ADLER, JONAS

ADLER, JONAS

Copyright © 2011-2018 John N. Lupia III

Jonas Adler AKA Joseph Jonas Adler (1859-?), was born on April 23, 1859, at Cincinnati,  Ohio of Prussian-German Jewish immigrant parents, Heinrich "Henry" Adler, a metalworker. Jonas entered the metalworking trade and worked as a brass finisher and tinner or tinsmith. However, we do not find his father Henry Adler, a metalworker, listed in Cincinnati City Directories 1859-1861.

Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Coin dealer, swindler. He issued a Fixed Price Catalogue in 1879. On February 21st, 1879, he was proposed as a member of the Western Pennsylvania Numismatic Society.  Adler was a part-time coin dealer who would later catalog an auction sale of 225 lots of United States and Foreign Coins and Medals, at the D.F. Henry auction house at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on April 30, 1879.

    Though he was a proposed member of the Western Pennsylvania Numismatic Society it ended as a status quo"The President appointed Mr. J. E. H. Kelley as teller - a vote then being taken and Mr. Kelley announced that more than three (3) votes had been cast in the negative." Members Morgan, McKnight, Kelley, Gies, Sermin, Shipman, Kirk, Comingo, and Rode were present. Article VII of the Society Bylaws states that three negative votes shall prevent the election of a prospective member." Apparently he had already developed a reputation for himself. His coin sale of April 1879 would be his first and last auction. 


Fig. Arrest of Jonas Adler for taking property of E. E. Cotton. This is the case Ed Frossard referred to in Numisma. Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Thursday, July 3, 1879, page 2

Ed Frossard wrote in the July 1879 issue of Numisma:

    "Dealers sending coins on approval to Mr. Jonas Adler, Pittsburgh, PA., will do well, if they wish to assure a safe delivery, to address the distinguished coin dealer in care of one of the Town Justices, or of the Sheriff of the County."

The September 1879 issue of Mason's Coin Collectors' Herald included an open letter to Adler:

    "You seem to be doing a wholesale coin business on credit; but in reply to your many solicitations we say patronize those who give 30 days and send us cash at half price you pay on credit. Perhaps the credit system pays you best."

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Monday, March 1, 1880, published the Trial List for Monday and Jonas Adler is listed. The Pisstburg Daily Post on March 2, 1880, and Friday, March 5,  published his name for trials in court today. 

Fig. Jonas Adler bought or attempted to buy coins pretending to be a member of the Numismatic Society  of Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Daily Post, Saturday, March 6, 1880, page 3

The 1880 U. S. Census places him in  Claremont Prison or Allegheny County Workhouse working as a tinner or tinsmith.

In 1881 - 1884 the Pittsburgh City Directories lists him living at  94  Washington Street working as a brass finisher.

Possibly our Jonas Adler announced he was the secretary of the Sketch Club of Pittsburgh and sent out circulars regarding a contents that offered $50 in prizes to the best winning sketches submitted in black and white or water colors. The Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Monday, January 30, 1882, page 4

The November 1884 issue of Numisma states:

      "Jonas Adler, Pittsburgh, PA., has been rusticating at Claremont Springs, at municipal expenses for swindling a Fifth Ave., cigar dealer in a transaction of old coins. A.A.A. No. 1,     first-class preferred petty swindler. Coin collectors, beware of Jonas!"


In 1885 he lived at 292 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

He was married on December 31, 1885, to Julia A. McCarthy (1864-). In 1887 the Pittsburgh City Directory lists him living at 74 River Avenue.

In 1888, Joseph J. Adler, a Tinner, lived at 60 Rush Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Another criminal record of his at the Allegheny County Workhouse cites his name as of J. J. Adler, Jewish, sentenced to two years for "False Pretenses" on November 7, 1888, shows he was released on August 26, 1890.


In 1907 the Pittsburgh City Directory lists a Joseph Adler, a Tinner,  living at 60 1/2 Logan Street. Unfortunately another Joseph J. Adler, (1870-1924), born in Russia, also working as a Tinner, lived in Pittsburgh who arrived in the U. S. A. in 1904, making the distinction between the two difficult. The other Joseph Adler was married to Rebecca Fienstein and they had at least one son, Harry. 

Fig. If this is our Jonas Adler the then 58 year old is in another case. 
The Pittsburgh Daily Post, Saturday, December 14, 1918, page 13.

Possibly our Jonas Adler, if so then 64 years of age, was being sued for $6,000 in damages resulting from an automobile accident. Pittsburg Daily Post, Sunday, March 23, 1924, page 55.

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Bibliography :

Mason's Coin Collectors' Herald,Vol. I, No. 2, September (1879) : 16b-c;

Wayne K. Homren, “The Early History of the Western Pennsylvania Numismatic Society,” http://www.coinlibrary.com -OR- Write to:  whomren@coinlibrary.com

Gengerke, Martin, American Numismatic Auctions, 8th edition (1990) : 2;

Edouard Frossard, “Coin Sales,”  Numisma, Vol. 8, No. 6, November (1884) : 6

Pittsburgh City Directory (1888) : 86


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