GILMOR, Jr., ROBERT

Copyright 2011-2017 John N. Lupia, III


Fig, 1. Robert Gilmor, Jr., (1774-1848) by Thomas Sully (American, 1783-1872); oil on canvas; Image Courtesy of the Gibbes Museum of Art/ Carolina Art Association; 1942.010.0004.

Robert Gilmor, Jr., (1774-1848), was born on September 24, 1774, 
son of Revolutionary War leader, Robert Gilmor, Sr. (1748-1822), and his wife Louisa Airey Gilmor (1745-1827). 

            Robert Gilmor, Jr., was a Baltimore merchant, ship owner, East India importer, and a collector of art, rare books, autographs, coins, stamps, natural antiquities including geological specimens and minerals, antiquities, and various curiosities. Lance Lee Humphries has shown that Gilmor was one of the most significant art collectors and patrons in the United States during his lifetime. 

            When sixteen he began collecting coins in 1790.

            Baltimore City Directory of 1796 lists Robert Gilmor & Company, Merchants, at 35 Water Street. The name of the street had been changed in later years to Lombard Street.

          In 1799, he and his brother William became partners in the family firm of Robert Gilmor & Sons.

            From 1800 - 1801, he went on the Grand Tour visiting Scotland, England, Belgium, France, Holland, Italy, Germany, Austria, and Prussia. Some of the correspondence to his brother William (1775-1829), is now in the Maryland Historical Society, Library.

            On June 1, 1802, he married Elizabeth Suzanna Cooke (1783-1803). She died on May 5, 1803.

            On April 9, 1807, he married Sarah Reeve Ladson (1790-), daughter of Major James Henry Ladson (1753-1812), Lieutenant -Governor of South Carolina, and Judith Smith Ladson of Charleston, South Carolina. Both Robert and Sarah Gilmor had their portraits made by Thomas Sully (1783-1872), which now are in the Gibbes Museum, Charleston, South Carolina.

            In 1821, he had various coins and medals shipped to him at the New York Customs House, and received by his agent, Mr. Bogard. Orosz has astutely speculated Bogard is actually Bogert, which may very well be correct. Also about this date he developed close connections at the United States Mint in Philadelphia. One of his chief aims through these connections was to amass an exhaustive collection of all U. S. Mint type coins. Even with his connections we learn that some twenty years later this was close but still not as yet complete.

            September 1821, Gilmor was responsible for the second medal ever produced by the United States Mint made to celebrate the golden wedding anniversary of his parents who were married on September 25, 1771. It was designed by the English portrait artist, Benjamin Rawlinson Faulkner (1787-1849). There is an estimated 75 known specimens of this medal in various collections. Bangs & Merwin sale probably catalogued by Ed Cogan of the cabinet of J. N. T. Levick sold one on May 31, 1865, lot 393; Ed Cogan sale on January 24-28, 1876, lot 921; Ebenezer Locke Mason, Jr., sale of the Smith Cabinet, October 7, 1880, lot 58; Joseph Burleigh, Jr., auction on March 7, 1881, lot 37; George W. Massamore auction held September 21, 1882, lot 451; S. H. & H. Chapman auction on June 14, 1884, lot 703; W. E. Woodward sold one at auction on October 13-18, 1884, lot 1221, and Edouard Frossard sold one at auction on October 23, 1884, lot 702;  New York Coin & Stamp sale January 24, 1890, lot 1852; Edouard Frossard sold another at auction on September 20, 1890, lot 497; S. H. & H. Chapman sold another in the estate of the late George W. Massamore auction April 12, 1899, lots 426 & 427; Henry Chapman, Jr sale December 22-23, 1915, lot 1370, and so on.

            In 1838, Gilmor advocated Washington, D. C., to become a center of art and culture hoping to have his art collection housed there which included his coins. He was able to inspire and encourage the establishment of the United Stated Mint Cabinet of Coins.

