The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 18, Number 38, September 20, 2015, Article 14


John Lupia submitted the following information from his Encyclopedic Dictionary of Numismatic Biographies‎ for this week's installment of his series. Thanks! As always, this is an excerpt with the full article, bibliography and more images available online. This week's subject is Isaac Francis Wood, another key figure in American numismatics. -Editor

Isaac Francis Wood (1841-1895), born on Thursday, July 15, 1841, in the old 7th Ward of New York City, then called the Quaker Ward, the son of Dr. Isaac Wood, M.D. (1793-1868), and his third wife Margaret Morell Hicks (1798-1873), the widow of Harvey Street. He was christened Francis Augustus Napoleon Wood. Later in life he changed his name twice: first, to Francis Augustus Wood, and second, in 1868, upon the death of his father and in his honor, as Isaac Francis Wood.

His father was the founder of the New York Institution for the Blind, and his third wife Margaret Morrell Hicks Wood. He is a direct descendent of Joseph Wood of Gloucestershire, England. His paternal grandfather was Samuel Wood of Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York. His maternal grandfather was John Hicks of Hempstead, Long Island, New York. In their day the Hicks, Wooley, Seerings and Wood families were the most prominent on Long Island.

He entered Haverford College at age 15 years in 1856. He was the founder of the Haverford Alumni Prize Medal for Oratory and Composition. He was the Vice-president of the Loganian Society. He was one of the founders of the Everett Society, and Vice-president of the Alumni Association (1877) and president (1878). He graduated B. A. 1862.

He worked for William Wood & Company the leading publisher in the city and was made a partner in the firm in 1868. He retired in 1871.

Numismatic Career :

WOOD, I.F., 4-26-84 letter to Chapmans In order to give him perspective in American numismatic history Samuel Hudson Chapman was born on Wood's 16th birthday. Wood is an illustrious figure born immediately after the very end of Post-Revolutionary War America 1800-1840, and the very beginning of Antebellum America. Coin auction sales had become common for two decades prior to his birth. Collecting coins and studying numismatics were subjects that certainly were salient at Haverford College and most probably when he began interest in coins and medals.

His interest in finding fellow associates to collect with led him to be one of the revivers of the American Numismatic and Archaeological Society (ANS) in 1864. He joined the American Numismatic and Archaeological Society on February 5, 1864 at the age of 22, and later became a Life Member.

In April 1864 he wrote to Henry Champion of the New Haven Numismatic Society regarding the catalogue of the Yale College Collection. Champion replied he never heard of the ANS, which led him to look into the matter of its incorporation. He spearheaded the nine incorporators of the American Numismatic and Archaeological Society on May 16, 1865. About this time he also spread the circular of the ANS for the Abraham Lincoln Medal soliciting through the mail its sale at $5 each and 20 % discount to any agent obtaining subscriptions. He was one of five members appointed to a committee in March 1866 to found a journal for the society, which became the American Journal of Numismatics. He served as the ANS Librarian from 1869 to 1879.

In 1869, he commissioned William H. Key to produce “St. Paul’s Church, Norwalk, CT” and George H. Lovett to produce a “Memorial Series” of medals beginning with “Andrew Jackson’s Public Entry into N. Y., 1866”, and in the late 1870’s restrikes of the Augustus B. Sage, Historical Tokens Series, from the original dies left in the ANS donated in 1867. In 1874, the 4th medal was struck in the “Memorial Series” depicting the Boston Numismatic Society on the obverse and the New England Historical and Genealogical Society on the reverse.

In 1875, he was responsible for renting a room and space for a bookcase at Mott Memorial Free Medical Library, 64 Madison Avenue, thereby providing the ANS with its first permanent space, though rented for one year. That same year he subscribed to Sylvester Sage Crosby’s Early Coins of America.

From 1877 to 1877 he advertised buying Grant medals. In 1876 he issued a satirical political candidate medal of Samuel J. Tilden, calling him instead of Sammy, Shammy.

During his final years of tenure as Librarian, James Pollack, director of the U. Mint ceased selling coins to societies at wholesale. Consequently, he was appointed by the ANS to be their member of a joint committee formed by the Boston Numismatic Society and the Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Philadelphia to have the U. S. Mint continue selling coins at wholesale to numismatic societies. This renewal occurred under the directorship of Col. A. Louden Snowden on March 1, 1879, nearing the end of Wood’s librarianship.

About this time he operated the New York Medal Club, also located at the Mott Memorial Free Medical Library, 64 Madison Avenue, advertising in the American Journal of Numismatics April, 1879, as an issuer and dealer of medals.

The lengthy article goes on to describe Wood's correspondence with the Chapmans and eight auctions of his coins. Be sure to read the complete version online. -Editor

To read the complete article, see:

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at

To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor at this address:

To subscribe go to:



Copyright © 1998 - 2020 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS)
All Rights Reserved.

NBS Home Page
Contact the NBS webmaster