The Kenosha News of Kenosha, WI published an article this week profiling Kenosha native Edward T. Newell. "Profile" is appropriate - he made a lifelong habit of having his portraits taken in only profile.
Last week's question: What native Kenoshan was considered the greatest coin collector of his generation by the American Numismatic Society?
Answer: Edward T. Newell wasn't a name I was familiar with, but then again, I'm not into coin collecting.
Newell certainly was. Coins were his passion.
Newell was the world’s leading expert on the coins of Alexander the Great.
His collection of more than 87,000 coins was considered the largest private collection of Greek coins in the world at the time of his death in 1941.
In his will, he bequeathed this mammoth collection to the American Numismatic Society, the largest single donation ever given to the society.
Bain Wagons source of wealth
Newell was born in the high society of Kenosha in 1886, the second child of Frederick and Frances Newell. Frances was the daughter of Edward Bain, founder of the Bain Wagon Co.
The family drew its wealth from the Bain company, which at the turn of the century was the world's largest manufacturer of wagons.
By the 1890s, Edward and his sister Moyca had traveled with his parents eight times to Europe, and they also visit Egypt. Edward was a quirky kid, even for rich kid standards of the day. By the time he was 10 years old, he knew most of the battlefields of Europe and the battles that were fought on each one. Family memorabilia points to young Edward starting his coin collecting during this time.
Sadly, neither parent lived to see their son's success. Frederick died in 1902, when Edward was 16, and Frances died five years later.
When Frances took the mantle of widowhood, she became one of Wisconsin's wealthiest women. Conservative estimates placed her private fortune at several million dollars.
It was Edward's share of this family fortune that financed his amassing thousands of coins.
Leads the American Numismatic Society
He excelled at his classes at Yale University, and by his sophomore year he had been accepted as a member of the American Numismatic Society. The following year he was named a fellow of the Royal Numismatic Society.
After his ANS membership was confirmed, he visited the society almost weekly for five months and soon published his first numismatic article, "A Survey of the Coinage of Alexander's Successors.” He went on to write many more unpublished manuscripts.
While his fellow students at Yale had their senior portraits taken head-on, Newell had his portrait taken in profile, just like all the great coin images in world history. He continued to have his portrait taken in this manner for the remainder of his life.
To read the complete article, see:
Kenosha man amassed largest private collection of Greek coins
Wayne Homren, Editor
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