PHILLIPS, HENRY, JR.

Copyright 2011-2018 John N. Lupia III


Henry Phillips, Jr. (1838-1895), born at Philadelphia on September 6, 1838, son of Jonas Altamont Phillips (1806-1862), a lawyer, and Frances Cohen Phillips (1808-1890), both natives of South Carolina. Henry Phillips, Jr., is so-called Junior since his father Jonas named his son after his brother Henry M. Phillips. So, he took on Junior in his appellation to distinguish himself from his uncle.

He came from a long line of very affluent Jewish intellectuals and cultivated men who worked as lawyers and who lived in South Carolina removing in the 1830's to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

He was educated at a Quaker School kept by Hannah and Mary Gibbons. He then studied classics at the Academy of Henry D. Gregory. In 1856, he graduated the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Law following in his grandfather's footsteps, Zeligman Phillips.

He was a polyglot fluent in German, Italian, Spanish, Hungarian, and French.

On June 13, 1859, he was admitted to the Bar.

In 1868, he was appointed United States Commissioner.

In 1868, Corresponding Secretary, Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Philadelphia. Also, a corresponding member of the Boston Numismatic Society. In numismatics he is largely known as an author of books on paper money. However, Phillips was a prolific writer on literature, history and culture as well.

On February 2, 1877, he became a member of the American Philosophical Society through the influence of his uncle Henry M. Phillips who had been a member since 1871.

On March 18, 1879, he was elected a member of the ANS.

In 1880, he was Curator of the American Philosophical Society.

In January 1881, he resigned from the ANS.

He was the Treasurer of the American Folk-Lore Society. He published "Medicine and Astrology", "The Magic of the Middle Ages," "Old-Time Superstitions," "Basilisks and Cockatrices," 

In 1884, he was Secretary of the American Philosophical Society.

In 1885, he was Librarian of the American Philosophical Society. He compiled for the Society : "List of the Surviving Members of the Society"; "Subject Register of Papers Published in the Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society."

He provided thousands of literary illustrations for the New English Historical Dictionary.

He also wrote as a philologist "Notes on Zed" also full of literary illustrations.

He was a friend of Ludwik Lejzer Zamenhof (1859-1917), who created Esperanto, and assisted him in developing a universal language. He translated Zamenhof 's "Attempts Toward A New International Language".

On October 21, 1887, he served on the Committee of the American Philosophical Society that investigated the value of Volapuk as a potential replacement for Esperanto.

In 1888, his paternal aunt Emily Phillips donated $5,000 in memory of her deceased brother Henry M. Phillips to the American Philosophical Society to establish a prize fund in his honor.  

On November 2, 1888, he donated to the Smithsonian a complete series of silver and copper coinages of the Congo State.

He served as Vice-Consul of Belgium at Philadelphia.

He died of complications of gouty arthritis and arteriosclerosis, resulting in uremia on June 6, 1895. He is buried at Mount Sinai Cemetery. 


He was a member of numerous societies :

Membre du Congres des Americanistes, du Congres International d'Anthropologie et Archeologie prehistoriques

Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Membre de la Societe'  d'Ethnographie de Paris

Membre et medalliste della Accademia fisio-medico-statistica di Milano 

Associe etranger de la Societe' Royale de Numismatique de Belgique;

Corresponding Member of the Royal Historical Society of London

Corresponding Member of the Royal Academy de la Historia of Madrid

Corresponding Member  of the Royal Academy of Lisbon

Corresponding Member  of the Cercle Archeologique of Mons (Belgium),

Corresponding Member  of the Societe" Imperiale d'Arche"ologie Russe (St. Petersburg)

 Fellow of the London Numismatic Society

Corresponding Member of the Boston, Rhode Island, Munich and Vienna Numismatic Societies

Corresponding Member  of the Rhode Island, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, Minnesota and Wisconsin Historical Societies

Corresponding Member of the New England Historic-Genealogical Society

Corresponding Member of the St. Louis Academy of Sciences

Corresponding Member of the Oneida Historical Society

Corresponding Member of the Wyoming Historical and Geological Society

Corresponding Member the Batavian Academy of Arts and Sciences,

Corresponding Member of the Java, Academie d'Archeologie de Belgique, Anvers

Honorary Member of the Cambridge (England) Antiquarian Society,

Corresponding Member of the Historical and Literary Society of Quebec

Corresponding Member  of the Royal Academy of Palermo

Corresponding Member  of the Institut Canadien Francois d'Ottawa

Corresponding Member of the Socio Honorario de la Sociedad Mexicana Geographica y Estadistica, Mexico

Member of the American Historical Association

Membre et medalliste della Societii Italica didascalica di Roma; De'le'gue' regional et Vice-President du Comite" National des Etats-Unis de l'alliance Scientifique Universelle

Corresponding Member of the Buffalo Historical Society

Corresponding Member of the Kisfaludy Gesellschaft , Budapest

Works :

History of Pennsylvania Paper Money (1862)

Catalogue of New Jersey Bills of Credit (1863)

The History of American Colonial Paper Money (1865)

History of American Continental Paper Money (1866)

The pleasures of numismatic science-- "A paper read before the Numismatic and antiquarian society of Philadelphia, at a stated meeting held Oct. 4, 1866." (Philadelphia : H.B. Ashmead, 1867).

History of Maryland Currency (1867)

Considerations Upon the Numismatic Society (1867)

Paper on a Hoard of Coins Exhumed at Paris (1867)

Cowries As A Currency (1867)

The Coins and Coinage of China (1869)

The Origin and Coinage of Money (1875)

The Falsification of Coins (1876)

Notes On Coins (1878)

List of Waterloo Medals (1878)

Worship of the Sun As Shown on Coins (1879)

Notes on a Denarius of Augustus (1880)

Headdresses Exhibited on Coins (1881)

Remarks On a Coin of Sicyon (1882)

"A Prehistoric Epic," Penn Monthly (1882)

Handbook on Coins in Pennsylvania Museum (1883)

The Coinage of the United States of America, by Henry Phillips, Jr. (Philadelphia, H.W. Smith, 1883).


Bibliography :


See Henry S. Morais, "The Jews of Philadelphia,"

Mason's Coin and Stamp Collectors Magazine, I, No. 11, February (1868) : 101a-b; 

Mason's Coin and Stamp Collectors Magazine, V, No. 7, July (1871) : 107

Proceedings of the American Numismatic and Archaeological Society, of New York At the Annual Meeting, March 18, 1879: page 5

Mason's Coin Collectors Herald, I, No. 4, March (1880) : 30a; 

Mason's Coin Collectors HeraldIII, No. 2, September (1881) : 42b;

Mason's Coin Collectors HeraldIII, No. 4, March (1882) : 61c-d;

Albert H. Smyth, "Henry Phillips, Jr.," Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society Memorial Volume 1 (Philadelphia, 1900) : 26-35

Pete Smith, American Numismatic Biographies, (Rock River, 1992) : 185

Q. David Bowers, American Numismatics before the Civil War 1760-1780 (Wolfeboro, 1998);

Pete Smith, “American Numismatic Pioneers : An Index to Sources,” Asylum Vol. XXII, No. 3, Consecutive Issue No. 87, Summer (2004) : 297;




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