The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 26, Number 36, September 3, 2023, Article 18


Lot 453 in the upcoming Kolbe & Fanning sale is first among many favorites in my numismatic library. I got goosebumps holding this volume, a treasure directly connected to the dawn of organized numismatics in this country. Here's an excerpt from David Fanning's masterful catalog description. -Editor

  Collet Roper sale volume Collet Roper sale bookplate

Eight catalogues and one addenda, bound in one volume. 8vo, contemporary black half calf, gilt, with marbled sides; spine ruled and lettered in gilt. Collet's engraved bookplate is affixed to the front pastedown, and most of the catalogue covers bear his signature. Binding somewhat worn at extremities; rear board professionally reattached. Very good or better. A wonderful volume, bringing together several important antebellum auction catalogues, from the library of Mark W. Collet, who would be tragically killed in the war. Most notable for including the 1851 sale of the Dr. Lewis Roper collection, which is considered the first important American coin auction. Roper (c. 1806–1850) was a Philadelphia dentist and early American numismatist. He was well-known to the Mint establishment, testifying to the avidity of his collecting. Roper headed west during the Gold Rush, and died at sea while returning home in 1850.

His collection reflected the varied tastes of the time. In the American series, the sale featured Comitia Americana and War of 1812 medals, a few Franklin medals, four Gobrecht dollars, a 1792 Washington Head half dollar, colonial coins, presidential medals, etc. A Stony Point medal in gold sold for $38 to Fales (the catalogue doesn't mention the actual recipient of the medal, though Charles Bushnell recorded in his copy that it was de Fleury—which is puzzling because de Fleury was not presented with a gold medal—see Adams & Bentley on the Anthony Wayne gold medal and the predecessor created by Duvivier). Also featured were collections of French medals and coins, English coins, German and other European series, long runs of ancient Greek and Roman coins, etc. Buyers included Joseph J. Mickley, Richard Wistar Davids, Charles I. Bushnell, Henry Muhlenberg, Ammi Brown, Jeremiah Colburn, James H. Taylor, Henry Cook, and Jacob Giles Morris.

Attinelli wrote in Numisgraphics (page 8) that, "This is, it is believed, the first coin sale in this country, in which sufficient interest was manifested by numismatists to take note of the prices paid for coins, and who were the purchasers." The Roper sale is one of the great landmarks in American numismatic literature, and is rare, with perhaps a dozen or so copies known. This copy is from the first state, without the Thomas firm's full "Philada." address printed at the base of the last page (see P. Scott Rubin's "Variants of the 1851 Roper Auction Sale Catalogue," in the Fall 1998 issue of The Asylum). The existence of a second state of the catalogue that goes out of its way to specify the city in which the sale was being held testifies that the news of the upcoming auction had spread to other locales, indicating the growing interest in the hobby.

The other catalogues in this volume are also significant. The second catalogue, primarily a book sale, includes 135 lots of coins and medals (uncharacteristically, Attinelli records only 92 lots), and featuring 61 lots of important works on ancient and foreign coins and medals. Attinelli 12. The Bogert sale is Adams 2 in his listing of Bangs catalogues. It is Sage's most significant catalogue, and one of the most important U.S. sales of the 1850s. The sale contained important pieces and brought $2,198.47, a record at the time. This copy is priced and named. The addenda is scarce. Q. David Bowers has written a wonderful book about Sage and the birth of the coin hobby in the United States, which is well worth reading. Attinelli 13–14. Davis 894.

The Bramhall catalogue is very scarce. Bramhall, a collector from New York who had served as the second curator of the ANS, also fought in the Civil War and was badly wounded in the head at the Battle of Wilderness on May 6, 1864. Apparently, he never fully recovered. Not listed by Adams. Attinelli 14. The gentleman of the June 1859 Sage sale was James D. Foskett. Attinelli 14. The June 21–23, 1859 catalogue is Adams 3 for the Bangs series: "1799 1¢, late date proofs. 1792 Washington 1¢. Higley 1¢. VF 1794 $1. NE 12¢. Baltimore groat. 1857, 1858 proof sets." Mainly the property of John K. Curtis. In this sale, Joseph Mickley purchased for $11.00 his fabled 1799 large cent, lot 140, a "superb" specimen.

The Whitmore sale is Adams 4 in his listing of Bangs catalogues, and was Sage's final auction—this copy is priced and named. Attinelli 15. The 1859 Levick sale was the first Cogan auction printed as a traditional catalogue. It is strong in early copper and proofs, as well as Washingtonia and tokens. Scarce, especially priced with names recorded. Adams 5. Attinelli 15–16.

  K-F Sale 168 Lot 453 Mark W. Collet Roper collection Collet Roper sale page 13

Philadelphia numismatist Mark Wilkes Collet was a medical doctor and token collector who had been one of the founders of the Philadelphia Numismatic Society. With J. Ledyard Hodge and Alfred B. Taylor, he had published in 1858 a Catalogue of American Store Cards, Etc., which was one of the first publications on the subject. Collet had enlisted as a Major in the 3rd New Jersey Volunteers (Infantry) on May 22, 1861. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and then to Colonel, as which he served the 1st New Jersey Infantry. His death on May 3, 1863 at the Battle of Chancellorsville took from the hobby a numismatist of considerable promise. This is a historically important volume. Ex Wayne Homren Library.

This came from the library of Donald Miller of Indiana, PA, but was not part of my purchase of that collection. I was offered this by Charlie "Cheech" Litman of The Coin Exchange in downtown Pittsburgh when I stopped in at lunch one day. He'd purchased the volume from Miller's widow along with his token collection sometime after I'd bought the Miller library. While disappointed that it had been overlooked in what I thought was my purchase of his complete library, I was delighted to have the opportunity to acquire it, and we quickly came to a deal. -Editor

To read the complete lot description, see:
1850s Auction Catalogues Including the 1851 Roper Sale (

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