Copyright 2011-2018 John N. Lupia, III
Fig. 1. Otho Jacob Bierly circa 1900.

Otho Jacob Bierly (1871-1957), was born on October 15, 1871, at Funkstown, Washington County, Maryland, son of Jacob H. Bierly (1847-), a blacksmith and a native of Hagerstown,Washington County, Maryland, and Mary Ellen Leckrone (1851-),  also a native of Hagerstown,Washington County, Maryland.

            In the 1896 Baltimore City Directory he is listed as a motorman living at 610 North Monroe Street, Baltimore, Maryland.

            In the 1899 Baltimore City Directory he is listed as a manager at 503 West Franklin Street, Baltimore, Maryland.

            He joined the ANA in November 1900, and became ANA Member No. 210.

            In 1901, he is listed in Wallace's American Trotting Register, as the owner of Ella Cain, a thoroughbred Mare, at Funkstown, Maryland. Sometime in 1901, he moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

            In April 1902, he applied for membership in the A.N.A. and in May became ANA Member No. 210. He lived at 122 St. Clair Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

            In 1905, his address was 201 North Highland Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Fig. 2. O. J. Bierly correspondence with Samuel H. Chapman on his graphic illustrated numismatic stationery, postmarked machine cancel June 19, 1905, strip of 2 Scott #300. He advertised he was a dealer in coins, medals and paper money soliciting to buy and sell. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive.

            In August 1905 his ANA Member Number changed from 210 to 707.

            In 1908 his address was 6710 Frankstown Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Fig. One of several letters between 
Otho J. Bierly and John Gideon Laidacker. This one postmarked March 17, 1908. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Laidacker Family Correspondence Archive. There are nearly 600 items in the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Laidacker Family Correspondence Archive, which are offered for sale. One party has already shown interest in purchasing the collection. 

            In May 1909 he was the founder and first president of The American Society of Antique Weapons, the first organization of gun collectors in America.

Fig. Otho J. Bierly correspondence with Farran Zerbe postmarked January 4, 1909, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library.

Fig. 3. Bierly kept his gun valuable collection estimated at $75,000 on exhibition at the Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He owned 100 varieties of pepperbox pistols.  Baltimore Sun, Saturday, December 25, 1909, page 6.

Fig. 4. Bierly's advertisement to buy old pistols and revolvers published in Baltimore Sun, Saturday, February 12, 1910, page 3.

            In July 1911, he is listed in The Curio Collector, Vol. II, No. II, on page 42 as an antique dealer in old firearms, powder horns, powder flasks, and Indian relics.

Fig. 5. Bierly's collection had three revolvers stolen from the exhibition case at The Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on March 11, 1914, Pittsburgh Daily Post, Wednesday, March 11, 1914, page 3.

            In June 1914, he was a graduate of the Emory Brother hood Bible Class, at Emory Methodist Episcopal Church, Highland Avenue and Rippey Street,  Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was one of 46 polic officers to take the bible course and graduate.

            In the 1915 Pittsburgh City Directory he is listed as a Policeman living at 5917 Rippey Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Fig. 6. Business Card of Otho Jacob Bierly circa 1900. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library.

            He dropped out of the ANA in 1918.

            In April 1923 he bought a house at 7717 Kelly Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

            In July 1924 he loaned antique pottery pieces to the Fenway Court of the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum, Boston, Massachusetts.

Fig. 7. Business advertisement of Bierly's Antique Shop, 7717 Kelly Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pittsburg Press, Sunday, March 23, 1930, page 43.

 Fig. 8. O. J. Bierly's antique collection of eight rare toy banks  on display at the Farmers Bank. At the time there were only six known collectors of antique toy banks in the country. Pittsburgh Post GazetteMonday, February 15, 1932, page 8.
           In 1936 he moved back to his native Funkstown and lived with his sister Annie (1889-), and brother-in-law John White Johnson (1881-) at their home on Baltimore Street.

            In August 1956 he was hospitalized at Washington County Hospital and released.

            He died on December 12, 1957 at Hagerstown,Washington County, Maryland.
Fig. 9. O. J. Bierly's Tomb, Funkstown Cemetery, 
Frankstown, Maryland.

His sister Eva Kesselring was an administrator of his estate together with George Bidgely.

Fig. 10. O. J. Bierly's Collection was sold at auction on Saturday, November 15, 1958, Ruth's Antique Shop, Funkstown, Maryland. The News, Friday, November 14, 1958, page 14.

Bibliography :

Wallace's American Trotting Register, Vol. XV, Part II (Chicago :American Trotting Register Association, 1901) : "Ella Cain" 401
The Numismatist, May (1902) : 153
The Numismatist, July (1905) : 216
"Gun Collectors Form Scientific Society," Pittsburgh Daily Post, Sunday, May 2, 1909, page 15
The Numismatist, September (1908) : 287 he is now called Otho J. Bierly instead of Otis J. Bierly
Philatelic West, April (1909) ad for pistols 3rd leaf from end.
Baltimore Sun, Saturday, December 25, 1909, page 6.
The Curio Collector, Vol. II, No. II, July (1911) : 42
Pittsburgh Daily Post, Wednesday, March 11, 1914, page 3.
Pittsburgh PressWednesday, June 24, 1914, page 13
Pittsburgh Post GazetteSunday, April 8, 1923, page 22
Pittsburgh Daily PostSunday, July 27, 1924, page 53
Pittsburg Press, Sunday, March 23, 1930, page 43.
Pittsburgh Post GazetteMonday, February 15, 1932, page 8.
Stephen V. Grancsay, American Engraved Powder Horns : A Study Based on the J. H. Grenville Collection.  (New York : The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1945) : 66
The News, Friday, November 14, 1958, page 14.

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