CLARKE, CALVIN FRANK

Copyright 2000 - 2019  John N. Lupia, III

C. F. Clarke & Company was established about the end of 1906 or the beginning of 1907 by Calvin F. Clarke and either his finance or wife Bernice. The Clarke's developed perhaps the largest mail order coin dealerships in the country.  His son Wilfred continued the company for at least eight more years until around 1960.

Calvin Frank Clarke (1872-1952), was born on October 31, 1872, at Le Roy, Genesee County, New York, the eldest of three children born to Harrison Clarke (1841-1925), a native of Connecticut, and Lucinda Mahala Clarke (1845-1914), a native of New York.


Calvin F. Clarke graduated elementary school at Le Roy, New York, and from there worked on a farm.


He is listed in both the 1900 U.S. Census and 1905 New York Census as a farmer.



Around 1887, he began a sideline from his farming work as a philatelic dealer selling stamps, photo post cards, and comic post cards. He mainly dealt in stamps exclusively from 1887 to 1906/7. During that period he compiled  The Philatelic Stamp Value Book, circa 1889-1890, 16-pages


Later, this book was reissued with revisions and copyrighted by W. E. Skinner in 1899. 



Noticeable increases in premiums in the coin market caused Clarke to increase his focus on the buying and selling of coins, which seems to have been influenced by the aggressive advertising of B. Max Mehl and undoubtedly by the loving guidance of his future father-in-law Wilfred F. Brand (1862-1939), publisher of the Le Roy News. Among Clarke's coin clients was numismatic notable John A. Beck "The Salt King" of Allegheny City, Pennsylvania. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For sale.


In the Buffalo Review, Wednesday, April 10, 1901, he is listed as having purchased real estate for $570.00 from John Kimber.

In 1904 he was a member of the Le Roy Republican Club.

On Wednesday, April 17, 1907, he married Bernice Jeanette Brand (1881-1981), daughter of Wilfred F. Brand, at her parents home on Myrtle Street. They had a daughter Marian Louise Clarke (1908-1986), and son Wilfred Harrison Clarke (1911-1975), who became a numismatist. His son continued his father's coin business after his father's demise and a little over a decade later sold his coin collection of 1,729 lots with the French's, March 22, 1963.




Clarke's first known numismatic publication circa 1906/7 was the then stylish art nouveau designed The Eureka Money ManualCourtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For sale. Two copies available. 



In May, 1908, he fell into a gas main ditch while as a volunteer fireman of the Oataka Hose Company he was putting out a fire in Le Roy. He sued the city for $3,000, however the claim was settled four years later in 1912 for only $125. Le Roy Gazette, Thursday, May 7, 1908, page 10



His father-in-law, Wilfred Brand announces Clarke won the 2nd prize in the Le Roy Gazette$10,000 sweepstakes, namely a wool suit from J. J. Murphy & Son, Co.


$5.75 PAID for rare date 1853 quarters. We pay a cash premium on hundreds of old coins..
Keep all money coined before 1880, and send 1o cents at once for our new illustrated coin
value book, size 4x7. It may mean your fortune. C. F. B. Clarke & Co., coin dealers, Le Roy, N. Y.
Beginning in August 1909, his newspaper coin advertisements were published regularly in area newspapers. Note C. F. Clarke & Co., originally incorporated both his initials and his wife Bernice as C. F. B. Clarke & Co., coin dealers.  Right after Valentine's Day 1910 the B. was dropped, which is most probably just a coincidence and does not necessitate reading into it any marital strife or Bernice's no longer being part of the company. Also, the caveat to not spend but save all old coins before 1880 was changed in October 1910 to read "coined before 1884" instead of 1880, and in 1913 it was changed to "before 1895". Democrat and Republican Sunday, August 15, 1909, page 4



Clarke's new format for his Reliable Premium Coin Catalogue and Price List made its debut April 12, 1909, and cost 10 cents. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For sale. Four available.

The 1909/10 edition Reliable Premium Coin Catalogue and Price ListNote the price of the Coin Book is 25 cents. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For sale.


The Reliable Coin Book, No. 8, 1910. Note the price is 25 cents. 
Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For sale. 


Clarke in the news buying a rare 1879 Stella. Le Roy GazetteOctober 25, 1911.



