BROWN, JULIUS LEWIS

Copyright 2011-2018 John N. Lupia, III


Fig. Photograph of Julius L. Brown circa 1901 published in Pioneer Citizens' History of Atlanta 1833 - 1902, page 258.

The New York Times obituary dubbed him "The Collector of the Rare in All Things"

Julius Lewis Brown (1848-1910), was born on May 31, 1848, the eldest of eight children, son of Joseph Emerson Brown (1821-1894), Governor of Georgia, Chief Justice, and U. S. Senator, and Elisabeth Grishom Brown (1826-1896), at Canton, Cherokee County, Georgia.

His family was of Scotch-Irish Protestant descent. His father was a state senator for many years and served four terms as the state governor. . He attended school at Milledgeville, Baldwin County, Georgia and later studied law like his father. 

During the Civil War Julius turned down his father's offer to send him to Europe for his education choosing instead the Georgia State Military Academy. Brown and his brother cadets formed a militia to defend Athens. Brown was placed in charge of guarding Yankee prisoners. In 1864, he joined the Georgia Military Institute Infantry Battalion serving as Color Corporal of Company A, during the Civil War, and defended Atlanta. He fought with Wheeler's calvary and slowed down Sherman's advance to Savannah. He was part of the rear guard on the retreat from Savannah. Afterwards he went to Georgia Tech.

He graduated Harvard Law School in 1870. He worked as an attorney at Atlanta Georgia and was the attorney for Western & Atlanta Railroads (1870-1890), and as General Counsel for the State of Georgia co-incorporator of the Metropolitan Street Railroad.

On November 8, 1871 he married Frances "Fannie" Gilmer Fort (1849-), of Macon, Georgia at her home. They had two daughters : Martha Fort Brown (1872-1907), and Elisabeth Fort Brown (1876-1877), and a son Martin Brown (1873-1874).

He served as Assistant to the United States District Attorney from 1870-1872.

As an initial investor with his father he became president of the Georgia Mining, Manufacturing and Investment Company. He also became president of the Walker Monument Association in the erection of the monument to Confederate Major General William Henry Talbot Walker (1816-1864), killed at the Battle of Atlanta.

Brown began writing the Chapman Brothers in the first half of 1878 attested to by correspondence found in the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive. He purchased many rarities from the Chapman Brothers including Proof Stellas, Bechtler gold pieces, colonials, 1776 Proof Pattern Pewter Continental Dollar, ancients - including a Philip II stater VF, 1795 UNC Eagle, 1795 UNC Silver Dollar, 1799 Cent VG, and European pieces. He also collected many rare Confederate notes and other collectible items.


Fig. Among the early correspondence from Brown to the Chapman Brothers is this item postmarked with an R. P. O. = Chattanooga  (Tenn.) + Atlanta (Georgia) Railroads, September 21, 1878. There are several important pieces of correspondence from Brown in the Lupia Numismatic Library. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive.

Fig. 
Brown to the Chapman Brothers is this item postmarked with an R. P. O. = Chattanooga  (Tenn.) + Atlanta (Georgia) Railroads, July, 7, 1883. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive.

From 1879-1881, he was a Corresponding Member of the ANS.

He also served as the president of the Young Men’s Library Association, later known as the Carnegie Library in Atlanta.

In 1885, his book : Anti-Prohibition was published by the Atlanta Constitution.

In 1899, he was promoted to the rank of Grand Commander of the Knights Templar of Georgia, Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Council and Vice-President of the High Priesthood of the state.

Since all his children predeceased him, in 1907, he appointed his brother Joseph MacKey Brown (1851-1932), of Marietta, Georgia, who served as Governor of the State of Georgia, as his executor, empowering him to sell his "library, autographs, coins, jewels, watches, miniatures, fans, porcelains, potteries, Indian relics, arms, paintings, engravings, ivories, glass, clocks, swords, bric-a-brac, &c., &c." to pay any outstanding debts due on his estate.

In July 1907 he was robbed of $12,000 in stick pins  and $180 in cash by a woman named Rose Edwards prior to his attending a Knights Templar Convention in Saratoga, New York. He met this woman at a park on Broadway who invited him to her apartment at 152 West 37th Street to sell him additional stick pins, a favorite collectible of Brown. He had brought with him 25 stick pins to exhibit at the Knight Templar Convention. Rose Edwards and her husband were arrested and the jewels recovered and returned to Brown.

