The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 16, Number 41, October 6, 2013, Article 14


Last week John Lupia presented a new theory on the identities of the Philadelphia coin dealers A. C. Kline and John W. Kline. Here are additional thoughts from E-Sylum readers. -Editor

Joel Orosz writes:

I was delighted to read that John N. Lupia III has tackled the question of whether John W. Kline and A.C. Kline were--in terms of numismatic business, at least--one and the same person. Kudos to Prof. Lupia for proving what was previously a statement by Emmanuel Joseph Attinelli, that John W. Kline's wife was A.C. Kline. One mystery finally--and definitively--solved!

Next to chime in was genealogical researcher Kay Olson Freeman. See writes:

  • Adelia C. Kline was John W. Kline's wife's - thus she is "A.C. Kline."
  • Adelia C. was born @ 1825 in Philadelphia.
  • She died Sept. 21, 1899, age 74, at the Presbyterian Home. She was a widow.
  • She is "Adelia C. Kline" on her death cert and newspaper notice and census.
  • Adelia C. and John W. Kline were married in the 1860 Census.
  • In 1860, Adelia and John were residing with those who could be her parents - and they are all buried together in the same plot, Woodlands Cemetery. Adelia C. was probably/ possibly? the daughter of:
      Father: Urban Lynch (b.1804, Phila. - d. Nov. 25, 1879, Phila, age 75). Urban Lynch was a cabinetmaker.
    • Mother: Isabella C. Lynch (b. 1804, Phila - d. Feb. 14, 1874, Phila, age 70). Funeral Old Pine St. (Presbyterian) Church.
  • It is notable that the Lynch residence was 406 Prune - which became 406 Locust when Philadelphia changed names of streets.
  • 406 Prune/Locust was also the address of "A.C. Kline" and John W. Kline.
  • John William Kline is very difficult to find in US Census - sometimes name is William Cline.
  • And perhaps Urban and Isabella C. Lynch were associated with Kline in some other way.
  • 1881 to @1884, JW Kline is supervising Wanamaker's reproduction antique furniture dept.
  • JW Kline's last address in 1892: Curiosities, 31 South 17th St. Home: 2585 Columbia Ave. [now Cecil B. Moore Ave.]
  • JW Kline's April 6, 1892 death record (age 70) gives his occupation as "clerk." He is married.
  • JW Kline's April 1892 funeral was said to be at cousin's home 1010 North 5th St. That is address of Kline's undertaker, Samuel W. Kehr. Was Kehr (b. @ 1837, PA), Kline's cousin too?
  • Sept. 21, 1893, there was a sale of JW Kline's books and engravings by Davis & Harvey, Philadelphia.

Joel Orosz writes:

This is very useful information, proving once and for all that "A.C. Kline" fits the name of John W. Kline's wife. It is also significant that Adelia's parents lived at 406 Prune/Locust--it may suggest that the Klines' enterprises were not terribly lucrative--so they lived with her parents.

John Lupia had some new doubts about Mrs. A. C. Kline being the wife of John W. Kline, but this was based on an earlier email from Kay which had an incorrect date of birth for her father. -Editor

John Lupia writes:

The point I was making is that the 1855 coin auction of A. C. Kline was in no way John W. Kline or his wife A. C. Kline.

I was trying to find another A. C. Kline, the real one, to identify as the owner of the coins at auction in 1855, also the store owner in 1857 and philatelic and numismatic publisher in 1860, which seemed to me to be one person. The only one I could find was the one I cited aged 79.

So if this 79 year old A. C. Kline was not the owner of the auction in 1855 and had a curio shop in 1857 and published widely in 1860 then who was he? He is cited in the directory as someone different than J. William Kline. There obviously must be another A. C. Kline, a man living in Philadelphia during the 1850's through 1860's who started the business whom John W. Kline was related to, as the documents suggest.

