DAVENPORT, HENRY

Copyright 2011-2018 John N. Lupia, III 


Henry Davenport (1811-1898), was born on November 18, 1811, at Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, son of Elijah Davenport (1773-1844), a prominent merchant, and Susan Ward Davenport (1781-1851). He was a direct descendant of Thomas Davenport of Dorchester who lived there in 1640. The Isaac Davenport House, Green Street, Dorchester is a historical site.

Davenport was one of the best-known mercantile men and mill owners in New England. 

At the outbreak of the War of 1812, the Davenport family removed to Hallowell, Maine. Beginning in 1817 after his family returned to Boston he received his education at Hawkins Street School, Adams School, and Fort Hill School. In 1821, he attended the Boston Latin School. He graduated High School in 1827 receiving the Franklin Medal. In 1833, he worked for Dinsmore & Kyle, Commission Merchants, Baltimore, Maryland. In 1839, he worked at York Manufacturing Company, Boston, Massachusetts. In 1854, he became connected with the Pacific Mills, wool and cotton goods manufacturer, as an agent, and remained with them till his retirement from business on January 1, 1891. 

He most probably began collecting coins and tokens no later than the 1830's. He is also  most probably the same person described by Lyman H. Low as Captain Davenport as Lindesmith suggested in 1967, who, in 1837, acquired the 1785 Copper Confederatio (PCGS AU53 BN). That coin was subsequently acquired by J. N. T. Levick in 1864.

On June 14, 1843, he married Caroline Howe (1823-1911). They had three children : Annie Ward Davenport [Cleveland] (1850-1922), George Howe Davenport (1852-1932), and Francis Howe Davenport (1851-).

He was an officer in the Pacific Mills company from 1854-1891.

He was a buyer at the Henry Bogert sale at Bangs, Merwin & Co., New York, held on February 28, 1859.

On February 11, 1860, Dr. Winslow Lewis, Jeremiah Colburn, Judge John Phelps Putnam, and William Sumner Appleton incorporated the Boston Numismatic Society.  In 1865, Davenport served as Treasurer, and later on Curator, and was also elected Vice-President.  He was known to have owned one of the finest coin collections in New England.

In 1862, he was appointed by President Abraham Lincoln, as a member of the Committee of Examination of Coinage at the U. S. Mint, Philadelphia.

He was elected a member of the Genealogical Society of Boston in 1850. He was also a Life Member of the Horticultural Society, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Archaeological Society, Roxbury Common Council, Primary School Committee of Boston, and Clerk of the Old South Society at Boston

Davenport and J. N. T. Levick are known for having token restrikes made by the Scovil Manufacturing Company, of Waterbury, Connecticut, and Hard Times tokens engraved by Edward Hulseman. 


Fig. Edward Cogan to Henry Davenport postmarked Clarke #103a, May 23, 1863, Philadelphia. Lower : image of the cover inverted shows the portrait of Jeff Davis transformed into an Ass. Weiss C-P-J 66a (page 432), Walcott 933, Nutmeg Auction #27, Jon E. Bischel 1776, 1777, 1778, 1783. Designed by Edward Rogers and rights purchased by Samuel Curtis Upham and sold by himself and Ed Cogan. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library.

In 1871, at a monthly meeting of the Boston Numismatic Society he exhibited his 1787 Massachusetts Cent.

He died suddenly of heart disease at the home of his son-in-law, Dr. Clement Cleveland on January 24, 1898, at New York. He is buried at Forest Hill Cemetery and Crematory, Jamaica Plain, Suffolk County, Massachusetts.

 He leaves a widow, two sons and one daughter. His elder son is professor of gynecology at the Harvard Medical School. Funeral services and interment will take place in Boston.

Bibliography :

Boston City Directory (1865) : 556
American Journal of Numismatics, Vol. 5, No. 4, April (1871) : 88-90
American Journal of Numismatics, April (1884) : 102
American Journal of NumismaticsJanuary (1898) : 89 Obit
Boston Globe, Tuesday, January 25, 1898, page 2, Obit
George B. Davenport, "Henry Davenport, " in New England Geneaological Society Register, Supplementary Number (1900) : xlvi-lxvii
Robert J. Lindesmith, "Edward Hulseman," TAMS No. 152, June-July (1967)
Dave Bowers, American Numismatics Before the Civil War 1760-1860. (Wolfeboro : Bowers & Merena Galleries, 1998)
Pete Smith, “American Numismatic Pioneers : An Index to Sources,” Asylum Vol. XXII, No. 3, Consecutive Issue No. 87, Summer (2004) : 280



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