HARZFELD, SIEGMUND KOHN

Copyright 2011-2018 John N. Lupia, III




Siegmund Kohn Harzfeld (1848-1883), was born on December 30, 1848 at Kassel, Hesse, Germany, son of Bernhard Simon Kohn Harzfeld and Hannchen Kohn Harzfeld.

On March 25, 1874, he married Amelia Bernheimer (1853-1931) at Wiesbaden, Germany. They had five children : Emmanuel Harzfeld (1872-1872), Johanna Harzfeld (1874-1934), Emmanuel Harzfeld (1876-), Benjamin Harris Kohn Harzfeld (1880-1921), and Henry Harzfeld (1881-). 

In 1875 he published poems in Germany, Liebe und Leben (Frankfurt am Main : Verlag von R. Diesterweg, 1875).

He came to America in 1876. He published sixteen coin auction catalogues in his 39 month coin career at Philadelphia. He published his Harzfeld's Numismatic Circular beginning in April 1877. 

He printed his advertisements on the blank side of uniface obsolete bank notes.

In October 1877, he published his first coin catalogue of a foreign collection of the late Georg Friedrich Grotefend (1775-1853) : Catalogue of coins and medals, comprising Greek and Roman coins, etc., from the renowned collection of Dr. Grotefend, Hanover, Germany

He was familiar with U. S. Mint employees and through his interactions led him late 1878 to become a strong critic of U. S. Mint practices. 

He discovered 150 1879 Stella $4 gold pieces still kept in the U. S. Mint, which he acidly asserted were available to concubines but not to collectors. Snowden granted Harzfeld a private interview showing him orders received for the coins, but no retraction seems to have appeared.

In 1879, he published an 8-page pamphlet On the falsification of ancient coins.

He was a member of the Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Philadelphia. He wrote in Numisma, September (1880) “Officials” of the Mint, writing against Mint Superintendent Snowden and former Mint engraver Eckfeldt's Theodore for illegally selling restrikes of the 1804 Dollar.

Harzfeld introduced American numismatists to the truth regarding some European coins and medals. Among these we find the 1862 so-called Janauschek Thaler, which previously was claimed to be bearing the portrait of the actress Franziska Magdalene Romance Janauschek (1829-1904).

He also served as the sole agent for sales of Lea Ahlborn's medal of Joseph J. Mickley, and William H. Key's medal of Hon. Eli Kirk Price, president of the Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Philadelphia. Key also struck a Washington medal for Harzfeld for his series of medals known as "Harzfeld's Series" .

In 1878 he lived at 1713 Park Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

In the Janesville Gazette in January of 1879 he was cited as owning a 1793 Large Cent in uncirculated condition valued at $100.


In 1879, he published his Fixed Price List (FPL) titled "Old Coins and Their Values. Catalogue of American and Foreign, Ancient and Modern Coins, Medals, Etc. and the Prices at Which They May Be Obtained. An Indispensable Guide To Every Coin Collector."


His 1880 U. S. Census listing reports his occupation as a professor of Numismatics.

Harzfeld suffered from frail health and returned to Germany,

The October 1882 issue of the American Journal of Numismatics reports receiving a letter from Harzfeld who was convalescing in Wiesbaden, Hesse, Germany, saying his health is improving.

He died on December 18, 1883 at Wiesbaden, Hesse, Germany.

Coin Auction Sales (16)

[01] October 25-26, 1877, Dr. Grotofend
[02] March 13-15, 1878 erroneous description inventing the name Pennsylvania halfpenny
[03] December 7, 1878 criticisms of the U. S. Mint practices.
[04] March 14, 1879
[05] June 5-6, 1879
[06] September 11-12, 1879
[07] December 10, 1879
[08] December 30, 1879
[09] February 17, 1880 Scarce catalogue
[10] March 9, 1880 Alfred Venderer. Scarce catalogue
[11] April 9, 1880 Ferguson Haines. Plates available of Confederate fractional notes.
[12] June 30, 1880, W. P. Titcomb
[13] September 10, 1880, W. W. Thurston
[14] October 29, 1880
[15] November 26-27, 1880, J. C. Roach, J. C. Randall
[16] January 24-25, 1881, Rogers and Hoffnagel. Also criticisms of the U. S. Mint practices.

Bibliography :

Galveston Daily News, January 12, 1879, page 1
Numisma Vol. 3, No. 1, January (1879)
The Coin Collectors Journal (1880) : 157
Proceedings of the American Numismatic Society, December (1883)
John Weston Adams, United States Numismatic Literature, Vol. 1 : 53, 64-67, 183
David Fanning, "Harzfeld" MCA Advisory, August (2007) : 7-8
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