ELDER, THOMAS LINDSAY

ELDER, THOMAS LINDSAY

Fig. 1. Thomas Lindsay Elder photo circa 1900 when "Elder the roaring lion" first enters the coin arena. Another photo taken at this time favoring the left rather than the right angle shown above was published in The Yearbook (1902) American Society of Curio Collectors, page 8.

Copyright 2011-2017 John N. Lupia, III


Thomas Lindsay Elder (1874-1948), was born at Dayton, Pennsylvania, on November 22, 1874, son of Scottish-American parents, 

McLeod Mason Elder (1849-1924) and Hannah Knox Elder (1851-1921).

McLeod Mason Elder (1849-1924) photograph circa 1878.

        Thomas Elder is among the most prominent and influential American numismatists and coin dealers of the first three decades of the 20th century up to the early 1930's 

when other prominent dealers like B. Max Mehl, Wayte Raymond, Joe and Morty Stack, emerged dominating the market overshadowing him. 

He began collecting tobacco tin tags at age eight in 1882 and coins at thirteen in 1887 when living in New Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. For the uninitiated collecting 

tobacco tin tags was a widespread hobby much like cigar band collecting or tobacco tin collecting in America and in Europe and was a typical feature published in 

The Golden ArgosyThe OologistThe American Magazine of Natural ScienceMineralogist's Monthly; and  Philatelic West and other collecting periodicals during 

the 1880's and 1890's. In his lifetime of collecting his favorite pieces were store cards, tokens, medals and political pieces. We learn about this directly from him writing

 his column "Recollections of An Old Collector," for Hobbies, January (1935) : 76 : "What did I first collect? Why, as a poor boy, I lived in a little railroad town, in 

 New Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  Poor boys couldn't collect much in the way of coins so they turned, in our group, to tobacco tin-tags. There was quite a variety of these, 

as most grown-ups in those days not only smoked but chewed tobacco. In some instances the round stove in the country store, around which sat old and young men

talking shop, was the spittoon, and many a chewer of tobacco decorated the old store stove. Some of these chewers tore off the tin tags, of various designs: spearheads, 

oblongs, circles, and other forms, which were inscribed, and threw them onto the floor.  The storekeeper added a few, which were swept out of doors at night. We boys

used to pick around refuse heaps for these and I well remember there was a sort of standard cash price for them, six or eight for a cent among the boy collectors of eight or nine years each."

He studied at Park Institute and Beaver College. 

On May 20, 1896 he joined the Sons of the American Revolution having been descended from Robert Elder.

From 1899 to 1901 he lived at 343 Princeton Place, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania; (April 1902 The Numismatist) 843 Princeton Place, E.E., Pittsburg, Pennsylvania; 

(Station A, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania).

He joined the ANA at age 25 and his name was published in the June 1899 issue of The Numismatist, on page 153, and he was made ANA Member No. 140. He was 

also a member of the ANS, Chicago Coin Club, New York Numismatic Club (as one of the Founders), and the Pacific Coast Numismatic Society. He was a Fellow of 

the ANS in 1904. For all intents and purposes his career as a numismatist began in late 1899. Yet his full-time career as a coin dealer had to wait another four years 

or so.

His first ad in the September 1899 issue of The Numismatist, pages 207-8, was an announcement for his eight-page fixed priced list of ancient and medieval coins and 

served as a notice for his small display ad forthcoming in the November issue for Greek, Bactrian, Parthian, Egyptian, Roman, Byzantine, and medieval British and 

French coins. A similar but larger size ad appeared in the January 1900 issue on page 33.

Fig. 2. Thomas L. Elder mailing in his bids on the Dr. Edward Maris coin auction sale held three days from the postmark date on November 16, 1900, to the Chapman 
Brothers, postmarked November 13, 1900, 4 P. M., New York, Station S, on the business correspondence of The Baltimore and Ohio Southwestern Railroad Co., Office 
Eastern Passenger Agent, 434 Broadway, New York, New York. Apparently he worked for the railroad as the Passenger Agent at the New York Office, though his ads 
were addressed to Princeton Place, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Chapman Brothers coded Elder as Bush for the auction bids. Courtesy the Lupia Numismatic Library, 
Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive.

Elder seems to have worked in the New York Office of the Passenger Agent for the Baltimore and Ohio Southwestern Railroad Co. in 1900 although he advertised 

a mailing address at Princeton Place, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, most probably his residence and daily commuted back and forth by train.

He was chosen by Allen Jesse Reynold, founder of the American Society of Curio Collectors, founded November 1900, as its first vice-president. I have found no

 evidence to support a date of 1897 for this and all evidence points to November 1900 as it is mentioned in that issue Philatelic West in a notice run in the Curio 

Department in the 3d and 4th columns. Elder is not mentioned in the notice. This organization followed imitating what had been done in 1887 by R. W. Wright 

publishing The Curio, An Illustrated Monthly Magazine (New York), but expanding beyond art, rare books, bric-a-brac, coins, medals, and tokens, to additionally

 include the myriad of other curiosities and collectibles.

Beginning in January 1901 he added Colonial coins, gems and curios to his inventory stock advertising them in his ads in The Numismatist, the soon in The 

Philatelic West,  and in the The Philatelic Chronicle. He advertised his coins for sale in the American Monthly, July 1901, page 4, and in December, in The 

Philatelic West. The December 1901 ad in The Numismatist changed adding paper money and broken bank bills, listing Colonials pieces with prices. 

