APPLETON, WILLIAM SUMNER

APPLETON, WILLIAM SUMNER

[Figure 1. Portrait of William Sumner Appleton from The American Journal of Numismatics, January 1904]


Copyright © 2011-2018 John N. Lupia III



Appleton, William Sumner (1840-1903), Tycoon, Lawyer, Author, Scholar in Numismatics, Heraldry and Genealogy, Collector of Coins and Medals, Philanthropist.

 

Various residential addresses are : 18 Somerset Street, Boston, Massachusetts.; 462 Beacon Street, Boston, Massachusetts; in 1870, 57, Boston, Massachusetts; in 1880, 39, Boston, Massachusetts; in 1899, 29 Dedham Street, Newton, Massachusetts. 

 

He was born at Boston, Massachusetts, on January 11, 1840, son of Hon. Congressman Nathan Appleton (1779-1861) and Harriot Coffin (1802-1867). His father, a native of New Hampshire, moved to Massachusetts and became a wealthy merchant and Congressman at Boston with an estate valued at $95,000, and four live-in-servants in the 1850 U. S. Census. The 1860 Census shows his father’s estate valued at $430,000. His father was a Fellow of the Academy and wrote on commerce and currency.

 

In 1856, William Sumner Appleton entered Harvard University and over the next decade graduated with three degrees : B.A. 1860;  A.M. 1864; LL.B 1865.

 

Immediately after graduation in 1860 he traveled to Canada and the Western States.

 

He inherited a fortune from his father upon his death in 1861 leaving him independently wealthy without any need for gainful employment.

 

In April of 1862 he went abroad on his first of six European sojourns during his lifetime.

 

He was proficient in several foreign languages including Latin, French and German. He was a member of the Massachusetts Historical Society and a Fellow of the American Academy, a life member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

 

From 1864 to 1872 he was on the Publishing Committee of the New England Historical and Genealogical Register.

 

In July of 1865, two weeks after graduating from Harvard Law School, he sailed for Europe where he remained until about August 1866, traveling throughout Europe and the Middle East.

 

In 1865 to 1868 he was on the Publishing Committee and became editor of the Heraldic Journal. He was an avid and prolific genealogical and numismatic author publishing numerous articles in several journals.


          In 1867 he was appointed as a member of the commission to attend the annual assay of the United States Mint at Philadelphia. Later that year he published a landmark article on the Admiral Vernon Medals.

 

In February 1868, he purchased an 1804 Silver Dollar from Edward D. Cogan (1803-1884), a pre-eminent coin dealer, by trading duplicates from his collection for the equivalent value of $775.00.[1]

In June of 1868 he made the Grand Tour, a journey around the world. In January of 1869 he sailed from Marseilles for Bombay and the Far East and arrived in San Francisco in autumn of 1869.

 

During his absence amidst travels he was elected a member of the Massachusetts Historical Society in May 1869.

 

The 1870 U.S. Census lists William Sumner Appleton as a retired lawyer with an estate valued at $500,000. He was not married at the time and had three live-in-maids and a butler.

 

         From July of 1870 to1891, he served on the Committee of Publication and helped edit the American Journal of Numismatics, and Bulletin of American Numismatic and Archaeological Societies. Quarterly.

On December 22, 1870 he attended the coin auction sale of collection of W. Lincoln by Leonard & Company at Boston, Massachusetts.[2]

 

From February to March 1871 he traveled to the Southern States and then to Cuba.

 

He left in June 1871 for Europe for more than a year. Before leaving he submitted his article to be published in July 1871 titled, “Medals of Lafayette,” in The American Journal of Numismatics.[3]

 

In July 1871, while at London he won several coins at auction in Covent Gardens, from the firm of William Webster, which auctioned off 1796 and 1797 United States Half Dollars, 1796 Quarter Dollar, and dime, and 1793, 1795, 1800 uncirculated Large Cents.[4]

 

While abroad he married Edith Ida Stuart (1849-1892) of Baltimore, Maryland, on August 12, 1871 at the United States Legation in Bern, Switzerland. Prior to the newlywed couple’s return from Europe they had their first child, a daughter, born to them while at Paris.

