The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 24, Number 19, May 9, 2021, Article 18


Here's more from the David Prosky entry from the online draft of John Lupia's book of numismatic biographies. This is an excerpt with the full article and bibliography available online. -Editor

2. Second Period - 1877 - 1885 - John Walter Scott & Scott & Company.

DAVID PROSKEY 1925 From 1877 to 1885 he worked for John Walter Scott in his firm Scott & Company. In 1877, David Proskey became the new editor of Scott's Coin Collector's Journal, and head of the coin and medal department. Proskey was editor of Scott's Coin Collector's Journal from Volume 2 (1877) to Volume 13 (1888).

In 1879, Proskey was involved in creating the J. W. Scott & Co., 1861 Confederate half dollar restrikes from an original die.

When Scott sold his corporate stock to a syndicate run by the Calman Brothers and Henry Collin in December 1885, they renamed it Scott Stamp & Coin Company, Limited, and kept Proskey as head of the coin and medal department. While at both firms Proskey catalogued both stamps and coins. He decided to leave in 1887 and form an independent company which quickly evolved into a partnership with Harlan Page Smith. Scott Stamp & Coin Company, Limited recruited Lyman Haynes Low to take over the management of the coin and medal department upon Proskey's departure August 31, 1887. Apparently, Low specialized only in coins and after a tenure of ten years went independent as Proskey had done.

From 1879 to 1916 Proskey's expertise on Large Cents were the hallmark among the collectors who attributed their specimens based on Proskey's numbering system that were found among the various coin auction catalogues.

In 1880, he is listed in the U. S. Census as living with his parents and family in Washington Township, Bergen County, New Jersey.

By about 1881, the Proskey Brothers, particularly David and Alexander established themselves in the building materials industry selling pine and cypress shingles with a commercial lumber yard in the business and industrial zone of Paterson, New Jersey on River Street. David probably served mainly as the investor backer of his brother. According to William Nelson (1847-1914), the historian of Paterson, New Jersey, Edward Van Houten, David Proskey's father-in-law, lived at 448 River Street, Paterson, Passaic County, New Jersey. However, Nelson was doing his research between 1897 and 1901 when the book was published. This residence was the Proskeys established residence for thirty years from the 1881 until about 1911, which, if it were a single family dwelling necessitates Edward Van Houten having moved in after his daughter Matye married David in 1884.

In May 1880, Ebenezer Locke Mason, Jr., reported in Mason's Coin Collectors' Herald, Vol. II, No. 1, June (1880) :2a, that he had met Proskey at New York together with Henry Griswold Sampson and John Walter Scott buying coins from each of them during one of his coin buying excursions.

From 1882-1883 Proskey published a series on Civil War tokens in Scott's Coin Collector's Journal.

By 1884 he was conducting his personal coin business by mail from the office of Proskey Brothers, 448 River Street, Paterson, N. J., manufacturers of yellow pine lumber and Cyprus shingles, and general storekeepers.

In 1884, he published a comprehensive list of all known California private gold in Scott's Coin Collector's Journal.

On January 3, 1884, he married Matye (Machard) "Madge" Van Houten (1852-1934), daughter of [Iddo] Edo "Edward" Van Houten (1813-1893), and Ellen Lake (1819-1881), a noted family of Passaic, New Jersey, of the Dutch Reformed Church at Acquackanonk. They had three sons : David Verus Proskey (1885-1956); Elbert Alexander Proskey (1887-1956); Harold Van Houten Proskey (1889-1970); and a daughter : Elsie Lake Proskey (1893-1960), who later married Charles F. Whadcock.

To read the complete article, see:

Dave Hirt writes:

"While reading through the article on David Proskey, I kept looking at his picture. Something was ringing a bell in my mind. Then I remembered, I have a book in my library with that picture. It took some thinking, but finally I remembered that it was in the M L Beistle book on Half Dollar Varieties. I pulled the book, and there it was, the same photo as in The E-Sylum.The book was published in 1929, the year after the death of Proskey.

"Beistle wrote a dedication. "To the memory of David Proskey. A numismatist who knew, and was always ready to impart that knowledge when it was appreciated." Interestingly, the Beistle book was one of my earliest reference books, purchased in 1956 or '57."

Wayne Homren, Editor

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