He got his feet wet writing in The Numismatist in the February 1901 issue describing five medals in his collection and inquiring further information about the 

Palmetto "No submission" token. B. P. Wright replied in the April issue correcting him about the attribution, and also about the Pitt medal. 

He ran a whole page ad in the April 1901 issue of Philatelic West, 4th leaf recto from the back. His name was misspelled in that ad as UHOMAS L. ELDER. 

He claimed to be the "Headquarters for American Colonial Copper Coins illustrated with an ancient Roman coin. Also, he wrote a series "Notes on the Coinage 

of the Greeks,” in The Philatelic West. By late fall through December 1901 his second series titled “Money in Circulation in America in Colonial Times,” was also 

published in Philatelic West. 

He issued an aluminum store card as a Pittsburg coin dealer in 1902. The obverse bore his maternal ancestry of the Knox family motto : MOVEO ET PROFICIO 

"I advance and progress", but the die cutter misspelled PROFICIO and spelled PROFICO instead, a nasty blunder for an amateur ancient numismatist specializing 

in Roman coinage. 

Fig. 3.  Earliest known business stationery of Thomas Elder to the Chapman Brothers, Flag Cancel postmarked February 9, 1902, 8:30 P. M., Pittsburgh, 

Pennsylvania, Station A. He advertises selling Old Coins, Paper Money, Jewelry, Agate Goods, Etc.,  with his address at 344 Princeton Place, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 

This correspondence contained an enclosed check in the amount of $13.40 for coins. Courtesy the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman 

Family Correspondence Archive.

Fig. 4.  The second earliest known business stationery of Thomas Elder to the Chapman Brothers, Flag Cancel postmarked February 9, 1902, 8:30 P. M., 

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Station A. Elder the perfectionist added an ancient coin AE 15 of Abila, Decapolois, Syria, FAUSTINA II with Greek legend : 

 ΦAYCTEINA CEBACTH, draped bust right / CELEUK ABILAC KC, bunch of grapes on stem. Spijkerman 6; Rosenberger 5A or 5B. Like the Latin motto on

 his 1902 aluminum store card the reverse legend on this ancient coin drawing is incorrect. Courtesy the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The 

Chapman Family Correspondence Archive.

In April 1902 he advertised trading a brand new typewriter, new paper money, gemstones and Indian relics for all kinds of coins. That's pretty much what we see 

him advertising on his business stationery. I suppose he was willing to part with his typewriter in order to convert it into inventory stock for his trade reasoning that 

he could make enough money to replace it and make a profit in the deal. However, it is possible he bought a new typewriter since it seems the keys of Figs. 2 & 3 

above match and differ from those of Fig. 4, signifying he was dumping his old typewriter whose keys not only seem a bit more worn but are misaligned, especially 

on capital letter "M" and small "e". 

In June of 1902 he lived at 238 Sheridan Avenue, Pittsburg (stamped on his aluminum store card, and on his printed business envelopes) and this new address was 

published in the July issue ofThe Numismatist, and also appears on his new printed business envelopes that refer to his corporate name as Thomas L. Elder, 

Importer of Ancient, Medieval and Modern Coins, Inc.  Also, another envelope, Thomas L. Elder, Dealer in Ancient, Mediaeval and Modern Coins, Paper Money, 

Gem Stones, Curios, Etc. 238 Sheridan Ave., Pittsburg, Pa. Price List Free.

Apparently the editors of The Numismatist were behind in publishing and were not kept abreast of current changes of address or business affiliations since the 

following notice was published in the July 1902 issue of The Numismatist : “Thomas L. Elder, an A.N.A. member of Pittsburg, Pa., who has for years past, been a 

member of the American Numismatic Association, has been tendered the position of private secretary to Hon. Alfred S. Moore, of Beaver, who has recently been 

appointed by President Roosevelt as Judge of the United States District Court No. 2, Alaska, with headquarters at Nome. Mr. Elder will receive a salary of $2,500 

per year if he accepts, but we understand he will decline the position. Mr. Elder is but 27 years of age, is an enthusiastic collector and is now with the Pittsburg 

Provision & Packing Company, of Pittsburg, Pa.”  Elder worked as a court stenographer and also as a telegraphist. As a telegraphist he was assigned to the home 

and deathbed of President William McKinley (1843-1901) who eventually died on September 14, 1901 from an assassins' (Leon Czolgosz) bullet fired September 

6th during the Pan American Exposition at Buffalo, New York.

In the September issue 1902 of Philatelic West he published a full page advertisement and an article, "The Popularity of the Large U. S. Cent".

In 1903 he was a member of the British Numismatic Society. He published 293 coin auction catalogue sales from March 1903 to May 1940. The first known coin 

auction sale was a mail bid when he lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. To appreciate the Elder sales one must consult the quintessential and indispensable John 

W. Adams, United States Numismatic Literature, Vol. 2, pages 25-49.

In May 1904 he moved to 32 East 23rd Street, New York City, NY, and later on at 8-10 W. 37th Street, New York. He spent thirty-five years in New York before 

retiring to South Carolina.

He was an active member of the ANS since January 18, 1904. By 1906 he served on the ANS committee to improve the artistic design of American coinage which 

met with President Theodore Roosevelt.    


Fig. Thomas L. Elder correspondence with the Chapman Brothers with his hand-stamped in blue ink corner card postmarked January 2, 1905, 8:30 PM, machine cancel. 

Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive.


On January 26, 1906 he sent two postal cards on the same day to the Chapman Brothers ordering souvenir dollars at the St. Louis Fair. The first one requested two 

gold dollars and the second was the increase to five. This avoidance of Zerbe by Elder suggests there was already friction between them irrespective of Zerbe's 

polite comments about him published in 1907 that quote him saying "My bite is not as severe as my bark." The quote of Elder reminds us of a similar turn of phrase 

used by another prominent hot headed and feuding coin dealer about thirty-seven years earlier in Philadelphia named Edward David Cogan.  For the scans of the

 postcard see the biography of Farran Zerbe.    

Fig. Thomas L. Elder correspondence with the Chapman Brothers with his new graphic illustrated design business envelope with a Greek Calabrian silver diobol of Taras 
(Tarentum) bearing Herakles (Hercules) wrestling the Nemean lion, postmarked April 8, 1906, 3 PM, duplex cancel. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive.


In 1906 he began publishing in March, The Elder MonthlyDevoted to Things Numismatic, Archaeologic, Philatelic, Historic, Antique, &c., a monthly magazine. 

The publication closed in 1907. The Elder Monthly caught the attention of a journalist writing for the Rockford Republic, a newspaper in Illinois. The Saturday, 

February 24, 1906 edition of that newspaper bore the headline, "Are Our Coins Inartistic : Thomas L. Elder, Editor of Numismatic Monthly Says They Are. Did 

You Ever Think of That?" The article reports, "He claimed that the coinage of the United States while good for the regular 100 cents on the dollar, of course, were 

from an artistic sense monstrosities land that the crying need of the country just at this time was to abolish the meaningless female face which with sightless eyes 

and protruding chin mocks us from each dollar and minor coin we chance to luckily retain long enough to examine." This commentary is followed by a quote from

 The Elder Monthly "A current rumor has it that we are to have new designs made for our coins, and that the gold coinage, the least useful, will be the first to be 

redesigned. While the present coinage may be mechanically and commercially perfect, it fails below the English and French types in point of artistic merit. In fact 

it barely excels the work on coins of Kamehameha, king of Hawaii, while it is vastly inferior to the coinage of Menelik, Negus of Abysinnia." The persuasive propaganda

 of Elder was to employ social and  ethnic principles to sting the sentiment of the American public. His taunting the public lay in the fact that not only the English and

 French have coins more beautifully designed and crafted but even those who were considered socially and/or genetically inferior -- undeniably reflecting the bigoted 

views of Frederick Hoffman's, Race Traits and Tendencies of the American Negro (1898). Elder always seemed to show a dark side to his character which seemed to

 grow stronger from 1906 to 1909, like a blister that swelled up and burst. Dave Bowers rightly called his writing "feisty and irreverent" in his seminal article in Rare 

Coin Review (Winter 1988) : 59-62; Pete Smith aptly called him "Opinionated and Outspoken" in The Numismatist (2000) : 399-400;  and innocently John W. 

Adams remarks, "One might accuse Elder of being short-tempered, sharp-tongued or self-righteous but never dull or dishonest." U.S. Numismatic Literature

Vol. 2, page 25.

In the 1906, besides publishing his monthly periodical, fixed price coin lists, and other circulars, flyers and business letterheads, invoices, envelopes and post cards 

he ran The Elder Numismatic Press publishing numismatic literature including : William Cowper Prime, Money of the Bible(1906); Ed Frossard, W. W. Hays, and 

Thomas L Elder, Varieties of United States Cents of the Year 1794 (1910); Frank C. Higgins, The Chinese Numismatic RiddleThe Elder Rare Coin Book (1913); 

Ebenezer Gilbert, The United States Half Cents. From the First Year of Issue, in 1793, to the Year When Discontinued, 1857. All Dates and Varieties Described and 

Illustrated (1916); Frederick S. Dunn; et al, Collecting and Hobbies, with Special Reference to Coin, Medal and Paper Money Collecting (1917). Thomas Lindsay

 Elder, Valuable hints for the soldier. Of especial use to the soldier and to the selected man who has been called, or expects to be called, to military service (1918);

 The New Rare Coin Book (1934).

He moved his business now calling it The Elder Coin and Curio Company, to 9 East 35th Street, New York. According to his Illustrated Bargain Retail List, published

 by The Elder Coin & Curio Corporation, he asserted, though without evidence, that he had established his coin dealership in 1896, when he was twenty-two years old.

 His later publications give the corporate name The Elder Curio Corporation, not Company and the address variably as 21 West 35th Street, or 8 West 37th Street, New

 York City.

"On October 5, 1908, at the popular Cafe Martin, New York City, Elder hosted a banquet in connection with his auction of the James Wilson Collection, one of the most

 important sales of the era." Dave Bowers, Coins and Collectors, 2d ed., page 143.

On November 21, 1908 he married Sophia Faskett Hawley (1882-), a native of Brooklyn, New York, at the Eleventh Street Methodist Episcopal Church, Philadelphia, 

Pennsylvania. They were divorced in 1910. She kept the name Elder until 1930. She worked as a maid.

Thomas L. Elder used his father McLeod Mason Elder as the front man, i.e., proprietor of the Elder Coin and Curio Company, styling himself 

merely as the manager probably to avoid lawsuits and alimony to his former wife. That only lasted until his father's death in 1924.