 

From late 1872 to 1876 he remained in the United States. His 1876 passport describes him as 5 feet 9 inches tall with brown hair and hazel eyes. In November 1876 he went to Europe on his fifth journey there, returning in June of 1877.

 

In November 1878, he was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Arts and Sciences.

 

In July 1879 he published a photographic plate and article on Ancient Coins in The American Journal of Numismatics.[5]

  

The 1880 U. S. Census cites his wife Edith, three daughters, Elinor, Marjorie and Dorothy, and his son William Sumner, Jr., and nine maids. In November 1881 he had his fourth daughter, Gladys.

  

He was a founding member of the Boston Numismatic Society.  He was an astute collector of United States gold coins, ancient Greek and Roman coins and foreign coins of Germany, England and Japan in gold and silver. He owned an 1804 Silver Dollar.[6]

 

On June 6 & 7, 1882, he sold his United States Gold Eagles, Half Eagles and Quarter Eagles through W. Elliot Woodward at Boston, many went to Ebenezer Locke Mason, Jr., and John Schayer, two coin dealers at Boston.[7]

 There are seven pieces of correspondence from 1882 to 1895 between W. S. Appleton and the Chapman Brothers in the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive.

In 1885 he designed the seal of the Arms of Harvard.

 

From May 1886 to June 1889, he traveled abroad on his sixth and final trip spending most of his time in Germany, France, Belgium, England, Holland and Italy.

 

         After the death of his wife Edith on January 20, 1892, he sold his estate at Boston and moved to Newton, Massachusetts.

 

Dr. George Heath spread the rumor that Lorin Gilbert Parmelee sold his coin collection to Appleton of New York in June 1892 for $75,000.00.

 

          In February 1894, he exhibited and described two rare medals : the Oswego Medal and the Diplomatic Medal.

 

           He died on April 28, 1903 at Boston. He bequeathed his special collection of medals including his 1804 Silver Dollar to the Massachusetts Historical Society. Seventy years later some of these medals were de-accessed by the Society including the 1804 Dollar and were consigned to Stacks to be sold at auction on March 29-31, 1973.

 

            The first sale of his collection of 1,487 lots of English, United States Gold coins was sold posthumously by Charles Steigerwalt on May 21-22, 1907.  The 1,503 lots of the Appleton Collection Part II, was auctioned by Charles Steigerwalt on January 18-19, 1910. The remainder of personal his coin and library collections were sold by Thomas L. Elder on May 10, 1913 and July 8, 1913.

 

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Incomplete Bibliography of the Works of Appleton :

 

001. Proofs that general and powerful Currents have swept and worn the surface of the Earth. By Nathan Appleton. [Reprinted from the American Journal of Science and Arts (XI. 100-104) for October, 1826, and edited by his son.] (Boston, 1862)

002. Family of Nathaniel Sparhawk of Cambridge. (Reprinted from the New-England Historical and Genealogical Register (XIX. 125-127) for April, 1865)

003. The Family of Badcock of Milton, Mass. [Reprinted from the NewEngland Historical and Genealogical Register (XIX. 215-219) for July, 1865.] No imprint. 8vo. pp. (1), 5.

004. Descendants of Rev. Thomas Jenner. [Reprinted from the NewEngland Historical and Genealogical Register (XIX. 246-249) for July, 1865.] No titlepage. 8vo. pp. 3.

005. Ancestry of Mary Oliver, who lived 1640-1698, and was wife of Samuel Appleton, of Ipswich. Cambridge, 1867. 8vo. pp. 29,

006. The Heraldic Journal; recording the Armorial Bearings and Genealogies of American Families. Volume III. Boston, 1867. 8vo. pp. viii, 192. [Mr. Appleton was editor of this volume.]

007. The "Admiral Vernon Medals," American Journal of Numismatics, Vol. 2, No. 5, September (1867) : 46ff.

008. Memorials of the Cranes of Chilton, with a Pedigree of the Family, and the Life of the last Eepresentative. Cambridge, 1868. Plates and other illustrations. 8vo. pp. (1), (1), 1-34, chart, 39-89.

