John Lupia submitted the following information from his Encyclopedic Dictionary of Numismatic Biographies for this
week's installment of his series. Thanks. As always, this is an excerpt with the full article and bibliography available online. This
week's subject is coin dealer Alvin Fink. -Editor
Alvin John Fink (1875-1965), was born in Ohio on August 9, 1875 the son of John Finke (1850-1916), a bookkeeper from Oldenburg, Germany and
Catherine "Caroline" Nipgen Finke (1850-1931) from Baden, Germany. Apparently he changed the spelling of his name to Fink randomly as in
1909 in The Numismatist since he is listed as Finke in the 1910 City Directory, when he worked as a letter carrier, and even later on
in 1931 and 1932 listed as Finke.
He was a college graduate from St. Mary's Institute (now the University of Dayton), class of 1891, at the age of fifteen. Later he
attended Georgetown University where he played baseball and was an outstanding pitcher. In 1892, he received an award in Grammar. In 1893
and in 1896, he performed a German musical recital. In 1894, he was awarded the Hoffman Mathematica Medal at Georgetown. It was at New York
University Graduate School when he began collecting coins circa 1899 at the age of twenty-three.
In 1911 he called his business Fink's Curio Store, Dayton, Ohio and he conducted three coin and curio auction sales.
In the May 1912 issue of Fink's Offerings he had listed an 1804 Silver Dollar for sale in VF condition for $2,600.00. The
known 1804 Silver Dollars in VF condition are that of the Class I “Cohen Specimen” ex William B. Wetmore sold by S. H. & H. Chapman in June
1906; and the Class III Rosenthal Specimen. Since James H. Manning purchased the Cohen Specimen from the Chapman Brothers' Wetmore sale
in June 1906, and James Ellsworth owned the Rosenthal Specimen from 1894 until 1923, which 1804 dollar is this? Keep in mind he eventually
is arrested and imprisoned for mail fraud twenty years later in 1931 and 1932.
He joined the ANA in 1948 and was given member number 15480. However, his name neither appears in the ANA Membership Directory published
in December 1948 nor in any other subsequently.
During the 1950’s he operated his coin business in the lobby of the Dayton YMCA where he was a member and a daily swimmer. At that time
he published Fink's Coin Bulletin. During that time Henry Norweb was a frequent correspondent ordering various coins on approval but
most were returned.
Be sure to read the complete article online for more information and images, and the story of Fink's robbery in 1961. Fink died about
four years later on November 8, 1965. -Editor
To read the complete article, see:
Regarding a letter to the Chapman Brothers from George McCombe, last week Dave Hirt wrote:
I was interested in the Chapman's address on the letter, of 2043 Tower Street. That was their first address as coin dealers, when
they were still really boys. That is not in the Philadelphia business district, but along the Schuylkill River in a section of the city
called Manayunk. Perhaps it was their parents' home.
John Lupia writes:
The Chapman Brothers always lived with their parents until their mother died in 1891 and their father, Henry, Sr. died in 1907. When
they were young boys they lived at East Walnut Street until Spring 1868 and then moved to 631 Market Street until April 1876 when they
moved to 2043 Tower Street.
631 Market street was just a few blocks from Joseph Jacob Mickley, who lived at 927 Market Street. They most probably knew Mickley and
were familiar as boys with his coin collection since their father Henry Chapman, Sr. worked as an exchange broker at that time, which was
the near equivalent in 1868 to being a coin dealer. The young Chapman boys who worked for Col. John W. Haseltine, E. L. Mason's
former partner, beginning in 1875 were only following in father's footsteps.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
MORE ON GEORGE THOMAS MCCOMBE, JR.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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