He was among the "dirty dozen" founders of The New York Numismatic Club on December 11,  1908, at Keen's Old English Chop House located on 36th and 6th 

Avenue. These were all die-hard numismatists and collectors each one a notable figure critical to 20th century American numismatic history.

In 1909, he edited and published Ebenezer Gilbert, United States Cents of 1796. This was a first of three volumes in which Elder assisted the aged Gilbert.

In June 1909 Mrs.  Sophia Foskett Elder applied for membership in the ANA. They were divorced soon afterwards fueled by the tensions of politics, competition, and

 failure especially during the 1909 ANA presidential election. This set Elder off on a rampage. From here on in Tom's mind everyone is guilty until proven innocent!

He had an aluminum Piker's Peak Satirical Token minted, DeLorey-70. This strange token references the bitter 1909 ANA election campaign waged between 

numismatic dealers Farran Zerbe and Thomas L. Elder. Elder depicts Zerbe as a braying donkey or jackass and adds desultory legends such as "THE SUMMIT OF 

IMPUDENCE" and "IN ME I TRUST."

The sardonic tone of this token compliments the commencement of his new periodic publication of October 1909, The Numismatic Philistine. This briefly run 

magazine comprised only thirteen issues that were printed in twelve ending in January 1911. It insults many collectors, dealers and his favorite whipping boy 

Farran Zerbe whom he sadistically seems to relish castigating. His final comment about shutting down his magazine were, "the mourners will be few." telling us 

that he was aware that he alienated himself from the fraternal community of numismatists. The title was borrowed from another periodical called The Philistine, 

A Periodical of Protest, published 1895 to 1915 at East Aurora, New York by the Society of Philistines, begun by Harry Persons Tabor (1865-1951), and Elbert 

Hubbard (1856-1915). From 1910 to 1911 he published The Elder Magazine.

In 1909, he issued the Hendrik Hudson So-Called Dollar, HK-372, DeLorey-75, in Silver, 15 mm which was issued by Thomas Elder for the 1909 Hudson-Fulton 

Celebration in New York City, that commemorated the 300th anniversary of the discovery of the Hudson River and the centennial of steamboat navigation. The 

Hibler-Kappen reference (2008) notes that "only 50-100" pieces were struck, and that between 21-75 coins are believed to be extant giving them an R.6 (on their

 modified scale, q.v.). The denomination on the reverse is "1 DAALDER," although the DeLorey-75 issues seem to be nothing more than a reduced version of the

 DeLorey-74, HK-369 so-called dollars, which are the proper size (38 mm) for a daalder coin. Also, in 1909, Elder issued the Robert Fulton Dollar, HK-376 in Silver,

 which was also issued as part of the 1909 Hudson-Fulton celebration in New York City. Elder issued the "Dedicated to Coin Collectors of Canada," DeLorey 84. 

It is believed that less than 50 pieces were struck in silver and the newly released Hibler-Kappen reference suggests that less then 20 are believed extant.

The agitated Elder was a cobra-tongued speaker and writer with plenty of venom to spread throughout the world around him.  Dave Bowers writes, "Additional 

venom was later directed via medal inscriptions at "pacifists" Henry Ford and William Jennings Bryan, who resisted America's entry into World War. And woe to

 any Elder customer who showed up at one of his auction sales who had not paid an earlier bill. From the podium, Elder was apt to say something like, "Here comes

 a deadbeat," as the victim entered the room and all heads turned." Coins and Collectors, 2d ed., page 149. 

In 1910 he edited and published Ebenezer Gilbert, United States Cents of 1794. This was a second of three volumes in which Elder assisted Gilbert.

His 1911 passport application lists his occupation as an antique dealer. He was 36 years old, 6'-3/4" in height, with blue-gray eyes, and had iron-gray hair .

He is credited with using the term "So-Called Dollar" contra Zerbe in print for the first time in his September 27-28, 1912 sale of a 1904 Louisiana Purchase 

Exposition "Theodore Roosevelt Medal" (lot number 308). Recall that he would not write to Zerbe ordering any of these, but rather, wrote to the Chapman Brothers.

From 1914 to 1916 Elder might have been instrumental in influencing the U. S. Mint designers A. A. Weinman and Herman A. MacNeil in their new designs for 

the dime, quarter and half dollars, but this claim may very well be an exaggeration.

In 1916  he edited and published the very aged Ebenezer Gilbert's, United States Half Cents. This was the third of three volumes in which Elder assisted Gilbert.

He co-catalogued 1197 lots of coins for an Anderson auction held February 4, 1916, together with Wayte Raymond.

On October 25, 1916 he was the keynote speaker at the Springfield Coin Club, Springfield, Massachusetts. He often traveled to speak at various coin clubs and

 advocated collecting praising it as a means to cultivate the collector into a valuable asset for their community. Such are the sentiments conveyed in his classic 

article on the subject "Collecting--With Special References to Coins, Medals and Paper Money," The Numismatist, Vol. XXIX, No. 12, December (1916) : 529-42. 

The then, 42 year old veteran collector and dealer cited French poets and other literati to express the art historical aspects of collecting in its character.

