The E-Sylum:  Volume 9, Number 47, November 19, 2006, Article 11


John Kraljevich writes: "I bought a very cool catalog in Charlie
Davis' last sale -- a priced and named copy of the Fewsmith sale
that belonged to Alexander Balmanno. Balmanno was apparently a
pretty important collector (I believe there are four or so
Attinelli-listed sales with his name on them), but little seems
to be known about him today. I wonder if more of his library survives
or if this is a singleton?"

[Do any of our readers have ex-Balmanno items in their numismatic
libraries?  Or know of such items offered in earlier literature
sales?  I asked George Kolbe, who found but one reference to Balmanno
in his sales - lot 284 in sale #91.  Balmanno's 1884 pencil autograph
is on a leaf preceding the title of a 1746 work by Thomas, Earl of
Pembrooke, ex libris American Numismatic Society.

A quick web search turned up a number of facts on Balmanno.  The
American Numismatic Society web site notes that he served as First
Vice President of the ANS 1879-80, but the real trove of data lies
in his obituary from the Brooklyn Eagle, January 20, 1902:

"Alexander Balmanno, one of the best known antiquarians in Brooklyn,
died yesterday at his late home, 184 Fourteenth street, in the
seventy-second year of his age. He was born in Geneva, this state,
but spent the greater part of his life in Brooklyn and being a
builder and contractor was largely instrumental in developing the
section of South Brooklyn which he always made his home.

He was of distinguished Scottish descent, his father, Robert Balmanno,
being a noted Scottish historian and the friend of Lamb and Hood,
while his mother, Mary Balmanno, was a gifted Scottish writer, the
author of “Shakespeare’s Heroines” and “Evenings With Lamb and Hood.”

Mr. Balmanno was one of the founders and long an honorary member of
the American Numismatic and Archaeological Society and it is said
that his collection of Greek and Roman coins was the most valuable
ever gotten together in this country. It was purchased by the British
Museum. He was also a studious collector of Long Island Indian relics
and curiosities and his opinions in the general field of numismatics
and archaeology were regarded as of the highest authority.

At the outbreak of the Civil War Mr. Balmanno enlisted in the
Seventy-first Regiment and served with distinguished bravery. He
was also in his younger days assistant foreman of Engine No. 22 in
the Volunteer Fire Department.

His social affiliations were mainly with his Scottish compatriots
and he was chief of the Caledonian Club and a member of the Clan
MacDonald of the Scottish clans.

Mr. Balmanno was a remarkably well preserved man and up to recently
was very fond of outdoor sports, having just completed a fine yacht.
He leaves a widow and seven grown children, four sons and three
daughters. The funeral will be private."
Balmanno Obit.pdf

Although the obituary states Balmanno was a founder of the ANAS, his
name does not appear in the index of Howard Adelson's centennial
history, "The American Numismatic Society 1858-1958", and in reviewing
the first few chapters I could not locate his name.  I contacted the
ANS for more information - see below. Balmanno was not a founder of
the ANS as his obituary states, but was indeed quite involved in the
early days. -Editor]

ANS Archivist Joe Ciccone writes: "I’ve had a chance to check the
records here in the Archives. While we do not have additional
biographical information, such as is contained in Balmanno’s obituary,
we do have a good bit of information on his role with the ANS.
In brief:

Balmanno joined the ANS in December 1874 and remained a member until
his death in 1902. From 1876-1880 he served as an ANS vice president,
initially  as Third Vice President from 1876-1879 and then as First
Vice President from 1879-1880. (At the time, one’s ranking as either
First, Second or Third Vice President was determined based on the
number of votes one received, with the person who received the most
votes being named First Vice President, and so forth.)

While serving as a vice president from 1876-1880, Balmanno also
served on the ANS Executive Committee, which was the forerunner to
the ANS Council and today’s Board of Trustees.

Balmanno read a number of papers at membership meetings. The first
such paper appears to be “The Coins in the Castillani Collection.”
This actually became one of the first such papers that the ANS
published. (This was before the ANS began publishing its Annual

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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