American Numismatic Biographies author Pete Smith submitted this
article on American Numismatic Association personality Frank C. Higgins. Thanks!
If events had played out a little differently, Frank C. Higgins might be in the ANA Hall of Fame.
Francis Carlos Higgins, more commonly known as Frank C. Higgins, was born in Philadelphia on January 7, 1867. His parents were Paul Lajus Higgins (1842-1926) and Clarissa Enos (1840-1921). They were divorced and both remarried.
At the time of the 1880 Census, Frank was living in Germantown, Pennsylvania, with his mother and employed as an office clerk at age 13. He attended Shattuck Military Academy at Faribault in Minnesota.
He began newspaper work with the Philadelphia Public Ledger. Later he was a reporter for the St. Paul Dispatch and Minneapolis Tribune. He was sent to Paris in 1889 as a special correspondent for the New York Press and Boston Daily Globe. In 1896 he became press representative for Non-Flammable Wood Co. Ltd, a company affiliated with Edward, the Prince of Wales. In 1897 he went on a special mission to Alfred, the Duke of Saxe-Coberg and Gotha, the second son of Queen Victoria. In 1898 he applied for a passport giving his address as St. Paul, Minnesota, and his occupation as journalist.
While in Europe in 1892, Higgins wrote Introduction to Modern Copper Coins of Europe. He later reported that copper coins frequently are high priced in their country of origin but cheap in other countries.
Higgins was a Fellow of the Royal Numismatic Society in England. When he applied for ANA membership in 1902, he was living in London. In the July, 1902 issue of The Numismatist he reported on various dealers he had encountered while living and travelling through Europe. In 1908 he had an address change to New York.
In the November 1908 issue of The Numismatist, he proposed formation of a local club in New York City. This developed into the New York Numismatic Club with Higgins as the first president. In 1909 he was the district secretary for the ANA.
Also in 1909 he was listed as one of three associate editors of The Numismatist and praised in an editorial. The listing said,
Frank C. Higgins, Linguist, Foreign Editor. He was listed through the June 1909 issue but his name was removed for the July 1909 issue.
The July 1909 issue of The Numismatist noted nominations for officers to be elected at the Montreal convention in 1910. Candidates for president were Frank C. Higgins and Dr. J. M. Henderson. Thus began a highly contentious campaign conducted primarily by surrogates. New York dealer Thomas Elder supported Higgins while outgoing president Farran Zerbe supported Henderson.
An article by Douglas Ward in the Spring 2022 issue of The Asylum has an excellent discussion of the election,
The American Numismatic Association Election of 1909 as Viewed through its Membership Applications from 1907 to 1910.
Zerbe and Henderson conducted the more effective campaign and Higgins conceded the election. Eventually Henderson made it into the ANA Hall of Fame. After the election, Higgins faded from active participation in numismatics. He put his efforts into books on the Masonic Fraternity.
Higgins designed the
First American Coin Collector medal issued in January 1911. He designed other medals produced for Thomas Elder including the Hendrick Hudson Daalder (DeLorey 74), the Robert Fulton / Clarmont piece (DeLorey 76) and the Irish Crown (DeLorey 78).
Higgins proposed a series of dollar sized medals he called
Family Dollars which would honor the legacy of an American family. The first was issued for the Evans family. His scheme was not successful and is unrelated to a Family Dollar store that may be in your neighborhood.
During World War I, he was civilian yard master at the United States Engineer Depot at Kearny, New Jersey. His language skills got him transferred to the United States Department of State. The 1920 Census gives his profession as U. S. government inspector.
Tracking his marriages and children was a challenge and records may be incomplete. It appears that Frank was married four times. His first marriage was to Virginia Catherine Freyburger (1865), born in Paris. Their son was Maurice Eugene Higgins, born August 30, 1888, in Manhattan.
His second marriage was to Clara Elizabeth Brailey (1872) in 1893 in London and ended in divorce in 1900. They had a son, Frank E. Higgins, born in 1898.
His third marriage was to Marie Louis Jeanne Gillot (1880-1944), who was born in Paris, on September 16, 1903, at St George, Hanover Square, London, England. Their children were Francis Lynch (Born in London, 1905-1980), Marie Pauline Lajus (Born in London, 1907) and Louis Eugene (Born in New York, 1912-1970).
His fourth marriage was to Flora MacDonald McClure (1890-1973) on October 20, 1928, at Cheektowaga, New York, shortly before his death.
Higgins was a 32nd degree Scottish Rite Mason and Past Master of Ivanhoe Lodge 610 in New York City. He died in Manhattan on December 10, 1928, and is buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Bronx, New York.
Thanks. Pete! Excellent bio of an important numismatic figure. The images are from Mehl's Numismatic Monthly.
To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
THE FIRST AMERICAN COIN COLLECTOR MEDAL
NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: FEBRUARY 27, 2022 : More on the First American Coin Collector Medal
Wayne Homren, Editor
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