009. “Description of a Collection of Coins and Medals Relating to America, Exhibited to the Massachusetts Historical Society, April 28, 1870” Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, XI  (1870) : 292-305

010. Ancestry of Priscilla Baker, who lived 1674-1731, and was wife of Isaac Appleton, of Ipswich. Cambridge, 1870. Charts. 8vo. pp. (1), (1), 142.

011. Family of Foster, of Charlestown, Mass. [By Edward Jacob Forster and Mr. Appleton.] Reprinted from the New-England Historical and Genealogical Register [XXV. 67-71] for January, 1871. No imprint. 8vo. pp. 6.

012. “The Inscription UNUS NON SUFFICIT,” American Journal of Numismatics (1871)

013. “Medals of Lafayette,” in The American Journal of Numismatics, July (1871)

014. A Rough Sketch of the Appleton Genealogy. Printed for Correction and Enlargement. Boston, 1873. 8vo. pp. 42.

015. Description of Medals of Washington in the Collection of W. S. Appleton, Secretary of the Boston Numismatic Society. [Reprinted from the American Journal of Numismatics (VII. 73-78; VIII. 1-9, 33-41) for April, July, and October, 1873.] Boston, 1873. 8vo. pp. 24.

016. “Newspaper Cuttings,” American Journal of Numismatics (1873)

017. A Genealogy of the Appleton Family. Boston, 1874. 8vo. pp. 54.

018. “Five Cent Pieces of 1861,” American Journal of Numismatics (1875)

019. Issues of the United States Mint, chronologically arranged, and described. Reprinted from the American Journal of Numismatics (IX. 86-89; X. 7-11, 38-41, 55-58, 81-83, for April, July, October, 1875, January and April, 1876). 1876. No place. 8vo. pp. 20.

020. Record of the Descendents of William Sumner of Dorchester, Massachusetts, 1636 (David Clapp & Son Printers, Boston, Massachusetts, 1879)

021. “Mules and Mulling,” American Journal of Numismatics (1880)

022. [Thomas] Gray and [Rowland] Coytmore. Two English Wills, printed for W. S. Appleton. [Reprinted from the New-England Historical and Genealogical Register (XXXIV. 253-259) for July, 1880.] Boston, 1880. 8vo. pp. (1), 7.

023. Additions and Corrections to Sumner Genealogy. To January, 1881. No titlepage. 8vo. pp. 3.

024. Some Descendants of William Adams of Ipswich, Mass. [Enlarged from the New-England Historical and Genealogical Register (XVIII. 244) for July, 1864.] Boston, 1881. 8vo. pp. (1), 8.

025. The Family of Badcock of Massachusetts. [Corrected and enlarged from the New-England Historical and Genealogical Register (XIX. 215-219) for July, 1865.] Boston, 1881. 8vo. pp. (1), 11.

026. Additions and Corrections to Sumner Genealogy. To January, 1882. No titlepage. 8vo. pp. 4.

027. The Family of Puffer of Massachusetts. [Corrected and enlarged from the New-England Historical and Genealogical Register (XXII. 288-290) for July, 1868.] Boston, 1882. 8vo. pp. (1), 9.

028. Additions and Corrections to Sumner Genealogy. To January, 1883. No titlepage. 8vo. pp. 3.

029. A Report [9th] of the Record Commissioners containing Boston Births, Baptisms, Marriages, and Deaths, 1630-1699. Boston, 1883. 8vo. pp. vii, 281.

030. Additions and Corrections to Sumner Genealogy. To January, 1886. No titlepage. 8vo. pp. 3.

031. Major-General Edwin V. Sumner. From "History of the Second Army Corps in the Army of the Potomac," by Brig.-Gen. Francis A. Walker. 1887. No titlepage. 8vo. pp. 4.

032. Additions and Corrections to Sumner Genealogy. To January, 1890. No titlepage. 8vo. pp. 3.

033. Augustin Dupre, and his Work for America. Remarks made before the Massachusetts Historical Society, March 13, 1890. [Reprinted from the Proceedings (2d series, V. 348-352).] Cambridge, 1890. 8vo. pp. 6.

