SCOTT, JOHN WALTER

Fig. 1. Philatelic West, Vol. 75, No. 3 (May, 1919)  Cover, Photo. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, J. W. Scott file.

Copyright © 2011-2017 John N. Lupia III

John Walter Scott (1845-1919), He is given the appellation “Father of American Philately,” he was also a prominent coin dealer.

Scott was born in London, England on November 2, 1845. He began to collect stamps in 1860. He immigrated to America in 1863. In America he owned three companies selling stamps and coins; the second one was renamed Scott Stamp & Coin Company Limited by the new owners in late December 1885. Consequently a discussion of the Scott Stamp & Coin Company Limited is not included in this biographical sketch since it is a separate entity apart from J. W. Scott. This is emphasized since it is a common error to conflate the two together. Hopefully this differentiation and distinction given here will contribute to clarifying the matter. This article will be republished in expanded form in a book on J. W. Scott and The Scott Stamp & Coin Company Limited, which has been in the planning stage for several years. There are, of course, numerous pieces of mail in The Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, Chapman Family Correspondence Archive sent to S. H. & H. Chapman and separately to Henry Chapman, Jr., from both parties that will be used to help illustrate the book.

J. W. Scott Company, Limited

He moved to New York in 1863 and immediately opened the firm of J. W. Scott Company, Limited, selling coins and stamps, the first of three coin and stamp businesses he would establish in his career. In 1864 he closed his stamp, coin and curio business and moved to California attempting gold mining. 

 J. W. Scott Company, Limited, his second company by the same name opened in New York City in 1866 which kept an address in London, Philadelphia,  and New York City. His return to New York in 1866 brought him to reorganize a new firm of J. W. Scott Company, Limited at 34 Liberty Street, also called Scott & Company until December 1885.

34 Liberty Street, New York, (1866 to September or later in 1868).

814 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (June 1876). He probably had an office there for the International Exhibition and had business envelopes printed with the Main Exhibition Building printed on the back.

In 1868, he married an English woman born of Irish parents, Minnie P., and they had five children : Walter S. (1869-1948), Daisy (1877-), Emily (1880-), Florence (1881-) Dorothy (1883-). His son Walter S. Scott formed one of the Scott philatelic companies and served as an auctioneer for Walter S. Scott & Company and for the Scott Stamp & Coin Company.


Fig. 2. The Fall 1869 Edition of the J. W. Scott & Co. Catalogue of American & Foreign Copper CoinCourtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, J. W. Scott file. Write john@numismaticmall.com

75 & 77 Nassau Street, New York, (not before October 1868-1877). He published the 3rd edition of the Postage Stamp Album in 1872.

146 Fulton Street, New York, (1877-1880)

Wells Fargo correspondence to John Walter Scott & Company, postmarked Leutzinger Type 11-9, Oakland, California,  April 14, 1877 on rare postal Stationery. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. Write john@numismaticmall.com

721 Broadway, New York, (1881-1886). In 1881 he published The International Postage Stamp Album, Sixth Edition, 1881.

From June 1867 to August 1868, Scott issued fifteen monthly one-page price lists. Only four of these fifteen issues are known in any collection and no complete set is known anywhere. Of these four only August (3 copies) and September (4 copies) 1867, and February (9 copies) and April (11 copies) 1868 are known. In September 1868, he issued his first catalog, which, logically, he entitled in the Preface ”To Our Customers” as the sixteenth greatly enlarged edition: Descriptive Catalogue of American and Foreign Postage Stamps, Issued from 1840 to Date, Splendidly Illustrated with Colored Engravings And Containing the Current Value of Each Variety. This was the first "Scott Catalogue", although Scott counted his first fifteen one-page lists and called the September 1868 issue as his "Sixteenth Edition", when his address was at 75 & 77 Nassau Street, New York. In March of 1868, he began publishing the American Journal of Philately (AJP), and helped found the New York Philatelic Society, Tiffany No. 14. He continued publishing the AJP until December 1878. He resumed this publication in 1888. Scott's coin and stamp catalogs became the most important ones in the country. In December 1868 Ebenezer Locke Mason, Jr. made arrangements with Scott for cuts of stamps to illustrate Mason’s Coin & Stamp Collectors’ Magazine for 1869.  In December 1869 Mason refers to Scott & Company as printers who printed a large order of cards and catalogs for him. On May 28, 1870, in New York City, Scott organized the first stamp auction ever held. Two years later he opened a branch in London and organized his fifth auction there. The sale, held March 18, 1872, was the first stamp auction held in Europe.

Fig. 3. Scott Postage Stamp Album at the 40th Exhibition of the American Institute in 1871. 

