The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 20, Number 42, October 15, 2017, Article 19


John Lupia submitted the following information from the online draft of his book of numismatic biographies for this week's installment of his series. This week's subject is European dealer Leo Hamburger. -Editor

Leo Hamburger NUM Jan 1910-30 Leopold Hamburger (1836-1902), was born on June 1, 1836 at Hanau am Main, Germany, son of Sephardic Jewish immigrants from Portugal Josef Emmanuel Hamburger and Dorchen Hamburger. He began his career working for the banking and money exchange brokerage firm which also sold antique coins, J. N. Oberndörffer at Munich, established 1829...

Eventually Hamburger headed the branch office at Vienna, Austria, where he also sold besides antique coins, minerals and other items typical of the old world curiosity cabinet. He established his own concern as early as 1861 in Vienna working as a mineral and coin dealer. In 1864, at the age of 28, he transferred the business opening the coin shop at Frankfurt am Main taking on a partnership with the old time book dealer Hermann Joseph Bäer (1811-1881). In the early days Adolf-Emil Cahn (1839-1918), worked as an apprentice for Hamburger eventually leaving in 1890 to form the House of Cahn at Frankfurt, which competed with Hamburger's establishment.

Franz B. Döpper, Frankfurt und seine alten Firmen (Deutsche Großstädte im Spiegel der Wirtschaftsgeschichte. Band 8, 1991) relates the establishment of various coin firms in Frankfurt. Adolf Hess (1846-1912), moved his shop from Giessen to Frankfurt in 1872 and competed with Hamburger as a numismatic auction house. From 1889-1910 Eugen Seligmann held a coin shop at Frankfurt. Later on Sally Rosenberg opened her shop at Frankfurt in 1899.

Soon after opening shop at Frankfurt Hamburger was recognized as an important numismatist. In July 1869 he traveled back to Vienna to attend the much celebrated auction of the Graf von Klebelsberg collection held by his old acquaintance Georg Kraus. On February 6, 1871, he married Caroline Gutel Rothschild (1849-1925). They had five children : Caecelie (1871-1943), Hedwig (1873-1874), and Joseph (1874-1929); Dorchen (1876-), and Mathilde (1878-). In August 1871 Hamburger and his partner held their first auction. In 1875, his cousin, the 29 year-old Leo Hamburger also joined him in partnership. The firm of L & L Hamburger began publishing the coin journal Allgemeine numismatische Blätter.

As the Frankfurt numismatic market expanded by 1906 the Frankfurter Numismatische Gesellschaft was established. Joseph Hamburger was a charter member of the Frankfurt Numismatic Society.

Joseph Hamburger, Leopold's son and successor was born on September 11, 1874. On July 25, 1907 Joseph Hamburger married Emilie Mases. Leopold Hamburger died at Frankfurt am Main on February 12, 1902, at the age of 65.

Leopold Hamburger was a very devout Jew and loved Jewish history which led him to amass antique Palestinian coins and travel to the Holy Land. At his death he is reported to have owned the largest collection of antique Palestinian coins known. He bequeathed his collection to the British Museum. His expertise on Palestinian coins resulted in two published works, which undoubtedly were inspired by the 1873 seminal dissertation of Eugen Merzbacher. Leopold Hamburger's two studies are : Die Silber-Münzprägungen während des letzten Aufstandes der Israeliten gegen Rom. (Zeitschrift für Numismatik. Berlin, Volume 18, 1892); and, Die beiden palästinensischen Münzstätten Nikopolis-Emmaus.

The firm of L. & L. Hamburger auctioned hundreds of notable collections of European nobles during its 54 years in partnership. For example, in 1875 they auctioned the collection of Count Heinrich Stecki.

Thanks! As always, this is an excerpt with the full article and bibliography available online. As an American collector I was unaware of this history. There may be much more written in German, but this is the first English-language article I've come across. -Editor

To read the complete article, see:

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