034. A Report [21st] of the Record Commissioners of the City of Boston, containing Dorchester Births, Marriages, and Deaths to the end pf 1825. Boston, 1890. 8vo. pp. iv, 392.

035. Some Descendants of William Sawyer of Newbury, Mass. [Corrected and Enlarged from the New-England Historical and Genealogical Register (XXVIII. 194-198) for April, 1874.] Boston, 1891. 8vo. pp. (1), 11.

036. Positive Pedigrees and Authorized Arms of New England. [Reprinted from the New-England Historical and Genealogical Register (XLV. 187-190) for July, 1891.] Boston, 1891. 8vo. pp. 10.

037. The Loyal Petitions of 1666. Remarks read before the Massachusetts Historical Society, June 11, 1891. [Reprinted from the Proceedings (2d series, VI. 469-477).] Cambridge, 1891. 8vo. pp. 10.

038. Additions and Corrections to Sumner Genealogy. To January, 1892. No titlepage. 8vo. pp. 3.

039. A partial Bibliography of the Sumner Family. [Boston, 1892.] No titlepage. 8vo. pp. 3.

040. The Family of Merriam of Massachusetts. [Corrected and Enlarged from the New-England Historical and Genealogical Register (XXII. 160, 161; XXIV. 164, 165) for April, 1868, and April, 1870.] Boston, 1892. 8vo. pp. (1), 15.

041. Early Wills illustrating the Ancestry of Harriot Coffin, with Genealogical and Biographical Notes, by her Grandson. Boston, 1893. Portrait. 8vo. pp. (1), (1), 86.

042. “A New Coin Suggestion,” American Journal of Numismatics (1893)

043. A Report [24th] of the Record Commissioners of the City of Boston, containing Boston Births from A. D. 1700 to A. D. 1800. Boston, 1894. 8vo. pp. iv, 379.

044. Additions and Corrections to Sumner Genealogy. To January, 1895. No titlepage. 8vo. pp. 3.

045. A Century of the Senate of the United States. Prepared by William S. Appleton. Communicated to the Massachusetts Historical Society at its Meeting 14 March, 1895, and Reprinted from its Proceedings (2d series, X. 9-11, and charts). 8vo. pp. (1), (1), chart.

046. Gatherings toward a Genealogy of the Coffin Family. Boston, 1896. 8vo. pp. (1), (1), 53.

047. Views of Unitarian Belief held by a Layman of Boston. Written for the Unitarian Club of Boston, but never read before it. Cambridge, 1896. 8vo. pp. 12.

048. Additions and Corrections to Sumner Genealogy. To January, 1897. No titlepage. 8vo. pp. 5.

049. The Whigs of Massachusetts. Read before the Massachusetts Historical Society at the Meeting of March 11,1897, and Reprinted from the Proceedings [2d series, XI. 278-282]. Cambridge, 1897. 8vo. pp. 7.

050. Additions to Positive Pedigrees and Authorized Arras of New England/ printed in the [New-England Historical and Genealogical] Register for July, 1891. [Reprinted from the Register (LII. 185) for April, 1898.] 8vo. 1 p.

051. Index to Testators in Waters's Genealogical Gleanings in England in the New-England Historical and Genealogical Register, Volumes XXXVII-LII. [Reprinted from the Register (LII. xiii-xxx) for October, 1898.] Boston: printed for the Society, 1898. 8vo. pp. 20.

052. The Family of Armistead of Virginia. Printed for W. S. Appleton. [Taken from a History of the Family in Virginia by Lyon G. Tyler, printed in the William and Mary College Quarterly (VI. and VII., Richmond, 1898, 1899), and "arranged in simple genealogical shape " by Mr. Appleton, with some additions by him.] Cambridge, 1899. 8vo. pp. 23.

