Here's another entry from
the online draft of John Lupia's book of numismatic biographies. Thanks! This is an excerpt with the full article and bibliography available online. This week's subject is
dealer David Proskey.
David Ulysses Proskey (1853-1928), was born the eldest of eight children, and first of five sons, on December 12, 1853, son of Sigismond Proskey (1837-1898), a Pollock and prosperous merchant by trade, and his mother born in Glasgow, Scotland of Irish parents, Anna "Jane" Josephine Lynch Proskey (1836-1898), at Wappinger Falls, Duchess County, New York. His father seems to have been educated in classics since he names his son Alexander and David's middle name is Ulysses.
David Proskey is a very interesting personality in American numismatic history. Coming from a large family of industrious businessmen he had his hand in several prospects at any given time. His is a story of a young man whose hobby brought him fame and fortune over time. In the beginning he was probably involved in the Proskey Brothers mainly as an investor when his brother Alexander began a lumber business in Paterson, New Jersey, also the site where they lived. The Proskey Brothers soon became a building company, hoteliers, and then real estate brokers making many transactions over the years and a substantial fortune for the family. But, in the beginning David soon spread out to New York with an office selling stamps, coins, minerals, curios, and other antiquities. Keeping his own office he put his younger brother Samuel there after he had graduated from school during the day when he went off to work for John Walter Scott. In the evenings both would travel back home by train. Proskey probably edited Scott's Coin Collector's Journal from his own business office on many occasions but also appears to have had other duties managing the coin and medal department for Scott requiring his presence there.
Scott more and more began to be overwhelmed dealing in stamps. Proskey was also well versed in stamps and was a big help to Scott as his business grew. Undoubtedly, the growth of Scott & Company can to some extent be attributed to the hard work of Proskey, which eventually led to Scott selling out to a syndicate controlled by the Calman Brothers and Henry Collin. It was because of the talent and energy of David Proskey capitalized by Scott that John W. Scott was dubbed the octopod by Frossard since he seems to have had his hands in everything working at ferocious speed dominating the markets of coins and stamps. All the while David Proskey built up his own businesses. He became established as a leading dealer in stamps and coins but more and more over time migrated to coins in the later 1890's due to the synergy of Harlan Page Smith, a financier who may have been involved with the Proskeys in their other business ventures as well.
1. The First Period - 1873-1878.
In 1873, he began selling stamps, coins, minerals and curiosities at the behest of his parents who complained of the enormity of his collection cluttering the house.
Fig. 2. Store Card of David Proskey, 57 Courtland St., New York City counterstamped on a pierced worn out and redated Coronet Type -Matron Head Large Cent to amuse a collector with the wishful date newly engraved of 1799. EX-Presidential Coin & Antique, Token & Medal Auction Sale, No. 26, May 26, 1979, Lot 1629.
In 1875, He lived at 186 Washington Street, New York. At as Emmanuel Joseph Attinelli tells us that time he printed a small circular selling the Centennial Medal of the 7th Regiment N. G. visit to Boston, Massachusetts.
In 1876, Proskey was located at 194 Washington Street, New York City.
In the April 1878 issue of American Journal of Numismatics, Proskey advertised his own business at 765 Broadway, stating that he was a dealer in "coins, medals, tokens and numismatic works. Masonic, Centennial, Washington, Lincoln, Hayes, and Tilden, a specialty. Rare store cards and political medals. Forty-four page Illustrated Catalogue of United States, foreign and ancient Roman silver coins, sent postpaid for 25 cents."
Proskey was both a dealer and a collector who held several coin auction sales from 1876 to 1887 prior to his numismatic business partnership with Harlan Page Smith. The exact number of auction catalogues made by David Proskey is unclear but he may have produced sixty-five or more under his own name, Scott & Co., Scott Stamp & Coin Co., Ltd, and New York Coin and Stamp Co., as well as for others.
There is much more about Proskey's lengthy numismatic career in the complete article online. I'll excerpt some more next week.
To read the complete article, see:
PROSKEY, DAVID ULYSSES
Wayne Homren, Editor
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