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National Archive letters from the late 19th and early 20th centuries reveal that the United States Mint
maintained business relationships with coin dealers and also followed their activities. The Mint often
used contemporary coin sale results to determine monetary offers for numismatic items they wished
to purchase for the Mint Cabinet. In addition, dealers often proposed trading numismatic items with
the Mint in order to further their interests. For example in 1894, The Scott Stamp & Coin Company of
New York City sent two medals to the Mint for their Cabinet, with the expectation that in return, the
Mint would supply
a specimen of the last Assay Medal with [a] bust of Cleveland for their customer,
John F. McCoy. McCoy was apparently still acquiring numismatic items even though his impressive
collection was auctioned off 30 years earlier.
Coin dealers also used their relationship with the Mint to obtain specific proof sets or coins not readily
available in circulation. In 1889, prominent Philadelphia dealers S. H. & H. Chapman ordered 75 proof
sets of that year and their request was granted. However, dealers were not always successful with
In 1922, Henry Chapman, who was no longer a
partner with his brother, Samuel Hudson, sought examples of all
U.S. denominations dated 1922. This is not surprising, as the Mint
only struck cents, dollars and double eagles for circulation that year
due to excess inventory of other denominations. Chapman made
his appeal to President Harding on October 18, 1922. His letter was
referred to executive Mint clerk Mary Margaret O'Reilly, who
despite the lack of a proper title oversaw Mint operations for the
much less experienced Director, Frank E. Scoby. She informed Mr.
This Bureau appreciates the interest you are taking
in in the matter of numismatics and your desire to have preserved
a uniform collection of the coins of this country, but it is not in our
power to take any action which will result in the coinage of a
limited number of new coins for collection purposes.
Chapman requested these coins 3 additional times and was denied by the
Mint each time.
Image: 1894 United States Assay Commission Medal MS63 Brown Uncertified; ex. Heritage Auctions
9/16/2006, lot 6593, realized $402.50.
Image: Mary Margaret O'Reilly (Image Courtesy of the Treasury Department)
Letter from Scott Stamp & Coin Co. to Superintendent of the Mint Bosbyshell:
John F. McCoy Collection Catalog:
Correspondence regarding Chapman Brothers Request for Proof Sets of 1889:
Correspondence regarding Henry Chapman Request for Coins of 1922:
Wayne Homren, Editor
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