            In 1841, he amassed nearly a complete collection of all United States the various type coins and included a 1787 Brasher doubloon. His original plan was to bequeath or donate his collections to the newly formed National Institute for the Promotion of Science, which he was involved in its founding. Unfortunately, the National Institute for the Promotion of Science did not persist over time and dissolved. 

            Gilmor hoped the Smithsonian Institute would purchase his vast art and antiquities collections that included his U. S., foreign and rare ancient coins. When they declined he was forced to sell privately. According to the implications of Emmanuel Joseph Attinelli's account, Gilmor had sold specimens of his originally much larger collection of ancient coins at private sales at an earlier period prior to his demise in November 1848. Resulting from his persistent appeal to sell his coins privately an advertisement soliciting buyers appeared in the November 1848 issue of The American Journal. This however, might not be accurate since a public notice published in the American and Commercial Daily Advertiser, Wednesday March 7, 1849, informed the readers that the auction catalogue was not ready in time for the auction as scheduled and solicited private bids on any items wanted by collectors. It did note that the rescheduling of the auction of the mineral, coin, book, engraving or autograph collections  would be a matter of only a few days, and not a cancellation. This special notice did not appear in all the newspapers such as the Daily National Intelligencer, which ran the full advertisement minus the notice in the Thursday, March 8, 1849 edition. The advertising campaign for the auction began in February 1849, a few weeks prior to the scheduled sale. That advertisement continued without a special notice warning of any delay until March 5th. Apparently beginning March 6th the notice began to appear for the following two days. Regardless, provenance of such pieces were highly acclaimed and prized. This interesting feature informs of that provenance was already significant to the American connoisseur probably as early as the 1840's.  But, this may be incorrect since the Gilmor coins were probably not sold by Robert Gilmor, Jr., but later on by his heirs.  Currently, it is believed by Joel Orosz that Robert Gilmor, Jr.'s, coin collection was not sold at auction but devised to his nephew Robert Gilmor, III (1808-1875).

            He died of protracted pulmonary disease at 8 A.M. on Thursday, November 30, 1848, at Baltimore, Maryland.

            The first auction was held January 31, 1849, at the Merchant's Exchange, selling real estate building lots, parcels of land into six groups, the sixth being not a lot of land but  pew No. 45 in the First Presbyterian Church.  These auctions realized $30,000, reported in American and Commercial Daily Advertiser, Friday, April 6, 1849.

Fig. 2. Auction notice of Gibson & Company, 7 North Charles Street, Baltimore, Maryland, published in 
the American & Commercial Daily Advertiser, Wednesday, March 7, 1849, page 3.

            The Rober Gilmor, Jr., coin auction sale is the thirteenth coin auction sale known in American history by Attinelli at that time, i.e., December 1875. Gilmor's is the sixth identity recorded of the earliest consignors in American history known by Attinelli. Whereas, in the John N. Lupia, III, list, the revised edition of Attinelli,  Gilmor is the 141st auction known in America and the 41st known identity of a consignor. 