The 1910/11 edition Reliable Premium Coin Catalogue and Price List. Note the price increase for the Coin Book from 25 cents to 35 cents. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For sale.


On August 26, 1912, he was a charter member of the Rochester Numismatic Association (RNA)

He applied for membership in the ANA in September 1912. In October 1912, he became ANA Member No. 1625.



The 1912 - 1939 edition Reliable Premium Coin Catalogue and Price ListCourtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For sale.


C. F. Clarke & Co., advertisement "Don't Turn Your Back on a Good Thing", published in the Le Roy Gazette,1912. Prices raised for buying nearly 18% in just 3 years.


The Reliable Coin Book, No. 10, 1914. Note the price is 25 cents. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For sale. 

He advertised in the first issues of Hobby Magazine in 1918 as C. F. Clark & Co., Coin Dealers, Room 2, Le Roy, New York. 


There are several letters of correspondence sent to Henry Chapman, Jr., in the Lupia Numismatic Library. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For sale. 




Clarke's business envelope imitating the early B. Max Mehl envelopes showing the similarity in presentation and commercialism of both prominent dealers. This one postmarked April 28, 1922. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For sale.


He was one of the first great advertisers and kept the limelight in the news as a promoter similar to the style of B. Max Mehl. Above : "LeRoy Man Receives Shipment of One Dollar Gold Pieces" when Clarke received 570 gold dollars in the mail of the so-called Civil War Hoard. Ithaca Journal, Wednesday, January 16, 1924, page 11. The story ran in all the local papers.

A later design used by Clarke, this one postmarked January 5, 1933. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For sale.



A later design used by Clarke, this one postmarked October 31, 1936. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For sale.


Clarke's Reliable Coin Book (unnumbered) 1938 and the large printed mailing envelope. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For sale.

Clarke had preprinted mailing labels pasted onto large sturdy envelopes for mailing the Coin Book when the other envelopes ran out. 
Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For sale.


Clarke's advertisement The Numismatist October (1939) : 837



The 1940-1950 revised edition Reliable Premium Coin Catalogue and Price List. Note the increase in price for the Premium Coin Catalogue and Price List from 10 cents to 20 cents, and the Coin Book from 35 cents to 50 cents. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For sale.


Same design as 1936, postmarked February 8, 1941. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For Sale.



Clarke's alternate print design postmarked June 13, 1942. Back flap sealed with advertisement for Hobby News published by F. E. Kim, Flushing, New York. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For Sale.

Clarke's alternate return mail envelope print design postmarked January 6, 1947. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For Sale.

Clarke's alternate return mail envelope print design postmarked January 24, 1950. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For Sale.



Clarke's 1951 circular. There are also the following nine circulars in the Lupia Numismatic Library : (1) Popular Album Pages; (2) Advertisement selling Whitman's classic Red Book : A Guide Book of United States Coins, 4th Edition; (3) Ancient Roman Coins; (4) Coin Envelopes; (5) Premium Catalog of Modern Foreign Coins; (6) The Clarke All Steel Coin Box; and (7-9) three additional circulars advertising various United States Coins.

He died at home November 24, 1952. John Pittman sent flowers on behalf of the RNA. George Bauer attended the funeral at the Clarke home 20 Union Street.


He is buried in Machpelah Cemetery, Le Roy, Genesee County, New York.


Later design late 1940's into the 1950's with a Pitney Bowes Meter Mail, U. S. Postage Paid. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For sale.


Clarke's son Wilfred Harrison Clarke continued the business. Above : Clarke's Reliable Coin Book (unnumbered) 1953 edition. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For sale.


Bibliography :


The Philatelic West, September (1924) : (full page ad back of book)

The Numismatist, September (1912) : 277, 335

Illustrated World, Vol. XXIX, No. 1, March (1918) : 154, ad

Hobbies Magazine, Vol. 1, No. 2 (1918) : 22

ANA Membership List (1927) : 56

Philatelic West, Vol. 75, No. 2, January-February (1919) : 73 ad

Le Roy Gazette, Thursday, May 7, 1908, page 10 lawsuit

Democrat and Chronicle, Tuesday, November 25, 1952, page 11 obit

Wayne Homren, "John A. Beck, A Collector," The Numismatist, November (1992) : 1549-1556

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