard Gibbs.
A couple weeks ago there was a reference to Howard D. Gibbs and a couple readers said they knew him. I would like to know what Gibbs did for a living, or if he was wealthy, where did his money come from?
I understand he was a labor negotiator for coal companies.
I can add a few details about him. According to club reports in The Numismatist, Gibbs had a son named Howard Jr. Junior joined the Pittsburgh Coin Club in 1930 or 1931, but he isn't mentioned for very long. I suspect Junior didn't catch the numismatic bug.
Hans Schulman's biography of Gibbs in the first of the four Gibbs sales (October 1970 - including a photo of Gibbs in front of his vault), says he began collecting at age 7 in 1902. By 1930 Gibbs was already actively collecting cut and counterstamped coins and odd & curious currency, reportedly since about 1910 (he would have been 15 then).
Schulman says Gibbs bought the Eklund collection of copper coins, making Gibbs' collection of copper coins larger than that of Neumann (who authored a multi-volume catalog of copper coins in the 1800's). I suspect Gibbs may have had first pick, but I have heard others claim to have bought parts of the Eklund copper collection. Among these was Howard F. Bowker, who bought Eklund's cash coins.
Gibbs joined the ANA in 1917, and contributed several articles to The Numismatist, mostly on odd and curious currency, beginning in 1919. In the 1930's, Gibbs obtained an example of the Yap Island stone money by claiming to represent the Pittsburgh Numismatic Museum -- the address of which was his own home. He contacted Pennsylvania Senator David A. Reed, the senator contacted the Japanese ambassador in Washington (Yap Island was then under the control of the Japanese), and Gibbs was sent an example of the stone money -- at the expense of the Japanese Foreign Office!
There is a chapter titled "Howard Gibbs and Yap Money" in the book, "The Stone Money of Yap" by Cora Lee C. Gilliland (Smithsonian Studies in History & Technology #23, 1975).
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
MORE ON HOWARD GIBBS, "THE DUDE ON THE CAMEL"
Wayne Homren, Editor
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