DANIEL, HERSHEL THOMAS

DANIEL, HERSHEL THOMAS

Copyright © 2011-2017 John N. Lupia III
Hershel Thomas Daniel (1905-1973), was born May 15, 1905, son of James L. Daniel, and Chlora Daniel, at Pittsburg, Johnson County, Arkansas. He married Rachel Stilley on October 3, 1924. They had a son Daniel Barton Daniel (1928-), and a daughter Barbara (1935-). 
        He was an amateur archaeologist who, like the coin dealer, Robert Wood Mercer of Ohio, became prominent among Indian relic dealers but also dealt in coins, medals, paper money, wampum, curios, minerals, fossils, etc., trading out of Dardanelle, Arkansas.  G. E. Pilquist, another Indian relic dealer from Arkansas proceeded him dealing as early as 1907. Daniel was one of the last of the classic curio cabinet dealers who traded in natural and artificial curiosities as well as coins. "American numismatics antiseptically  isolated from curiosities as a specialized field of collecting started to trend during the 1940's, something colonial British North American numismatists would hardly be able to understand or appreciate since the notion was inconceivable to them." [1]
        H. T. Daniel began dealing in the 1920's, though he claimed 1915 when he was only ten years old,  and continued at different cities in Arkansas into the 1960's. He advertised regularly in Hobbies Magazine. He operated a store under various names  and in 1940 after moving from Dardanelle it was called like Mercer's Ohio shop, the Curio Store, located at Hot Springs, Arkansas. 
        Daniels drummed up a lot of business advertising with whole page ads on the inside front cover of Hobbies Magazine in  1939.
        One of his regular customers was Samuel Dellinger, Curator of the University of Arkansas Museum. Another was Judge Harry Lemley of Hope, Arkansas, who amassed an extensive collection of Indian artifacts. 
    Many of the top American coin dealers dealt with Indian relics, especially Henry Chapman magnate of the coin dealing dynasty from 1875-1934. Perhaps one of the main contributing factors after the death of Henry Chapman during the 1940's that removed coins and coin dealing from the classic curiosity cabinet items, especially Indian artifacts was the fact that fakes began to circulate more frequently than the authentic bona fide item. Although fake or counterfeit coins had always been in circulation among coin dealers since the 18th century the majority of coins sold in the market were and are authentic. This was not the case with other artifacts of the curiosity cabinet, especially the notorious fake Indian relics. "Daniel began dealing in “fake” artifacts “when collectors began expecting artifacts more exotic and rare than existed prehistorically” [2]  Being a regular advertiser in Hobbies Magazine he took umbrage with editorials published in that magazine that criticized many of the Indian artifacts circulating among the dealers as fakes. "In a letter to the editor in the December 1935 edition, Daniel wrote that Hobbies' sky-is-falling attitude toward fakes only scared people off from buying authentic artifacts from reputable dealers. "While some publicity is necessary on the subject, it should be handled in such a way as to not reflect on the whole bunch of us, and the hobby in general." Daniel's letter was the height of hypocrisy because Daniel himself was the source of many forgeries. B. W. Stephens of Quincy, Illinois, bought a Spiro copper hairpin from Daniel. Whether he was suspicious or just curious, Quincy had the hairpin tested at the University of Illinois chemical laboratory, where it turned out to be just a piece of number 6 gauge copper wire. Soon other reports that artifacts bought they had bought from Daniel turned out to be fakes, including Trowbridge's drills and pipes. Eventually Braecklein confronted Daniel about the forgeries. The dealer apparently admitted it and agreed to quit selling them, but not before selling the remaining fake drills "to suckers." Nevertheless, when Hobbies found out about it, they refused to run his ads." [3]

    Charles Shewey, a well-known collector of Indian artifacts related his account of Daniel and the other Indian artifact dealers who sold fakes. "They were primarily making stuff out of broken projectile points. H. T. Daniel made all of these nose rings and fish gigs, and turtles and rabbits and different things out of them, always out of broken projectile points, and later on Lear Howe started doing the same thing. Each one of them served five years with Uncle Sam up at Joliet." [4]


Fig. 1. Business envelope of Hershel T. Daniel postmarked with Scott No. 552 (1922-1925) Precancel "Farmington, Arkansas" c. 1925. Courtesy the Lupia Numismatic Library. It is curious that he used a precanceled postage stamp from Farmington in Washington County 120 miles northwest of Dardanelle, along Lake Dardanelle, Yell County.

Fig. 2. 1937 Catalogue, Indian Relics, Fossils, Minerals, Curios, Crystals, Shells, Etc.

Fig. 3. 
In 1941, he published, Catalog and Price List, Indian Relics, Coins, Bills, Gems, Fossils, Minerals, Hobby Material, Etc. 31 (1) pages, illustrated with photos. Reprinted by Hothem House.

His residence in 1944 was Hot Springs, Arkansas, where he was listed in the City Directory as an Antique Dealer. 

He died at the age of 68 years, 4 months, and 11 days, on September 4, 1973 at Lamar, Arkansas.

Notes:
[1] John N. Lupia, American Numismatic Auctions to 1875, Vol. 1 (2013) : 30
[2] Tom King, Looters or Lovers. Studying the Non-archaeological Use of Archaeological Resources (Silver Spring, MD, 2014) : 29
[3] David La Vere, Looting Spiro Mounds : An American King Tut's Tomb (University of Oklahoma Press, 2007) : 166
[4] John C. Whittaker, American Flintmakers: Stone Age Art in the Age of Computers. (University of Texas Press, 2004) unpaginated. See part 3, Daniel, Howe and Others.

Bibliography :
Hobbies, Vol. 49 (1944) : 5
Hot Springs, Arkansas City Directory, 1944
Hobbies, Vol. 61 (1956) : 110
Nature Magazine (1956) : 53
Michael Hoffman (1985) : 8
Mara Leveritt, "Who Owns the Past?", Central States Archaeological Journal, Vols. 33, No. 3 (July, 1986) : 123-138, especially 131
John C. Whittaker, American Flintmakers: Stone Age Art in the Age of Computers(University of Texas Press, 2004) unpaginated.
David La Vere, Looting Spiro Mounds : An American King Tut's Tomb (University of Oklahoma Press, 2007) 
Robert C. Mainfort, Sam DellingerRaiders of the Lost Arkansas (2008) : 88, reprint of H. T. Daniel's advertisement
Tom King, Looters or Lovers. Studying the Non-archaeological Use of Archaeological Resources (Silver Spring, MD, 2014) 

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