Throwback Thursday: The ANA’s first librarian

February 12, 2015 By ekr


Samuel Hudson Chapman served as the first librarian of the American Numismatic Association. In the January 1892 edition of The Numismatist there is a short biography about Chapman, his life and his passion for numismatics. “Mr. Chapman’s love for study and research has been largely instrumental in the forming of the finest numismatic library that probably exists today in America, and his information and knowledge is always cheerfully given to collectors.”

Chapman was born on July 15, 1857. At the age of 10, he began collecting miscellaneous items, but he didn’t collect coins until he worked for a coin dealer many years later. It is said that his love for numismatics came from his mother, who had a large collection herself. “Like many other numismatists, he is married only to the science, consequently can give his attention to his ‘hobby’ undisturbed. He has no side business to engage his time, unless it be when a ‘subject’ for photographing happens along as he is a successful amateur in that line.”

Chapman’s interest in coins blossomed, and he and his brother started their own firm in 1878 when the young men were only 19 and 21 years old. The company was named The Numismatic House of S.H. & H. Chapman and had a fantastic reputation. The brothers were known for their vast array of numismatic knowledge and for being very honest dealers. Today, many auction catalogs are modelled after the Chapman brothers’ successful work. In The Numismatist it is written, “The most noted collections catalogued and sold by the firm have been the Bushnell ($13,950), Cleneay ($16,005,500), Warner ($7,500), Haines, Bridgman, Bispham and Lefferts collections, besides many of less celebrity.”
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