Fig. 5. Postal Card issued by Thomas L. Elder for his coin auction sales. This one is dated October 1917 for his 152d coin auction sale held October 17-19, 1917 the collections 
of Ward, Jewett, Toupal. Courtesy the Lupia Numismatic Library, Thomas Elder file.
        His September 12, 1918 Draft Registration Card lists his occupation as publisher and jeweler. That year he published Valuable hints for the soldier. Of especial use to 
the soldier and to the selected man who has been called, or expects to be called, to military service (1918).
        David Stone (2015) has recently pointed out the difficulty in finding one of the 20 printed plated copies of the March 2, 1911 Elder sale of William H. Woodin U. S coins,
 especially the rare gold coin collection. This was first noted by John W. Adams in U. S. Numismatic Literature, Vol. 2.

He advertised "The Elder Coin &  Curio" in The New York Tribune in December 1919.

Fig. 6. Pugnacious Thomas L. Elder photo c. 1920's, during his final disgruntled decade fighting to be on top. 

        Dave Bowers reports, "On Washington's birthday, February 22, 1922, Elder hosted a banquet for numismatic notables at Engel's Chop House, West 35th Street, 
New York City. Speakers included T. L. Comparette, Carl Wurtzbach, Russell Drowne, Albert R. Frey, and Frank C. Higgins, all prominent figures in the hobby." Coins and 
Collectors, 2d ed., page 151. 
Fig. Elder circular for coin auction sale postmarked August 23, 1921. Courtesy Lupia numismatic library, Special Collection, Thomas L. Elder.

Fig. Letterhead of Thomas Lindsay Elder sent to Henry Chapman, Jr., September 20, 1922. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection,
 The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive.
During the 1920's and 30's he had a place at Tryon, North Carolina, and was active at social and cultural events at Charlotte. He was an active member of the 
Charleston Library Society. Attending the 179th Annual Meeting on January 17, 1928, he is reported as a donor of books and pamphlets.
Having two residences he traveled frequently between North Carolina and New York and would travel to other states as a speaker, dealer, appraiser, buyer, 
tourist, and advisor and consultant.
In 1923, he married his second wife Ruth Marguerite Compton (1887-1954) at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She saw him through the height of his success and 
supported him as he sank into oblivion.

The Dr. George Lawrence sale of June 26, 1929 was one that boosted Elders annual total receipts that year, which he claims the gross totaled $125,000. In that sale

 Henry Chapman bid $7,900 on the Massachusetts & California Co. 1849 $5 gold piece, and $7,000 for the Wass Molitor & Co. large head 1855 $20 gold piece. 

Two other rare gold pieces totaled another $7,600. Be that as it may, despite Elder's claims of huge gross receipts he contradicted himself in an article "The Modern

 Cataloguer's Commission," The Numismatist, September (1929), where he admitted to a loss rather than a profit. Nearly two years post auction Elder fought without

 success to recap some of the purported losses he sustained in gaining $40,000 on the Lawrence sale for the estate but nothing but losses for himself. This negativity

 of Elder at this period seems to be the beginning of his undoing, spiraling downward out of control and crashing like the Stock Market on that woeful Black Tuesday 

in October 1929.

In the 1930’s he takes a back seat in numismatics playing the role of the numismatic sage and historian being now one of the oldest seniors surviving in the trade and

 so he became a regular contributor to Hobbies, The  Magazine For Collectors, and by January 1935 it ran as a regular monthly column until May 1948, “Recollections of An Old 

Collector”. However, sparky and snarky Elder also wrote political pieces on Fascism and Communism in the Charlotte Observer, a North Carolina newspaper, in 1929 

and 1935. 

By January 1937 he was desperate to close the Elder Coin & Curio Corporation and ran an ad very anxiously hoping to find someone to buy him out and take over 

the company. But there were no takers and he was forced to close.

Fig. 7. The last Elder Coin & Curio Corporation coin auction catalogue held May 13-15, 1937. The company ceased to exist by summertime 1937. This was sale No. 281 
(No. 282) with eleven more to follow ending with the last Thomas Elder sale on May 25, 1940. Courtesy the Lupia Numismatic Library, Thomas Elder file.

        In February 1937 Elder was caught between a rock and a hard place desperate to sell out his Elder Coin & Curio Corporation to any buyer. There were the Stack's 
brothers Joe and Morty, who began to loom into dominance in New York, and Wayte Raymond was already well established. Neither of these firms needed to buy out 
Elder at all. It was just a matter of time from their perspectives. When Elder closes shop each will absorb their market share. Elder's plan was poor planned and executed 
ending in nothing happening but shutting down Elder Coin & Curio Corporation. 

In 1939 He had minted the Lincoln Gold So-Called Dollar, HK-493, in Gold, 15 mm. containing 1.85 gm of gold according to NGC; but only 1.75 gm according to the 

recent Hibler-Kappen revision. The obverse features a bust of Lincoln facing left, with date 1939 below, and ABRAHAM LINCOLN around the rim. The reverse shows 

A TOKEN in center, ringed by stars and with a bowed wreath design around the rim, which was issued for the 1939 New York World's Fair by coin dealer Thomas L. 

Elder, 100 pieces struck with a matte finish.

Early 1938, he moved to Pleasantville, Westchester County, New York. His first coin auction sale with his New York address was on May 14, 1938. Curiously, it wasn’t 

until the August 1939 issue ofThe Numismatist  on page 648, a change of address was published reporting that he moved from Camden, South Carolina to Pleasantville, 

New York. By August 1940 he moved to Spring-Dale Farm, Willow, Ulster County, New York.

Fig. 8. Thomas Elder writing to Ella B. Wright, Manager of Henry Chapman, Numismatist, Inc., postdated August 26, 1940, Willow, New York, buying $20.99 in coins. 
Courtesy the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive.


