Copyright 2011-2018 John N. Lupia III

Fig. Engraved portrait of Samuel Bispham, in The History of Philadelphia, 1609-1884 (1884) Volume 3 .

Samuel Bispham (1796-1885), was born on October 14, 1796, on Market Street, Philadelphia, son of Samuel Bispham (1753-1808), a hatter, and Anna Ellis Bispham. His grandfather Joshua Bispham (1706-), came to America 1738 from Bispham, Lancashire, England and settled as a farmer in Moorestown, Burlington County, New Jersey. There he married  Ruth Atkinson (1718-).  They had two sons Samuel and Joseph. Samuel Bispham, Sr. came to Philadelphia with his younger brother Joseph Bispham in 1772. During the yellow fever epidemic 1798-1799 in Philadelphia, Samuel Bispham, Sr., and his family moved to the family farm in Moorestown. Adolescent Samuel used to travel into Philadelphia to help sell the farm produce.

In 1808, after the death of his father he worked for William Carman's grocery store on Market Street. He stayed there until 1810 then entering the firm of John Snyder, also on Market Street, working as a bookkeeper and salesman.

In 1815, he became partners with Jacob Alter, opening a grocery store, Alter & Bispham, 825 Market Street.

In 1830, Atler retired and Bispham became sole proprietor.

In 1834, he purchased the building at 629 Market Street, from Horner & Wilson. At the formation of the Henry Clay Whig Party Samuel Bispham joined as a loyal member until its dissolution in 1860.

On December 25, 1823, he married Maria Stokes (1796-1880) at Burlington, New Jersey. They  had six children : four sons - Samuel Augustus Bispham (1827-1885), John Stokes Bispham (1829-1897),  William Danforth Bispham (1831-1888), and James Lippincott Bispham (1833-1918), and two daughters Anna Stokes Bispham Bowen (1824-1886), and Maria Ellis Bispham (1836-1907).

Fig. Correspondence from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, May 9, 1849, Red CDS, 10 cts. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For Sale Estimate $70. Write

Fig. Sturgess Bennet & Co., New York correspondence selling coffee dated March 12, 1851, Red CDS 5cts.  Beautiful and sharp embossed logo of  
Sturgess Bennet & Co. on laid paper. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For Sale Estimate $50. Write

In 1851, he brought his two sons into the business forming Samuel Bispham & Sons, wholesale grocers and commission merchants in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Fig. Postmarked Washington, D. C., July 7, 1858, franked with Scott 26A Type IV 
Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For Sale Estimate $150. Write

Fig. Dutilh, Cook & Co., auctioneers, correspondence selling their segars, dated July 14, 1858, Blood's Penny Post (Scarce Type 15). Bispham called the cigars "Dam'd" since he opposed smoking tobacco. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For Sale Estimate $90. Write

He was a director of Penn National Bank, having been one of the early subscribers to the bank when it opened as the Bank of Penn Township.

Fig. Correspondence with his attorney suing for payment from Sarah Herr in arrears $415, dated December 25, 1860, franked by two Scott 26A, Octagonal cancel. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For Sale Estimate $250. Write

Fig. Dutilh, Cook & Co., auctioneers, correspondence selling their groceries, dated April 4, 1861, Blood's Penny Post (Scarce Very Late Variant Type 15). Postmarked 8 days prior to the U. S. Civil War outbreak. On April 12, after Lincoln ordered a fleet to resupply Sumter, Confederate artillery fired the first shots of the Civil War. Blood's Despatch ceased on January 10, 1862. This cover dates to the last eight months of the Blood's Despatch existence.  Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For Sale Estimate $175. Write

Fig. Greene & King correspondence postmarked Dayton, Ohio, August 29, 1864. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For Sale Estimate $50. Write

He served as a member of the board of the Schuylkill Navigation Company. He also serbed as a director of the Reliance Insurance Company.

Fig. Correspondence  postmarked May 19, 1867, with rare Station A 1st delivery very early use first 20 days (Clarke # S 4c A), franked with scarce well-centered Scott #73, target cancel. Ex-Richard "Dick" Frajola (1983). Frajola was one of the contributors to Tom Clarke to help write Philadelphia Postmarks. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For Sale Estimate $150. Write

Fig. Group of six letters of correspondence from various merchants - 5 from Ohio, and one from New York. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library.

Fig. Charles Steigerwalt asking if he can add a few coins to the Bispham Sale in February 1880. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive.

Fig. Samuel Bispham correspondence to Henry Chapman at his New York address 412 East 23rd Street during the Bangs auction sale, postmarked February 15, early use of cancel Clarke 136a #8, 14th day of issue. Since Henry Chapman returned to Philadelphia about that date the post office corrected the address sending it to his home in Philadelphia. 
Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive.

His coin collection was sold by the Chapman Brothers from February 11-12, 1880, at Bangs & Company, New York. The 38 page catalogue comprised 1024 lots. The 1794 Silver Dollar sold for $27. The 1836 Gobrecht Dollar sold for $42.10. Chalmers Shilling $5.50. 1815 Half Eagle $150. Wyon's Immune Columbia Pattern $36. Proof Washington Before Boston $7.50. Three Kettle brass imitation tokens of U. S. $2.50 and $5 gold pieces Lot 797  sold for 6 cents each.

He died on October 4, 1885, ten days before his 89th birthday at his home 263 North 6th Street, Philadelphia. He is buried at Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia.

Bibliography :

Biographies of Successful Philadelphia Merchants (1864)
The Biographical Encyclopedia of Pennsylvania (1874)
"The Bispham Collection" American Journal of Numismatics, April (1880) : 103
John Thomas Scharf and Thompson Westcott, The History of Philadelphia, 1609-1884 (1884) Volume 3 : 2223-2225
"Kettle Imitations," The Numismatist, June (1945) : 610
Lorraine Sandra Durst, United States Numismatic Auction Catalogs (1981) : 79
John Weston Adams, United States Numismatic Literature, Vol. 1, (1982) : 84, 85
Pete Smith, American Numismatic Biographies
John W. Jordon, Colonial and Revolutionary Families of Philadelphia  (2004) 
Martin Gengerke, American Numismatic Auction (2007)

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