John Lupia submitted the following information from the online draft of his book 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 dealer E. F. Gambs. -Editor
Ernest Franz Gambs (1858-1902), in 1880 located at 621 South Fifth Street, St. Louis, Missouri, and earlier located at 413 South 4th Street, St. Louis, Missouri; later about 1882 he was
located at Box 2631, San Francisco, California, and then to 4 Sutter Street, San Francisco, California, and by 1886-1889 to 234 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, California.
In 1872, he published The Philatelist (1872-1876), began as a stamp dealer but diversified out and became a coin and stamp dealer. In 1876, he continued publishing changing the name to, the
St. Louis Philatelist (1876-1882). Later, after 1882, he continued publishing changing the name to, The California Philatelist, Vol. 1-16 (1882-1900). He had a coin department for his
magazine. He published a Price List for Rare American Silver and Copper Coins, the 7th edition in 1890.
A biographical sketch of Gambs appeared in 1888 in The Badger State Philatelist, February issue...
In 1879 he added American silver and copper coins to his business. One of the finest and most valuable American pieces which Mr. Gambs was the fortunate possessor of was a very fine 1802
half dime, which he secured in an old grocery store on Elm Street, in change. It was sold for $50 to Wm. P. Brown, the pioneer coin and stamp dealer of New York. Mr. Brown refused $200 for it, but
later sold it at auction, only bringing $147.50, being much less than he had anticipated.
The third time, however, it was advertised at auction and pronounced the finest of 1802 half dimes ever discovered in this or any other country, it brought $176, and was knocked down to a
Philadelphia numismatic speculator, who sold it afterwards for $225, nearly five thousand times its face value.
In the fall of 1882 Mr. Gambs became seriously ill through overwork, so as to confine him to the hospital. He was prostrated to such an extent that two physicians at one time gave up his recovery.
A change of climate was necessary and he was compelled to leave St. Louis for San Francisco. After several weeks rest he was restored to perfect health and in consequence of the salubrious climate of
the golden shores of the Pacific, he resolved permanently to locate in San Francisco.
Personally, Mr. Gambs is of a genial disposition and well-liked by all with whom he comes in contact in everyday life, as he is popular among the great army of stamp collectors who have had
dealings with him. He is five feet ten inches in height, weighs 190 pounds, and is unmarried."
On the morning of February 7, 1902, he was found gassed to death in his bed at 1815 Devisadero Street, San Francisco, California. It was believed the pilot light on the stove went out without his
being aware while sitting up in bed reading his correspondence asphyxiating him. The San Francisco Call reported, "He had fallen asleep over his letters."
To read the complete article, see:
* * * * *
GAMBS, ERNEST FRANZ
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Wayne Homren, Editor
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