Joel Orosz writes:

Given the evidence presented in Prof. Lupia's Encyclopedic Dictionary of Numismatic Biographies, I respectfully disagree, however, with his thesis that there was in Philadelphia contemporaneously with John W. Kline and his wife A.C. Kline another A.C. Kline, John W.'s uncle (1791-1870?), who was responsible for creating and selling the Kline collection auctioned in Philadelphia on June 12-13, 1855; starting a coin dealership ca. 1857; publishing the first (plagiarized) philatelic catalog in the U.S; reprinting a number of numismatic works during the 1860s, and whose identity John W. Kline expropriated about 1870 to make John W. appear more numismatically important than he really was.

Prof. Lupia bases his theory upon the following: "In McElroy's Philadelphia Directory for 1861, there are two listings: A.C. Kline: Stationery, etc. 824 Walnut. H. 406 Prune; and J. William Kline: Periodicals, 406 Prune, clearly revealing that these are two different men and that J.W. Kline is a relative of A.C. Kline, most probably his nephew."

I agree that this is one potentially valid interpretation of the data from McElroy's. Another potentially valid interpretation is that A.C. Kline was John W. Kline's wife, and that the couple owned two businesses, one located at 824 Walnut, and the other run from their home at 406 Prune. There are other potentially valid interpretations of this data, as well.

Prof. Lupia goes on to say that "On October 19, 1870, the John W. Kline collection of 377 lots was sold at Bangs, Merwin & Co., New York. This appears to be the time when John W. Kline took over his uncle's business and had his wife go by the same initials A. C. Kline as though he were the company founder and publisher from the beginning."

The first mention of the Kline collection sale of June 1855 in a numismatic journal, in the October, 1868 issue of The American Journal of Numismatics, written by the (then) Philadelphia numismatist J.N.T Levick, referred to it as the "....John W. Kline (believed by most to be A.C. Kline) Sale in 1855..." (p. 47). This might be read more than one way, but in the table accompanying Levick's article, the first entry is: "Kline, Jno. W., Phila. (known as the A.C. Kline sale)." Quite clearly, Levick believed that John W. Kline was the creator and seller of the 1855 Kline collection. And Levick wrote this two years before Prof. Lupia says that John W. Kline began to claim credit for A.C. Kline's work.

In 1876, in Numisgraphics, Emmanuel Joseph Attinelli--as Prof. Lupia notes--provided a short biography of John W. Kline on p. 60. Attinelli stated: "Old coins and medals naturally attracted his attention, and his well known cabinet was sold in June 1855. Since that time he has been interested in quite a number of sales, some of them (in consequence, probably of pecuniary troubles), under the name of his wife Mrs. A. C. Kline."

The December 1880 issue of Mason's Coin Collectors Herald contained, on p. 22, the punning headline: "Coin Business Declined." The text underneath read: "A.C. Kline, who with Edward Cogan and E. Mason, Jr. formed the three coin dealers in 1860, in this city, has stepped 'down and out' and his well known shop on 13th Street is closed. Alas for "Wm. John," alias A.C.K.," who might have been at the head and front, if--concluded in our next." The next issue was March 1881, and Mason said not a word in it about Kline. However, it is worth noting that Mason referred to Kline as "A.C. Kline" in 1880, ten years after Prof. Lupia estimates that "Uncle A.C. Kline" died.

When S. H. and Henry Chapman sold The Stock of Postage Stamps of the Late John W. Kline, April 13-14, 1896, They began by saying "The late John W. Kline was one of the first dealers in postage stamps in America...."

Both Levick and Mason were active participants in the Philadelphia coin and stamp scene, as avid collectors from the mid-1850s, and in Mason's case, as a dealer starting in 1860. Both clearly believed that John W. Kline owned the 1855 Kline collection, and was a coin dealer active as early as 1860. Neither mentioned another man named A. C. Kline in these connections. Mason does mention A.C. Kline--but only as John W.'s alias--or more politely, as John W.'s trade style.

Attinelli and the Chapman Brothers were not in a position to personally know the Philadelphia coin and stamp scene of the 1850s and early 1860s, but Attinelli was correct about the identity of John W.'s wife, and neither Attinelli nor the Chapmans said anything inconsistent with the men who were on the spot at the time, Levick and Mason.

