The latest addition to the Newman Numismatic Portal is an archive of Chapman Brothers correspondence from the American Numismatic Society
collection. Project Coordinator Len Augsburger provided the following report. -Editor
Chapman Brothers Correspondence at the American Numismatic Society
The ANS acquired a sizable group (19 boxes) of Chapman brothers archives, c. 2000, related to business activities of this Philadelphia rare
coin firm at the turn of the 20th century. Handling some of the most important collections of the period, beginning with the Bushnell sale in 1882,
the Chapmans did much to define the practice of auction cataloging. Descriptions grew less terse, and the usage of photography increased. "Deluxe"
editions signaled the numismatic community that it was perfectly acceptable to collect books. Today their sale catalogs are avidly collected. The
Chapman archives at the ANS include correspondence with the most advanced collectors of the day, and reveal tidbits found nowhere else.
The Newman Numismatic Portal is sponsoring the scanning of the Chapman correspondence, which is expected to take several months. Scanning will
proceed alphabetically by correspondent last name and appear online as it is scanned. "A" correspondents have started to populate, with one item of
interest being the Appleton file. This contains 1904 correspondence between William Sumner Appleton, Jr. and the Chapmans, discussing the estate of
Appleton, Sr. (1840-1903).
Some thought was given to consigning the material (15,000 pieces including 3,000 medals) to the Chapmans. In the end no arrangement was concluded
with the two brothers, and the material went to the Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS), and also appeared at other dealer sales (Steigerwalt
5/1907, 1/1910, Elder 5/1913, 10/1913, and finally from MHS to Stack's 5/1973). One can only imagine that Appleton might today be more widely known
had the Chapmans presented the entire collection in a unified group of sales.
Image: William Sumner Appleton, Jr. correspondence to Samuel Hudson and Henry Chapman, March 4, 1904.
Link to Chapman Brothers correspondence on Internet Archive:
I'm sure the Brothers Chapman never foresaw such a future use of their business correspondence files, but what a boon to numismatic
researchers this will be! -Editor
Wayne Homren, Editor
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