In March 1906, his family had a falling out against Julius concerning their father's last will in which he and Joseph were appointed executors. The family claimed he was dissipated and mismanaged the estate to their financial loss. The estate was valued at about $500,000.00. Due to this scandal in the news Julius left remarks in his own will regarding the hatred his family had for him. It seems that he and his brother Joseph, the Governor, two wealthy and powerful attorneys, got along well together.

Shortly after he revised his will he suffered a severe accident from a fall from a bicycle breaking his spinal column and was laid up in Martinsville Mineral Springs Hotel a.k.a. the Martinsville Sanitarium, Martinsville, Morgan County, Indiana.

In June 1910, he was released from the  Sanitarium and sent home to the corner of Washington and Rawson Streets, 137 Washington Street, Atlanta, Georgia.

In July 1910, he returned to Martinsville Sanitarium. After a brief stay he was sent back home.

Fig. Home of Julius Brown 
corner of Washington and Rawson Streets, 137 Washington Street, Atlanta, Georgia.

He died on September 4, 1910, at his home in Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia. His funeral was held at the Second Baptist Church which was built by his father. The service was attended by his immediate family, brother Masons, Knight Templars, Confederate Army Veterans, Georgia Military Academy Cadets, distinguished members of the Atlanta Bar Association, and the illustrious citizens of Atlanta. He is buried in Oakland Cemetery, Fulton County, Georgia. Brown also served as president of the Mystic Owls.

He was a well-known raconteur and entertainer throughout the country.

He bequeathed $100,000 to his old Alma Mater Georgia Tech. He left two thirds of his estate to Georgia Tech, and they created their first endowed chair in 1910 naming it after Brown. 

His coin collection was sold posthumously nearly nine months after his demise by order of his executor, his brother who was the Governor, Joseph MacKey Brown, through Samuel Hudson Chapman.

Samuel Hudson Chapman sale #8, the Collection of the Late Julius L. Brown, May 30-31, 1911 (Adams A-). The 
Collection comprised 1242 lots. The catalogue was published with 7 plates in large format. A list of highlights of the sale together with prices realized were published in The Numismatist, June (1911) : 216

Lot 343 was a rare gold 8 escudos from the Lima, Peru Mint 1741, that was plugged and countermarked being regulated in 1780 by Joseph Edwards, Jr. (1737-1783), a goldsmith at Boston to $15. Photo courtesy E-Sylum, Volume 2, No. 20, May 16, 2018.

Shortly following the Chapman sale another auction was held in Boston by Charles F. Libbie, on June 7-8, 1911, selling his library [Part 1] and medal collection [90 pages 1168 lots] (McKay 6999). A second Libbie sale followed on January 10-11, 1912, selling Mary B. Hathaway autograph collection Part III, together with the autograph collection of Julius L. Brown [98 pages, 1476 lots] (McKay 7062). Among his autographs are important correspondence regarding the Mexican war.

The Brown family papers are known as MS 785 in the University of Georgia archives.

Bibliography :

Samuel Gibbs French, The Two Wars : An Autobiography of General Samuel Gibbs French (Nashville : Confederate Veteran, 1901) : 366-367
Frank T. Ryan, "Julius L. Brown," in Pioneer Citizens' History of Atlanta 1833 - 1902, (Atlanta : Byrd Printing Co., 1902) : 258.
Atlanta Constitution, Wednesday, September 7, 1910, page 6, obit
The Numismatist, June (1911) : 216
George L. McKay, American Book Auction Catalogues (NYPL 1937) : 6999, 7062
Universities and Their Sons: history, influence and ..., Volume 5 : 134 (Photo)
University of Georgia Centennial Alumni Catalog

 The Collector : A Monthly Magazine For Autograph and Historical Collectors (1970) : 14

Lorraine S. Durst, United States Numismatic Auction Catalogs
John Weston Adams, United States Numismatic Literature, Volume 1, 92
Martin Gengerke, American Numismatic Auctions


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