John Lupia submitted the following information from the online draft of his book 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 collector Vernon
Vernon Burgar (1861-1944), was born on October 20, 1861, in Stamford, Delaware County, New York, son of Reverend James Morris Burgar (1830-1902), a
Methodist minister, and Sarah Ann Kerr (1830-).
Burgar was a music teacher and lifelong numismatist. He specialized in English copper and silver that circulated in British colonial North America, U. S.
Cents & Half Cents. Very little is known about him and nothing about the whereabouts of his coin collection.
In 1870, his father was a minister at Coeymans, New York, where he went to school.
Burgar studied music and became a music teacher and organist.
In 1890, he lived at Philip Goerlitz's newly built carved brownstone apartment building - 61 Grove Street, West Village, New York City, New York,
where he taught music Monday through Friday. He spent his weekends at home in Sing Sing.
He appears to have lived for forty years with a Canadian woman four years younger named Marian W. Corley, who worked as his housekeeper.
Burgar correspondence with the Chapman Brothers, postmarked November 18, 1895.
"Dear Sir: Many thanks for your announcement of the Winsor sale.If you care to you may send me, to address written above [Emwilton Place, Sing Sing,
N.Y.] a plain catalogue and I may be able to send you some bids. My chief interest has been in foreign coppers. Still I would like to better the conditions of
many of my U. S. Cents & Half Cents. It is very difficult to know what prices to offer for them without seeing the coins. By the way I have not heard from
you in regards to the Bronze tetra Drachms of Athens. I thought if you could sell them at $1.50 each I could afford Christmas presents for my friends. I spend
five days each week in New York and one here. V. Bulgar. My father, a clergyman, resides here permanently."
In October, 1905 he applied for membership in the ANA. He became ANA Member No. 759.
Burgar's ad in The Numismatist, October 1906
The 1928 Ossining City Directory lists him as a music teacher living at 9 Emwilton Place, Ossining, Westchester County, New York.
He died on May 27, 1944, and is buried in Dale Cemetery, Ossining, Westchester County, New York.
Would anyone know of any coins in collections today that can be traced back to Vernon Burgar? The Newman Numismatic Portal led me to a note on p23 of Roger
Cohen's American Half Cents: The "Little Half Sisters" (Second Edition) where Burgar is listed alongside Lyman Low, Henry Miller and Dr
George French as having loaned coins for photographing in the Gilbert book.
Gilbert's Varieties of the United States Cents of 1796, coauthored with Thomas Elder, was published in 1909 and revised in 1916. NNP also has
digitized copies of these, but Burgar's name doesn't seem to appear, so I'm not sure where Cohen got that information. But Gilbert plate coins are
likely to have documented pedigrees. Any information anyone may have would be appreciated. Burgar's an otherwise obscure collector not well known today.
Thanks to John Lupia for bringing him to life for us. I reached out to Bill Eckberg, author of The Half Cent, 1793-1857: The Story of America's Greatest
Little Coin for comment. -Editor
I never heard of the guy. But even the very finest half cent collections before 1960 are very poorly known. So, I can’t say that the fact that I haven’t
heard of Burgar means anything. The Gilbert plate coins aren’t pedigreed in his book, so there is probably no way to suss Burgar’s coins from the group.
To read the complete article, see:
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