Fig. 9. Thomas Elder writing to Ella B. Wright, Manager of Henry Chapman, Numismatist, Inc., postdated February 4, 1948, Greenville, South Carolina, just three months 
before his demise. There are numerous pieces of correspondence from Tom Elder to The Chapmans in the Lupia collection. Courtesy the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special
Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive.

By December 1941 Elder had a second home from that at Willow, New York, at 18 Manly Street, Greenville, South Carolina. His last letter to Helen Chapman and Ella 

B. Wright was on February 4, 1948 sent from the Ottaray Hotel, Greenville, South Carolina. He lived in Room 410. His change of address was published in The 

Numismatist, April (1948) : 287.

Fig. 10. Thomas Elder writing to Ella B. Wright, Manager of Henry Chapman, Numismatist, Inc., postdated August 24, 1943, Chatham, New York, reporting the robbery 
at Wayte Raymond's office of $10,000. Soon afterwards Elder returned home to Greenville, South Carolina. Courtesy the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive.


He died, as John W. Adams has aptly put it, "a sick and cynical old man" on May 11, 1948, at Travelers Rest, South Carolina, about 9 miles north of Greenville. An 

obituary appeared in the June issue 1948 of Hobbies Magazine, on page 131. His obituary did not appear in The Numismatist until July and with a scanty obituary 

notice. He is buried in Kittanning Cemetery, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania. He was survived by his wife Ruth (d.1954). They had no children.

In the August 1948 issue of The Numismatist, on page 565, column 2, The New York Numismatic Club at their meeting June 11, 1948 announced “the death of one of 

the founders of the Club, Thomas L. Elder. The members all stood for one minute of silence in his honor. Mr. Elder was the last surviving charter member.”

The career of Thomas L. Elder may rightly be described as coming in like a roaring lion and having gone out in a very faint whisper, or was it a whimper. Perhaps his 

best epitaph was written by John W. Adams, "He could cause the fur to fly but none could doubt his sincerity and, in the end, few can match the breadth of his 

contributions." U.S. Numismatic Literature, Vol. 2, page 25.

The inventory left by Elder purportedly was taken over by his son-in-law, Paul S. Seitz (1902-1978), a bank bookkeeper, who traded out of Glen Rock, Pennsylvania, 

and in time became well-known as a respectable dealer. Seitz's wife was Ethel K. Seitz (1903-1995). The earliest known marriage of Thomas L. Elder was in 1908, five 

years after the birth of Ethel. Seitz was related to Elder through his mother Lydia May Seitz (1887-1937), and was not his son-in-law.


Coin Auctions Sales : (293)

001. March 5, 1903, 768 lots. Smart, Moody, et al. Mail bid.

002. September 30, 1905, 852 lots. Catalogue of the first public auction sale of coins, medals, and paper money. 

003. November 23-24, 1905, 1250 lots

004. January 26-27, 1906. 1411 lots. Catalogue of the Third Public Auction Sale of a Large, Rare and Widely Varied Collection of Coins, Medals, Paper Money, Encased Postage Stamps, Cut Gems, Old Weapons, Numismatic Books, War Medals, Etc. ... to be sold ... January 26 and 27, 1906 ... (1906)

005. March 23-24, 1906, 1485 lots. Catalogue of the Fourth Coin Sale 

006. May 31-June 1, 1906, 1446 lots. Catalogue of the Fifth Coin Sale 

007. July 3, 1906, 838 lots. Catalogue of the Sixth Coin Sale 

008September 27-28, 1906, 1461 lots. Catalogue of the Seventh Coin Sale, September 1906 (Seventh Coin Sale” The Elder Monthly, Vol. 1, No. 5, August (1906) : 15

009. December 6-7, 1906, 1200 lots. Catalogue of the Eighth Coin Sale

010. February 20, 1907, 900 lots. Selee, Clark, Anders, et al.

011. May 6, 1907, 882 lots. Anders, Dow, Devere, et al.

012. May 23, 1907, 911 lots. George Anders et al.

013. June 19, 1907, 1056 lots. Catalogue of the Twelfth Coin Sale

014. October 14-15, 1907, 1992 lots. CATALOGUE OF THE THIRTEENTH PUBLIC AUCTION SALE OF COINS, WAR MEDALS, JACKSON TOKENS, PAPER MONEY, FOREIGN AND UNITED STATES GOLD, ETC. THE PROPERTIES OF J. N. T. LEVICK, MRS. MINNIE HIRSCH, E. S. SELEE AND OTHERS. TO BE SOLD AT THE ELDER AUCTION ROOMS THIRTY-TWO EAST TWENTY-THIRD STREET, NEW YORK CITY. DANIEL R. KENNEDY AUCTIONEER. ON MONDAY AND TUESDAY EVENINGS, OCT. 14 AND 15, 1907, BEGINNING EACH EVENING AT 7 O'CLOCK.

