The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 27, Number 11, March 17, 2024, Article 17

PETER MOUGEY (1842-1908)

E-Sylum Feature Writer and American Numismatic Biographies author Pete Smith submitted this article on Cincinnati collector Peter Mougey. Thanks! -Editor

  Peter Mougey (1842-1908)

catalogueofforty1910elde_o8b1_0005 Peter Mougey was not well known as a coin collector. It was only after his death that the high quality of his collection was revealed.

Pierre Nicolaus Mougey was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on February 23, 1841, the son of Desire Mougey (1807-1879) and Felicite Clement Mougey (1815-1882). His parents came from France and were Ohio farmers. In numismatic references, his name only appears as Peter Mougey.

He was married in 1871 to Josephine Fieber (1848-1923) and had three sons and two daughters.

Mougey and his partner, F. M. Boyer were partners in Colter & Company wholesale grocers at Sixth and Main streets in Cincinnati. They acquired the firm after the 1880 death of founder Aaron A. Colter.

Peter Mougey joined the ANA in February 1893 as member 131. A few years later, he was listed as member number 47.

In 1901, Mougey was appointed to the board of directors of Provident Savings Bank and Trust Company.

Mougey died of pneumonia after a brief illness on February 13, 1908, and is buried with his wife and parents at Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The Cincinnati Post reported on February 21, 1908:

When Probate Court Deputy Frank Behle opened the safety deposit vault of the late Peter Mougey, head of Colter & Co., he found what is believed to be one of the finest private coin collections in the country.

The article went on to describe storage of coins in cotton-lined boxes filed in a heavy tin box. Mougey did not share his collection and showed coins only to his wife.

The Quad-City Times of Davenport, Iowa, had a report on September 7, 1910:

Mr. (Gilbert) Mougey of Davenport recently sold his father's collection to a New York millionaire for over $30,000. The New Yorker did not desire the entire Mougey collection, but was anxious to secure certain coins in it in order to complete his own collection. Mr. Mougey naturally declined to break up his complete collection and would not part with any part of it without the New Yorker purchasing it entirely. This he did.

He made a specialty of American coins, and at the time of his death was supposed to have the most finely preserved, though not the largest, collection of this sort in existence.

The article did not identify the New York millionaire but it was subsequently revealed to be William H. Woodin. After selecting what he wanted, Woodin consigned the rest to Thomas Elder for his sale of September 1, 2 & 3, 1910. The sale was timed to run just before the 1910 A.N.A. convention held at the American Numismatic Society in New York City.

Elder emphasized the quality of the collection:

The late Peter Mougey, Esqr., may be said to have been a numismatic seer, The perfect preservation of practically every one of his coins proves that when, many years ago, he purchased the pieces, he looked far into the future. He prized only those coins which were beautifully preserved, only the ones that turn out to be the most valuable today. For this reason alone, Mr. Mougey must be regarded as one of the wisest, if not. Indeed, the most far-sighted American numismatist of his day.

  catalogueofforty1910elde_o8b1_0103 catalogueofforty1910elde_o8b1_0155

The February 1911 issue of The Numismatist reported on the sale of his collection:

Many record prices for United States coins have been made in 1910, but especially remarkable have been the prices which have been paid for certain varieties of the old-fashioned copper cents that were issued from 1793 to 1857. These are now the highest priced series of coins in the world, according to a statement recently made by one of America's leading numismatists.

The highest price ever paid for a cent was $340, which was paid for an uncirculated specimen of a Liberty cap cent dated 1793 which was sold in this city last September. The former owner of the coin, the late Peter Mougey of Cincinnati, is said to have taken a trip from his home to Philadelphia to secure this specimen.

This 1793 Liberty Cap Cent is now known as Sheldon-13 in a PCGS holder as MS-64+BN.

Thomas Elder produced more than a hundred tokens and medals. These were catalogued originally by Thomas K. DeLorey in The Numismatist for June and July 1980. They were then published as Thomas L. Elder A Catalogue of His Tokens and Medals.

DeLorey-13 was a medal Elder produced to commemorate his sale of the Mougey collection. This illustration is from the book.

  Elder.Mougey medal .13

Pete adds:

"I made an amusing discovery while browsing through the Elder sale catalog. Lot 879 was the first half disme listed but not dated. The description is clearly for a 1792 half disme. It sold for $36, the fourth highest price paid up to that time. The coin is in my notes but I had forgotten about it. It is not in the 1792 census published in 1792: Birth of a Nation's Coinage because the coin could not be identified from the partial plate in the catalog."

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Wayne Homren, Editor

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