In 1875 Scott hired Edouard Frossard to edit The Coin Collectors’ Journal, published as a monthly in blue paper wrappers. This periodical was published from December 1875 to December 1888 with the final three years under new ownership. However, Frossard only edited Volume 1 of the first year from December 1875 until December 1876. The bulk of the remaining Volumes 2-12 were edited by David Proskey, except for the final five issues of Volume 12. Lyman Haynes Low merged with J. W. Scott & Coin, in August 1885 four months prior to the December 1885 sale. 

Between 1876 but before December of 1877 he removed his shop to 146 Fulton Street, New York, with the exception of Philadelphia during the International Exhibition. 

Fig. 4. The Fall 1879 Edition of the Scott & Company, Standard Coin Catalogue : Copper.  Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. Write john@numismaticmall.com

He developed a new design called “Form 9” on his business collateral, beginning on November 12, 1881, printing 5,000 envelopes. He printed a series of Stamp Trade Cards each depicting a miniaturized young girl holding a disproportionately actual size stamp. 

Fig. 5. Stamp Trade Card of Belgium depicting a miniaturized young girl in folkloric costume holding a disproportionately actual size and real postage stamp. Note the card is encased in a sealed protective plastic sleeve. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, J. W. Scott file. Write john@numismaticmall.com

Scott & Company, 146 Fulton St., NY, Dealers in Foreign Stamps and Coins was printed on the blank back. No. 1 Stamp of  Switzerland; No. 2 Stamp of  Denmark; No. 3 Stamp of  Netherlands; No. 4 Stamp of  Belgium; No. 5 Stamp of  Greece; No. 6 Stamp of  Portugal; No. 7 Stamp of  Austria; No. 8 Stamp of  Roumania; No. 9 Stamp of  Russia, and so on.

Fig. 6. Scott & Company, 721 Broadway, New York. Note the sign atop the building reads Postage Stamps and Coins. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, J. W. Scott file. Write john@numismaticmall.com

He moved again on May 1, 1882 to 721 Broadway, New York. His business address after 1884 was 36-40 John Street, New York. An illustration of the interior of his Fulton Street was published in The American Journal of Philately and Coin Advertiser, Vol. XII, January (1879).

Fig. 7. Scott & Company Coin Auction Catalogue October 23-24, 1877. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. Write john@numismaticmall.com

In 1877 he moved to the store-front ground floor at 146 Fulton Street, New York, a five-story building, calling the company business Scott & Company, Coin & Stamp Emporium, and began publishing coin auction sales catalogues. 

Fig. 8. Scott & Company Coin Auction Catalogue, December 5-7, 1877. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, J. W. Scott file. Write john@numismaticmall.com

The actual number of coin auction catalogs issued under J. W. Scott from October 23-24, 1877 until December 10-12, 1883 is uncertain. Various authors have attempted to assess this area but the results show evidence that they have mixed up the J. W. Scott & Co., and the Scott Stamp and Coin Co., Ltd., as though they were all one property of John W. Scott.

In July 1879 The Coin Collectors’ Journal, published an article on the Confederate half-dollar of 1861. Scott purchased one of the four known specimens including the die pair from Ebenezer Locke Mason, Jr., who bought it from Ed Cogan in the coin auction sale of Michael Moore collection sold at Bangs on May 2nd. 

Fig. 8. Scott & Company white metal token. Photo in The Numismatist, September (2012) : 52

In June 1881 Ebenezer Locke Mason, Jr., mentioned that the Confederate half-dollar of 1861 as possibly resided in Pittsburg, evidently rumor had it that someone having bought it from Scott. However, Scott put it to auction March 8, 1882 at New York selling it to a Mr. South for $870. Scott re-struck several hundred silver pieces of the coin using the original dies selling them.

Fig. 9. In 1881 he printed collector cards of coins of the world. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, J. W. Scott file. Write john@numismaticmall.com

In 1882, for his 42nd sale, he sold a photographic plate of some of the most valuable stamps in the sale. It was the first time a stamp auction catalog contained photographic illustrations; coins were much earlier with Cogan on June 23-24, 1869; and art auctions, even earlier at Christies, London, on March 12, 1860.

On December 10, 1885, in order to pursue other investments, he sold the business to the Calman brothers and Henry Collin, which they renamed Scott Stamp & Coin Company. Scott retained a small interest in the company stock and continued to work as editor of the catalogs and The American Journal of Philately until 1889, when he sold off his remaining interest in order to start a new business.

In the 1880’s he was a member of the Brooklyn Philatelic Club. In The American Journal of Philately, Vol. 1, No. 3 (1888) : 88, his address is given as 240 Jefferson Avenue, Brooklyn, Long Island, New York. At the May 4th, 1888 meeting of the American Numismatic and Archaeological Society, Scott read his paper entitled : “The Paper Money of the Revolution,” The American Journal of Philately, Vol. 1, No. 5 June (1888) : 154-164, and No. 6, June 15 (1888) : 199-214, illustrated.