015. December 19, 1907, 1396 lots. Estate J. Chase, et al.

016. February 26-27, 1908, 1477 lots, Greenbough, Levick, Emery et al.

017. April 4, 1908, 846 lots. Catalogue of the Sixteenth Coin Sale

018. May 6, 1908, 825 lots. Catalogue of the Seventeenth Coin Sale

019. June 15-16, 1908, 1136 lots. Peter Gschwend.

020. September 26, 1908, 809 lots. Catalogue of the Nineteenth Coin Sale.

021. October 5-7, 1908, 1409 lots. James B. Wilson.

022. October 17, 1908, 907 lots. Belknap, Martin, et al.

023.  December 17, 1908, 1027 lots. Catalogue of the Twenty-Second Coin Sale.

024.  January 16, 1909, 616 lots. Rev. F. M. Bristol, et al.

025. February 16, 1909, 850 lots, Linklater, Raridon, et al.

026. February 25, 1909, 523 lots. Linklater, et al.

027. March 12, 1909, 700 lots. Catalogue of the Twenty-Sixth Coin Sale.

028. April 5, 1909, 710 lots, Frank W Doughty, et al.

029. April 9, 1909, 687 lots, Frank W Doughty, et al.

030. April 30, 1909, 466 lots. Frank W Doughty,Part III.

049. March 2, 1911, William H. Woodin

112. May 15, 1915. 919 lots. Catalogue of a large and fine collection of rare coins, medals, tokens, paper money, etc. ... to be sold at the Elder auction rooms ... May 15, 1915 ...(1915)

113. June 5, 1915. 786 lots. Catalog of a very large and fine collection of American military decorations, orders and medals, Indian medals, foreign copper coins, United States gold, silver and copper coins, ancient gold ... To be sold ... June 5th, 1915 ...(1915)

         115. July 1-3, 1915. 2542 lots. C. G. Moritz, C. P. Cherry, et al. Catalogue of large and important collections of rare coins, medals, tokens, paper money, weapons, gems, Indian relics, stamps, etc ... At absolute public sale ... July 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, 1915 ... (1915)

119. October 20, 1915. 1005 lots. Catalogue of an important sale consisting of several consignments of coins, paper money, tokens, medals, etc., including some fine ancient, mediaeval and modern coins, Napoleonic medals, rare Jackson tokens, foreign silver coins, U.S. greenback and fractional currency ... at unrestricted public sale at the Elder auction rooms ... October 20th, 1915 ... (1915)

120. November 6, 1915. 940 lots. Catalogue of a large and varied collection of coins, medals, tokens, paper money, gems, jewelry, old weapons, curios, etc ... to be offered at unrestricted public sale at the Elder auction rooms ... November 6th, 1915 ...(1915)

152. October 17-19, 1917, 1608 lots.  Ward, Jewett, Toupal. (See postal card photo above)

         158. July 23-25, 1918. 2452 lots. Robert Bale, William Poillon (q.v.). Two hundred and twenty-first public auction sale of the Bale-Poillon collections ... rare and antique weapons, curios, paper money, coins, medals, tokens, postage stamps, gems, jewelry, etc. ... July 23rd, 24th and 25th, 1918, (1918)

172. April 30- May 1, 1920. 1508 lots. Davis.  Public auction sale of a very fine private collection of rare coins, medals and paper money ... on Apr. 30th and May 1st, 1920. (1920)

180. June 22-25, 1921. 3018 lots. Lynch, Tilden, Walker, et al. Public auction sale; rare coins, medals, paper money, etc., the Lynch, Walker, Tilden and other collections ... June 22, 23, 24 and 25, 1921 ...(1921)

182. October 7-8, 1921. 1724 lots. D. M. Swayze, A. M. Winkle, et al. Public auction sale. Valuable coins, medals tokens, paper money, books, etc. In two sessions. Daniel R. Kennedy auctioneer. On October 7th and 8th, 1921. (1921)

184. February 3-4, 1922. 3018 lots. F.R. KimballW.F. Booth, Rev. Lighthipe, et al. Public sale of F.R. Kimball (pt.II), W.F. Booth, Rev. Lighthipe and other collections of rare coins, paper money, medals, tokens, etc., on Feb.3rd and 4th, 1922, Daniel R. Kennedy, auctioneer (1922)

192. May 16-19, 1923. 2496 lots. L. J. Bascom, S. T. Lange, J. R. Fowles.  Public auction sale of remarkably fine collections of rare coins, medals, tokens, [etc.] in four sessions of unrestricted public sale at the rooms of the Elder Coin & Curio Corporation, New York City, Daniel R. Kennedy, auctioneer, May 16th-19th, 1923. (1923)

217. June 21-22, 1928. 2496 lots. A. McAleenan, Broadbent, Havemyer, et al. Catalog of public sale : rare coins, medals, tokens, paper money, etc., the properties of Messrs. Arthur McAleenan, Broadbent, Havemyer and others ... at unrestricted public auction ... June 21st and 22nd, 1928 ... Walter C. Gilbert, auctioneer, at the rooms of the Elder Coin & Curio Corporation : catalogue(1928)

223. June 26, 1929. 1544 lots. Dr. George Lawrence  

258. April 5-7, 1934. 2701 lots. Clara DeHaven, E. D. Smith, E. Parmalee. Public Auction Sale ; The Clara DeHaven and Other Collections ; Rare Coins, Medals, Tokens, Stamps, Curios, Autographs ... April 5, 6, and 7, 1934 ...(1934)

261. September 14-15, 1934. 1853 lots. Robert J. Bouvier, et al. Public Auction Sale ; The Bouvier and Other Collections, Rare Coins, Medals, Tokens, Paper Money, Stamps, Autographs, Curios, Gems ... September 14 and 15, 1934 ... at the rooms of the Elder Coin & Curio Corporation ... New York City ... (1934)

290. May 14, 1938, 1389 lots. Edward Rausch.

291. September 7, 1938, 1531 lots. Dr. Clifton Wheeler, R. M. Norton, et al.

292. May 12, 1939, 1546 lots. Norton, Revere, Lett, et al.

293. May 25, 1940, 1700 lots. Walter D. McCaw, G. C. Markley.

Work :

Elder, T. L.,"Notes on the Coinage of the Greeks,” Philatelic West, Vol. XV, No. 2, April (1901) : 90-91

Elder, T. L., “Money in Circulation in America in Colonial Times,” Philatelic West, Vol. XVII, No. 3 , December (1901) : 114-115

Elder, T. L., Remarkable Collection of Greek Tetradrachms. Three Hundred Silver Coins of Alexander the Great. Unearthed During the Spring of 1908, at Demanhur, near Alexandria, Egypt. (New York, no date).

