The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 19, Number 2, January 10, 2016, Article 15


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 and bibliography available online. This week's subject is Lorenzo Harris Abbey of ' Abbey Cent' fame. I added an image of the Abbey Cent from the Heritage auction site. -Editor

Abbey, Lorenzo Harris (1822-1881), was born on January 14, 1822, in Kinderbrook, near Albany, New York.

He and his wife Ann B. Loosee had a daughter Ann Eveline (born 1848). The 1880 Census lists him as a Fish and Tackle Merchant, widowed, living in Brooklyn, New York.

His first known coin auction sale is by Henry H. Leeds & Co., New York, who auctioned his coins on September 8, 1863. A year later W. E. Woodward cataloged coins from four collections Levick, Emery, Ilsley and Abbey in Woodward Sale 10, October 18-22, 1864 sold by G. A. Leavitt.

1799 Abbey Cent obverse 1799 Abbey Cent reverse
The Famous Abbey Cent

Emmanuel Joseph Attinelli in Numisgraphics discusses this sale and relates the following:

This ‘was a coin sale, succeeding one of furniture, etc. The owner of the coins was the gentleman whose name is perpetuated in the celebrated “Abbey Cent" of 1799, which, notwithstanding so many years have elapsed, since it was brought to the notice of the numismatic public, still maintains its position as “one of the finest known."

Mr. Abbey is a native of this State, having been born in Herkimer Co., on the 14th of January, 1823. He has long been a resident of this city, carrying on an extensive business in needles, fishing-hooks, and tackle. His introduction to numismatology occurred through the following incident :

"Mr. John Martense, a friend of his and a numismatist, having a duplicate uncirculated cent of 1826, presented it to Mr. Abbey, stating that it was worth about $5.00; being somewhat incredulous, he took it to Mr. Sage, who at once offered Mr. Abbey $7.00 for the cent; somewhat astonished by finding fine coins to have such a value, he at once applied himself in diligent search for others, and with some considerable success. The very next day he procured from a grocer’s till the rare “large head Nova Eboraca."

The “ 99 " cent above alluded to, he bought for $25.00 from Mr. Rogers in Fulton St, who had bought it from a countryman for $2.00. Among other pieces he thus brought to the knowledge of numismatists, were the “ Washington Half Dollars " in copper, the 1802 Half Dime, subsequently sold in Mr. Lilliendahl’s sale for $380.00, and other fine or rare pieces.

He is listed in Lain’s Brooklyn Directory as a merchant with a shop in which he was a partner of the firm Abbey & Imbrie located at 48 Maiden Lane, Brooklyn, New York, and his home address as 176 South Elliott Place, New York. The firm was originally founded in 1820 by J. Warrin, the first to exclusively sell Fish and Tackle gear. About 1861 Abbey joined the firm, then renamed as Andrew Clerk & Co., as a clerk and worked his way up to senior partner. In 1875 the firm again changed names this time to Abbey & Imbrie. He and his partner C. F. Imbrie jointly owned a trout preserve on Green’s River, near Sayville, Long Island. Abbey invented a trout fly known as the “Abbey fly”.

ABBEY fish hook
The Abbey Fly

Also in 1875 he issued "Price List of United States Copper Cents for Sale by L. H. Abbey. Box 23, South Orange, New Jersey."

According to the records of the East Orange Historical Society he owned property in East Orange, New Jersey, at 153 Hollywood Avenue, and 250 William Street.

He is famous for the 1799 Large Cent that has come to be known as the Abbey cent.

He died at Jacksonville, Florida on March 17, 1881

To read the complete article, see:

To read the complete Abbey Cent auction lot description, see: The Famous Abbey Cent
Census-Level 1799 S-189 Large Cent

Wayne Homren, Editor

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