J. W. Scott Company, Limited, was his third and final company. Walter S. Scott, the eldest child of J. W. Scott worked for his father in the family business and is listed in records as a clerk. 721 Broadway is the first address continuing from Scott & Company.


Note the change of company name hand-stamped diagonally from Scott & Company to The Scott Stamp & Coin Co. (beneath) SUCCESSORS, by the new owners, postdated May 6, 1886. Lupia Numismatic Library. For sale. A key piece for historical criteria for any collection. Write john@numismaticmall.com

163 Fulton Street, New York, 1889-1917

Scott Stamp & Coin Company Limited, his original company which he sold in December 1885 sued him after 1888 for reopening using his own name claiming breach of contract stipulating one of the terms of sale. However, the suit was frivolous and the court dismissed the case.

In 1889, after nearly five years of financial struggling Scott reorganized the new J. W. Scott Company, Limited and incorporated the company and established his corporate logo. His new company published List of Prices at Which We Sell U. S. & Fractional Currency, Colonial, and Continental Bills, Coins, Stamps, Albums, etc.

Fig. 10. Scott promoted coins and stamps for young collectors publishing his Junior Weekly LetterCourtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, J. W. Scott file. Write john@numismaticmall.com
            He published a 16-page circular in 1890, with the cover title : J. W. Scott Company, Ltd., 163 Fulton Street, New York, New York. 

Fig. 11. A Manual of Valuable Coins published 1890. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, J. W. Scott file. Write john@numismaticmall.com


Fig. 12. Front & Back of J. W. Scott Company 1890-1891 Circular pamphlet. The back advertises the A Manual of Valuable Coins published 1890. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, J. W. Scott file. Write john@numismaticmall.com

This same year he began to publish The Metropolitan Philatelist, which ran until 1915. 

Fig. 13. Front cover of The Metropolitan Philatelist. The Chapman Brothers and other notable coin dealers advertised selling stamps and coins in this magazine. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, J. W. Scott file. Write john@numismaticmall.com

On September 25, 1895, he initiated J.W. Scott & Co., Ltd. Weekly News Letter, a single-sheet folio with the positional statement : "a private and confidential communication to the 100 leading amateurs of America," which ran until May 1, 1897. He served as one of the judges for the public numismatic exhibits at the Collector’s Club on Saturday, January 25th, 1902.

In 1895 Augustus Goodyear Heaton published “A Tour Among the Coin Dealers,” in The Numismatist which read : "In the middle of downtown business life on John Street will be found the J. W. Scott Company. It occupies a spacious lower floor with two show windows on the street, and its manager, Mr. Scott, and a number of clerks are busy behind the counters and at desks over a large stamp trade. Coins, though subordinate, received considerable attention, and very choice pieces of all kinds are frequently to be found. Numismatic publications are also on hand.”

Fig. 14. John W. Scott Company business envelope design of March 1896 based on the original 1889 logo of incorporation. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, J. W. Scott file. Write john@numismaticmall.com

Fig. 15. John W. Scott Company, A Complete Price List of All Adhesive United States Stamps, Postage & Revenue, 1899. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, J. W. Scott file. Write john@numismaticmall.com

Fig. 16. John W. Scott Company, full page ad in the June issue of The Numismatist, 1906. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library.

            In 1908 Scott ran a series of full page ads in The Numismatist from August to November.
            In 1910 he published his Cents Silver and Gold Coin Catalogue of the World, comprising 180 large pages fully illustrated. 
            In 1913 he published his Cents Copper Coin Catalogue of the World; including Roman Imperial coins comprising 200 pages fully illustrated. 

Fig. 17. John W. Scott Company Limited An Abridged List, 1914. Note address 36 John Street. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, J. W. Scott file. Write john@numismaticmall.com

Fig. 18. An original (not a Numismatic Book Shop reproduction) of John W. Scott Company Limited, Standard Catalogues, No. 1, 1916. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, J. W. Scott file. Write john@numismaticmall.com

In 1917 he sold his business to J. E. Handshaw. About two years later, on January 4, 1919, Scott died at his home in New York at age seventy-four. His son Walter L. Scott supplied the biographical information for his obituary. His wife and five children survived him. A donor, in 1878, to the ANS library.

            In 1935-1936, R. Green of the Numismatic Book Shop, 1544 Arthur Avenue, Chicago, Illinois sold reprints of the J. W. Scott 1913 Copper, Nickel and Brass Coins of the World Catalogue, and the 1916 Gold and Silver Coins of the World Catalogue. Bibliophiles beware of purchasing reproductions sold as originals.

He was inducted into the American Philatelic Society (APS) Hall of Fame in 1941.


