The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 14, Number 23, June 5, 2011, Article 9


Lots of commentary from readers on the Woodward & Lothrop Store Coin Department. -Editor

Kerry Rodgers found this item on the Woodward & Lothrop department stores on Wikipedia:

Woodward and Lothrop Washington DC Woodward & Lothrop was a department store chain headquartered in Washington, D.C. Woodward & Lothrop was Washington, D.C.'s first department store, opening in 1887. Woodies, as it was often nicknamed, maintained stores in the Mid-Atlantic United States. Its flagship store was a fixture of the shopping district in downtown Washington. Woodward, Lothrop & Cochrane opened at 705 Market Space at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and 7th Street Northwest (now the United States Navy Memorial). The first store was so successful that within a year, they moved to a larger location at 921 Pennsylvania Avenue. Woodies expanded into suburban shopping malls after World War II.

To read the complete article, see: Woodward & Lothrop (

Kerry also found this 2009 Washington Post reference:

We called it "Woodies." I come from a family of shopaholics. We shopped the Woodies in Friendship Heights, the one in Wheaton and in Montgomery Mall, but there will never be a store like the one that was in the heart of downtown with the North and South buildings.

It was the total experience of being in a large urban department store -- the impressive main aisle that ran from the G Street entrance to the F Street entrance. I remember the always crowded area by the row of elevators, the very cool Down Under section that connected the two buildings when Metro came to town in 1976; the stamp and coin department and the large, luminous chandeliers above the endless perfume, makeup and jewelry areas on the first floor.

Loren Gatch writes:

I don't know about the store in downtown D.C., but as a teenager in the early 1970s I spent many hours in the coin department of "Woodies" at the Friendship Heights location (the corner of Willard and Wisconsin Aves, across from the old Howard Johnson's). This was before the Metro was built, and the area was pretty sleepy compared to now. I wasn't aware who ran the department, but I remember thinking the clerks weren't terribly expert in numismatics. Still, they were unfailingly polite and patient with my leisurely forays through their inventory. I also remember their distinctive use of paper envelopes, rather than 2x2s, to store their coins. It allowed me to physically hold each coin I looked at, a luxury less available nowadays when so many coins are "slabbed" away from human touch.

Russ Sears writes:

Woodward & Lothrop actually had two coin departments. One was in D. C. at 10th, 11th, F & G Streets and the other in one of the suburbs, I think Chevy Chase. The coin you showed along with its original envelope was from the D. C. store (see DC on the envelope).

Nelson Whitman, an expert in both coins and political artifacts and who is still seen at various coin shows around the area, was the manager of the downtown store for many years. Both stores were owned by the Friedbergs as was the store where I worked in Baltimore, Hutzler's. At one time, the Friedbergs had about three dozen coin shops

Joe Levine writes:

This was one of a large number of department store outlets owned by the Friedberg's Coin and Currency Institute. For years it was run by Nelson Whitman. When it closed, Nelson opened up Capitol Stamp & Coin Company in Washington, D.C. which he still operates.

Pete Smith writes:

The E-Sylum has mentioned Robert Friedberg who set up coin departments in major department stores. I recall an attempt to list all the publications ofThe Coin and Currency Institute. Perhaps someone could attempt to list all the department stores where they had their shops.

Nelson Whitman was manager of the coin shop in Woodward & Lothrop for 18 years. He was later the owner of Capitol Coin and Stamp Company in Washington. I don't know if this company has any association with Capitol Coin Company owned by Friedberg. Whitman was born on 11/12/1936. Attached is an image from the Capitol Coin & Stamp web page. I assume this is Whitman but he is not identified.

Nelson Whitman

To visit the Capitol Coin & Stamp web site, see:

Tom DeLorey writes:

As a small aside to the item about the 1842-O $10 sold in the coin department at the Woodward & Lothrop department store, a great American numismatic rarity was once discovered in a cash register at Woodward & Lothrop!

Back when I was working at Coin World, we received in a Bicentennial dollar struck in Proof on a 40% silver planchet without a mint mark! What's more, the coin displayed the Type Two reverse, unlike the no mint mark trial strikes known to have been struck in 1974 with the Type One reverse.

When I queried the submittor, he said that the coin had been found in a cash drawer at the Woodward & Lothrop department store in Washington, D.C. I speculated that some Treasury or Congressional personage had simply spent it there, but of course nothing was ever proven.

At the time the coin showed evidence of minor circulation handling, but I understand that the circulation has since gone away.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: QUERY: WOODWARD AND LOTHROP DEPARTMENT STORE COIN SHOP (


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Wayne Homren, Editor

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