"The Modern Cataloguer's Commission," The Numismatist, September (1929) : 

The New Rare Coin Book; A Comprehensive Work on Numismatics, Coin Premiums, Numismatists, Coin Collecting (1934)

“Description of an Old New York Auction of Coins,” Hobbies : The Magazine for Collectors, December (1934) : 81

“Recollections of An Old Collector,” Hobbies : The Magazine for Collectors, Vol. 41, No. 4, June (1936) : 62-4

“Recollections of An Old Collector,” Hobbies : The Magazine for Collectors, Vol. 43, No. 11, January (1939) : 88-90

“Recollections of An Old Collector,” Hobbies : The Magazine for Collectors, Vol. 43, No. 12, February (1939) : 86

“Recollections of An Old Collector,” Hobbies : The Magazine for Collectors, Vol. 44, No. 7, September (1939) : 86-7

“Recollections of An Old Collector,” Hobbies : The Magazine for Collectors, Vol. 45, No. 6, August (1940) : 91-2

Bibliography:


The Numismatist, Volume XIV No. 2, February (1901) : 55;

The Numismatist, September 1899; Vol. XV, No. 1, January (1902): 32 (advertisement); No. 3, March (1902) : 96 [advertisement]; No. 4 April (1902) : 121, 123 (ad); Vol. XXII, No. 5, May (1909) : 148, 156 (ad); No. 6, June (1902) : 187; No. 7, July (1902) : 205, 209, 220 (ad); No. 8, August (1902) : 254; No. 9, September (1902) : 284; Vol. XVIII, No. 3 March (1905) : 101 ½ page ad rare colonials.

A National Register of the Society, Sons of the American Revolution (New York, 1902) : 900

British Numismatic Journal (1903) :461

Gnecchi, Ercole and Francesco, eds., Guida Numismatica 4th edition. (Milano : U. Hoepli, 1903. Edition) : 562, No. 5861

Proceedings of the American Numismatic and Archeological Society (1904) : 31

Rockford Republic, Saturday, February 24, 1906

            The Numismatist, Vol. XXII, No. 6, June (1909) : 185; No. 8, August (1909) : 249

The New York Times, December 11, 1914, page 20

Springfield Daily News, Saturday, October 21, 1916

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

Philatelic West, Vol. 75, No. 3 (May, 1919)  78, ad

Pittsburgh Press, Tuesday, July 12, 1921, page 16 obit of Mrs. Elder.

ANA Membership List and Directory (1927) : 60, 78

Charlotte ObserverJanuary 17, 1928

Charlotte Observer, Sunday, February 24, 1929

Hobbies : The Magazine for Collectors, December (1934) : inside front cover full-page ad.

Charlotte Observer, Thursday, February 21, 1935

"Recollections of An Old Collector," Hobbies, January (1935) : 76 

E. Smith, "Cards and Tokens of Thomas L. Elder," TAMS (1962) : 51-2, 59-60, 82-83, 123; (1963) : 20-21, 71-76

Thomas DeLorey, "Thomas L. Elder : A Catalogue of His Tokens and Medals," The Numismatist, Vol. 93,  (1980) : 1328-51; 1608-30.

Tom LaMarre,"When Thomas Elder Writes," Rare Coin Review No. 70 (Autumn 1988) : 36-7

Dave Bowers, "When Thomas Elder Writes," Rare Coin Review No. 71 (Winter 1988) : 59-62

John Weston Adams, United States Numismatic Literature, Vol. 2 (Crestline, 1990) : 25-49

Charles Davis,  American Numismatic Literature (Quarterman, 1992) : pages 74-78, Nos. 346-372

Pete Smith, American Numismatic Biographies,  81

Pete Smith, The Opinionated and Outspoken Elder,"  The Numismatist, Vol. 113, No. 4, April (2000) : 399-400

Dave Bowers, "Thomas Elder's Golden Touch," The Numismatist, Vol. 113, No. 3, March (2000) : 299-300

Martin Gengerke, American Numismatic Auctions (2009) : 185-194

"Was Paul S. Seitz Thomas Elder's Son-in-Law?" E-Sylum, Vol. 14, No. 10, March 6 (2011) : Article 17

Thomas D. Harrison, "Thomas Elder's Commission Campaign," The Asylum, Vol. 31, No. 4 October-December (2013) :  154-9

Dave Bowers, Coins and Collectors, 2d Ed. The Golden Anniversary Edition. (Stacks Bowers Galleries, 2014) : 146-154

David Stone, "The Rare Plated Woodin Catalogue : Tom Elder's Epic Gold Sale," The Asylum, Vol. 33, No. 2 April-June, (2015) : 38-50.


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