It is always possible, of course, that Prof. Lupia, or another researcher, will find compelling evidence that contradicts these accounts, but, as the evidence now stands, the testimony of those who were there indicates that John W. Kline and A.C. Kline were both trade styles for John W. Kline, and while A.C. was John W.'s wife, numismatically, they were the same person. In any case, Prof. Lupia is to be commended for presenting his theory--it is only through discussions such as those it has stimulated that our understanding is increased, and the full truth will ultimately emerge.

Joel offers one last piece of evidence that seems to support Attinelli's attribution. -Editor

Joel Orosz writes:

The 1855 sale was John W. Kline's collection, based both on the recollection of J.N.T. Levick, whom I already mentioned, and also on this new piece of evidence. I have attached a note in the hand of Winslow J. Howard of New York City (later of New Mexico), who attended the 1855 sale in Philadelphia. This note is bound into Howard's copy of the June 12-13, 1855 sale. As you can see from the note, he specifically identified the coins in the 1855 sale as the John W. Kline collection. Although Howard was off by six days as to the sale date, he was there and all of us were not, so his eyewitness testimony must be considered definitive.

Winslow Howard Note from Kline sale

John Lupia writes:

The note attachment regarding Winslow J. Howard proves nothing since it could easily have been drawn up post October 1868 and influenced by Levick's AJN report. I have made necessary changes to the John W. Kline bio on my website.

From the updated bio:

So who was the owner of that coin collection sold in June 1855? Was it really “A. C. Kline” published on the title page of the printed catalogue? Was a local dealer by the name A.C. Kline taking orders for bids at the sale published on that title page? I have never seen the catalogue but get the gist from Turner & Trenchard that no name of any owner appears on it. This is something very typical. The first identification of the owner as a person named Kline was found in lot 635 "Kline's June 1855 Thomas Birch & Sons" coin auction sale found in a collection of 690 lots sold through Thomas Birch & Co., on April 16, 1866. The auction catalogue typically does not give the name of the consignor on it also. Two coin dealers are listed on the front cover of that 1866 auction catalogue taking orders, i.e., bids for the sale, A. C. Kline and C. K. Warner. This coin auction sale is never mentioned in the list of coin auction catalogues published by Daniel Parish, Jr. in 1866. The identity of the consignor of this 1866 sale was given by Attinelli in 1876 as A. C. Kline and that identification appears to be very reasonable and tenable. The question is, whom was Mrs. Kline identifying as the owner of the June 1855 coin auction sale when she wrote the description in lot 635. "Kline's June 1855? Was she referring to herself, her husband, her father-in-law, a completely different Kline unrelated or a distant relative, who? Or was she pirating the identity as she has so skillfully pirated so many other works several years earlier? Daniel Parish, Jr. owner of the largest collection of coin auction catalogues in the United States had identified this person four months later as F. J. Kline in his list as entry #15 published in 1866.


It is not clear who the owner of the coin and medal collection was comprising an extensive assortment of 1,854 lots of American coins, in a public auction on June 12, 1855, at the auction house of Moses Thomas & Sons, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, realizing a total of $2,062.80. The question arises “How could either Adelia C. Kline or her husband John William Kline have amassed such a valuable collection of Siege pieces, foreign and American coins and medals, foreign and American gold and numismatic literature for “the largest coin auction held in the United States up to that time [? my question]. . . . Although Kline’s name is not mentioned in the catalogue, Attinelli states that “A. C. Kline” was the owner.” (Trenchard & Turner, 27).

To read the complete updated article on John's web site, see: KLINE, Jr., JOHN WILLIAM (

Thanks, everyone, for sharing your data and reasoning with us. This is a fascinating puzzle of 19th-century American numismatics that may never be fully sorted out. But for now it looks like whether to believe Attinelli's attribution of the 1855 sale to John W. Kline depends on whom you ask. Stay tuned, though. -Editor

To read the complete article, see: NEW RESEARCH ON THE COIN COLLECTORS KLINE (


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