Bibliography :

Proceedings of the American Numismatic and Archaeological Society, of New York At the Annual Meeting, March 18, 1879: page 13

Philatelic West, Vol. 75, No. 3 (May, 1919)  Cover, Photo

Work :

Charles Henry Coster, The United States Locals and Their History (J. W. Scott, 1877)

Catalogue of the collection of postage stamps exhibited at the Eden Musée : by the members of the Brooklyn Philatelic Club, National Philatelical Society, Staten Island Philatelic Society : with descriptive notes by J.W. Scott. (New York : The Committee, 1889)   

The Numismatist, Vol. 4, No. 1, January, (1892) : 18 (ad); No. 2, February (1892) : 28; No. 3, March (1892) : 46; No. 4, April (1892) : 64; No. 5, May (1892) : 86; Vol. 8 (1895) : Table of Contents 1895, first ad page, column two; Vol. XV, No. No. 3, March (1902) : 84, 87; June (1906) : 227;  August, September, October/November, (1908), all full page ads; April (1914) : 31 ; February (1919) : 77 (obit); February (1992) : 231; 

Heaton, A. G., “A Tour Among the Coin Dealers,” The Numismatist, Vol. 8, No. 1, January (1895) : 8

“Obituary,” The Numismatist, Vol. 32, No. 2, February (1919) : 77

Mason, III, No. 1, January (1869) : 11; III, No. 2, February (1869) : 21c-d; No. 3, March (1869) : 30d, 34a; No. 4, April (1869) : 44a; “Scott’s American Postage Stamp Album,” (J. Walter Scott), III, No. 11, November (1869) : 128d-129a; IV, No. 4,  April (1870) : 64; IV, No. 5, May (1870) : 79; IV, No. 6, June (1870) : 93; Scott, James W., [D-375], editor, New York Philatelic Society. II, No. 6, September (1868) : 60a; III, No. 8, August (1869) : 93d; V, No. 11, November (1871) : 180; Scott, John Walter, trading as Scott & Co., The Coin Collectors’ Journal (1875-1888), B-I, No. 2, July (1880) : 6d; B-I, No. 3, October (1880) : 12b; H-I, No. 1, June (1879) : 3a; H-I, No. 1, June (1879) : 5a, 7c, 8a (Advertisements); H-I, No. 2, September (1879) : 17c; H-I, No. 2, September (1879) : 16a; H-I, No. 2, September (1879) : 19b; H-II, No. 1, June (1880) :2a; H-II, No. 2, September (1880) :10c; Sale of the Smith Cabinet,” (Mason), H-II, No. 3, December (1880) : 18c-19a; H-III, No. 1, June (1881) : 39a; H-III, No. 4, March (1882) : 60d; C-IV, No. 1, June (1882) : 12; C-IV, No. 1, June (1882) : 13.

Dr. Jonathan Brace Chittenden,  "John Walter Scott," Collectors Club Philatelist, Vol. II, October (1923) : 126-141

Dr. Jonathan Brace Chittenden, "Scott in Philatelic Organizations," Collectors Club Philatelist, Vol. III, April (1924) : 65-73

Dr. Jonathan Brace Chittenden,  "Scott in Philatelic Literature," Collectors Club Philatelist, Vol. III, July (1924) : 119-124

Dr. Jonathan Brace Chittenden,  "Scott and the Exhibitions," Collectors Club Philatelist, Vol. III, October (1924) : 160-164

Pete Smith, “American Numismatic Pioneers : An Index to Sources,” Asylum Vol. XXII, No. 3, Consecutive Issue No. 87, Summer (2004) : 305;

Emmanuel Joseph Attinelli. A Bibliography of American Numismatic Auction Catalogues 1828-1875;

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

Stanley M. Bierman, M. D., "J. W. Scott Sales 1870-1919," Philatelic Literature Review, Vol. 35, No. 4 (1986) : 113-136

Bourne, Remy, Fixed Price Lists & Premium Paid For Lists of United States Coin Dealers 1822-1900 (Minneapolis, 1988);

Gnecchi, Ercole and Francesco, eds., Guida Numismatica 4th edition. (Milano : U. Hoepli, 1903. Edition) : 557, No. 5775

Rulau, Russell, Standard Catalog of United States Tokens 1700-190-0 (Iola, 1994);

Pete Smith, American Numismatic Biographies, (Rock River, 1992);

John W. Adams, United States Numismatic Literature, Vol. 1, 31, 58-63, 68, 179-182; 127

Numismatic Scrapbook, Vol. II, No. 1, February (1936) : 10 full-page ad for 1913 reprint

“Numismatic Journalism,” The Coin Journal, Vol. III, No. 1, January, February and March (1882) : 11

Charles Davis, American Numismatic Literature, (1992) : 159, no. 905

 

 

 

 

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