                But a voice of doubt has clouded the issue of whether of not the Gilmor collection of rare ancient and foreign coins, and U. S. coins was ever sold as Attinelli and Lupia assert. First, it is a historical fact that the catalogue was not printed in time but private bids were solicited for the whole or part of ether mineral, coin, book, engraving or autograph collections in the interim. The catalogue and its auction were supposedly rescheduled about March 10-12, 1849. Nevertheless, this private sale still constitutes an auction sale since private sales of this sort were very common as auctions in America since the 18th century. No known record of bids or buyers has as yet surfaced from the original advertisement in either The American Journal or Gibson series of auctions. Joel Orosz assumes none were made and that these collections were withdrawn, eventually being inherited completely intact by his nephew Robert Gilmor, III. The collateral for a loan from the Savings Bank of Baltimore made by the nephew on November 12, 1852 was "the Cabinet of Coins, and also of medals which I received from my uncle." is evidence Joel Orosz uses to support his theory. Orosz's articles are splendidly researched and stand as a must read. However, his conclusions are not always definitive. For example, the wording of the nephew's loan goes contrary to Orosz's theory since the phrase "I received from my uncle" explicitly says that the nephew had received the collection of coins and medals during his uncle's lifetime, not posthumously which would require the use of the word "inherited" or the phrase "had bequeathed to me" or "devised to me", or "had left me". In the last will and testament dated July 20th 1848 the nephew was included to receive a "Cabinet of Medals". You will note reading the nephew's own note to the bank in regards his loan he specifies : "the Cabinet of Coins, and also of medals . . ." We know certainly that of the "Cabinet of Medals" as being willed, but not the first part that says "the Cabinet of Coins".  With this understanding in mind we can tenably imagine a vastly larger collection of coins and medals amassed by Robert Gilmor, Jr., which some he gave as gifts, at least that known to his nephew as he tells us in the aforementioned hypothecation of his coins for a loan, as well as other portions sold privately as Attinelli tells us in Numisgraphics, perhaps relating to the advertisement in The American Journal, and the auction sale as originally intended on March 8th with bidders sending in their bids privately, or else as the Gibson & Co., advertisement says in a few days when the rescheduled auction for the mineral, coin, book, engraving or autograph collections were most probably held. So far no evidence has come forth to suggest any other interpretation than that given here. This above discussion was originally intended to have been published by John N. Lupia, III, list, in his revised edition of Attinelli's Numismagraphics, Part 1, but was deleted in haste in order to publish a quick check list.

            Gibson & Co., also advertised in the American and Commercial Daily Advertiseron April 12, 1849, the sale of an additional 31 acres of land which was auctioned in May.
            
            Various museums hold portions of his correspondence including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Rosenbach Museum and Library, the Maryland Historical Society, Library, the Archives of American Art, the University of Virginia Library, Cornell University Library, New York State Library, and the Lupia Numismatic Library.

        On May 26-28, 1862 William Harvey Strobridge catalogued and sold the William A. Lilliendhal collection that included the 1793 Chain Link Cent known as the Gilmor Cent. This is the pedigree Atinelli referred to of coins circulating with provenance from the Gilmor collection also referred to as Gilmorata.

    NOTE

Anyone wishing to purchase a copy of John N. Lupia, III, American Numismatic Auctions to 1875. (Regina Caeli Press, 2013) Volume 1, at a discount from the original price please write john@numismaticmall.com

Bibliography :

John Smith, A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish and French Painters. (London : Smith & Son, 1831) Lists paintings owned by Robert Gilmor, Jr.

Baltimore Commercial Journal, and Lyford's Price-Current, Saturday, December 2, 1848, page 3. Obit.

American & Commercial Daily Advertiser, March 8, 1849

Emmanuel Joseph Attinelli, Numisgraphics (New York : The Author, 1875) : 8

Anna Wells Rutledge, "Robert Gilmor, Jr. Baltimore Collector,"  Journal of the Walters Art Gallery, Vol. 12 (1949) : 35

Joel Orosz, "Robert Gilmor Jr., and the Cradle Age of American Numismatics," The Numismatist May (1990) : 704-712, 819

Joel Orosz and Lance Humphries, "New Research Illuminates Robert Gilmor, Jr." The Numismatist December (1996) : 1448-1453, 1509

Lance Lee Humphries, Robert Gilmor, Jr. (1774-1848) : Baltimore Collector and American Art Patron (University of Virginia, PhD diss., 1998/2005) 2 Volumes.

Dave Bowers, American Numismatics Before the Civil War 1760-1860 (Wolfeboro : Bowers & Merena, 1998) : 25-27
Joel Orosz, "Gilmor and the 1804 Silver Dollars," The Numismatist, June (2000) : 613-617, 689

John N. Lupia, III, American Numismatic Auctions to 1875. (Regina Caeli Press, 2013) Volume 1 : 115 


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