053. Additions and Corrections to Sumner Genealogy. To January, 1900. No titlepage. 8vo. pp. 3.

054. Memoir of William Henry Whitmore. [Reprinted from the Proceedings (2d series, XV. 96-104) of the Massachusetts Historical Society for May 9, 1901.] Cambridge, 1901. Portrait. 8vo. pp. 16.

055. Additions and Corrections to Sumner Genealogy. To January, 1902. No titlepage. 8vo. pp. 3.

056. Family Letters from the Bodleian Library. With Notes. Cambridge, 1902. 8vo. pp. 68.

 

 

Bibliography :

 

Sylvester Sage Crosby, The Early Coins of America; and the laws governing their issue. Comprising also descriptions of the Washington pieces, the Anglo-American tokens, many pieces of unknown origin, of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and the first patterns of the United States mint. By Sylvester S. Crosby. (Boston, 1875)

Allibone's Critical Dictionary of English Literature: A Supplement. British and American authors. Two volumes. By John Foster Kirk. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1891.

“Our Numismatic Directory” List No. 3, No. 32, The Numismatist, Vol. 3, No. 3 & 4, February (1891) : 17

The Numismatist, Vol. 4, No. 6, June (1892) : 96

Gnecchi, Ercole and Francesco, eds., Guida Numismatica 4th edition. (Milano : U. Hoepli, 1903. Edition) : 527, No. 5309

British Numismatic Journal (1903) :461

American Journal of Numismatics, Vol. 37, April (1903) : 126-127

Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, October (1903)

Charles C. Smith, “Memoir of William Sumner Appleton, A.M.,” American Journal of Numismatics, Vol. 38, January (1904) : Photo

“The Boston Numismatic Society,” Elder Monthly, Vol. II, No. 2, April (1907) : 18

The Numismatist,  No. 1, January (1910) : 28

Adelson, Howard L., The American Numismatic Society, 1858-1959. (New York, ANS, 1958)

Adams, John W., United States Numismatic Literature. Volume 1. Nineteenth Century Auction Catalogs. (1982) : 111;

Sigler 118-120

Gengerke, Martin, American Numismatic Auctions, Vol. 3 (1987)

Walter Breen’s Encyclopedia

Q. David Bowers, The Rare Silver Dollars Dated 1804 and the Exciting Adventure of Edmund Roberts. (Wolfeboro, 1999)

Vermeule;

W. Stewart Wallace, A Dictionary of North American Authors Deceased before 1950. (Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1951).

ANA Library Catalog RM80.W3A6

Pete Smith, “American Numismatic Pioneers : An Index to Sources,” Asylum Vol. XXII, No. 3, Consecutive Issue No. 87, Summer (2004) : 284

Q. David Bowers, The Expert’s Guide to Collecting & Investing in Rare Coins. (Racine, WI : Whitman Publishing Co., 2005) : 636

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



[1] Eric P. Newman and Kenneth E. Bressett, The Fantastic 1804 Dollar (Whitman Publishing Co., 1962) : 122

[2] “Boston Coin Sale,” Mason’s Coin and Stamp Collectors’ Magazine, Vol. V, No. 1, January (1871) : 14

[3] Brief comment by Ebenezer Locke Mason, Jr., See “Reviews,” Mason’s Coin and Stamp Collectors’ Magazine, Vol. V, No. 8, August (1871) : 126

[4] “A London Coin Dealer,” Mason’s Coin Collectors’ Magazine, Vol. VI, No. 2, February (1872) : 27-28

[5] “American Journal of Numismatics, Boston, Mass.,” Mason’s Coin Collectors’ Herald, Vol. 1, No. 2, February (1879) : 17a

[6] “Another 1804 Dollar,” Mason’s Coin and Stamp Collectors’ Magazine, Vol. II, No. 4, July (1868) : 36a; see also Mason’s Coin Collectors’ Magazine, Vol. I, No. 12, May (1885) : 122; also, Mason’s Coin Collectors’ Magazine, Vol. XIII, No. 1, June (1890) : 5.

[7] “A Word to the Wise,” Mason’s Coin Collectors’ Magazine, Vol. IV., No. 1, June (1882) : 15; also in No. 2, September (1882) : 27


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