STERNBERG, HENRY AUGUST

Copyright 2000-2019 John N. Lupia, III

Henry A. Sternberg photo from the August 21-27, 1925 ANA Convention Group Photo, The Numismatist, October (1925) : 518

Henry August Sternberg (1875-1955), was born on September 27, 1875, in Illinois of German immigrant parents from Mecklenburg, Charles and Fredericka Schroeder Sternberg.


He was a  resident of Dundee, Kane County, Illinois. Sternberg had a general store carrying a wide variety of merchandise from clothing, shoes, boots, hats, to hardware items like window shades, and linoleum. He retired in 1923 from his firm : H. A. Sternberg & Co., 123 West Main Street, Dundee, Illinois. 


Henry, his wife and two children were all involved in coin collecting and in ANA as well as local coin club events. Henry is known for having one of the best early U.S. gold coin collections as well as early American copper cents with famous red uncirculated 1793 specimens.


In May 26, 1897, he married Lora Bumstead, daughter of James H. Bumstead and Annie Masters Bumstead. They had a son Earle (1898-1991).


On August 11, 1902, he married Alice Wilcox Hill (1876-1964), at Dundee, Kane, Illinois. They had a daughter Ellen Belle (1913-1988).


In the 1910 U. S. Census he is listed as a retail dry goods merchant living at 25 Oregon Avenue, Dundee, Kane, Illinois. Sternberg began collecting prize change over the counter and studied coins received in his store. Over time he would assemble several fine collections that have attained fame with many specimens today some of the rarest and finest known.


When a passenger elevator was installed in his store in February 1914 notice ran in The McHenry Plaindealer, Thursday, February 26, 1914, page 1.


Sternberg correspondence sending payment of 81 cents to Henry Chapman, Jr, postmarked on his business postal stationery, March 22, 1917, Dundee, Illinois. There are many pieces of correspondence from Sternberg in the Lupia Numismatic Library. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive.


He began buying coins from Henry Chapman in March, 1917.


He applied for membership in the ANA in January 1918. He became ANA Member No. 1960.


The 1920 U. S. Census lists him as the owner of a department store and his son Erle working for him living at 232 Third Street, Dundee, Kane, Illinois.


In 1920 he and his wife attended the ANA Convention in Chicago.


His wife also joined the Chicago Coin Club with him.


On September 29, 1921, The Herald, page 6, published the notice that he auctioned off his merchandise stock through C. H. Hall & Company, Dundee, Illinois.


In January 1925 he and his wife and daughter Ellen Belle announced the forming of the Dundee Numismatic Club, with three charter members. Erle joined later.


Sternberg to Henry Chapman, Jr. postmarked November 9, 1925. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive.

Henry Sternberg was a member of the Board of Education not long after his retirement and stayed on for 13 years.


The 1930 U.S. Census lists him as retired living at 143 4th Street, West Dundee, Kane, Illinois.


In 1930 he bought some of the French collection. 


Sternberg's advertisement in The Daily Chronicle, Wednesday, July 8, 1936, page 8.


The 1940 U.S. Census lists him as retired living at 212 North 4th Street, Dundee, Kane, Illinois.


He consigned coins to the J. C. Morganthau Sale #305 held April 7-8, 1933. The sale included coins from the Beckwith and French collections. And Sternberg had some of the rarest and best known early Cents. His reputation preceded him : "Sternberg bought 9 1793's, the 1797's and 1798's, 1 1799, 10 1800's, 7 1801's, as well as some of the dates of 1821 to 1829." 


Morganthau's Preface to the sale read :


THE STERNBERG COLLECTION 


We offer in this catalogue some of the finest and rarest coins it 
was ever any cataloguer’s privilege to describe. They form the 
residue of the wonderful collection formerly owned by Mr. H. A. 
Sternberg of Dundee, 111., who has been gradually disposing of 
his coins for several years. Singularly, many of his finest and 
rarest coins remain until last and are offered in this catalogue. 
We disposed of part of his collection of Cents in our sale of 
April 26, 1932, which accounts for the missing dates in this 
present offering. 

An opportunity is here offered Cent Collectors to secure 
some of the finest and most famous Cents in existence, Cents . 
which have been in the great Collections of the past. This pedi- 
gree of past ownership, if it doesn’t mean anything else, cer- 
tainly does mean that the coins were the finest obtainable to a 
long line of earnest collectors who were willing to spend lavishly 
of their time and money to secure the best. 


On August 11, 1952, Henry and Alice celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary.


He died at his home on November 4, 1955. Above : He is buried in East Dundee Cemetery.


His numismatic library and the remainder of his coins were sold posthumously at auction by Bolender on March 2, 1956 including as is often cited 133 large cents, 40 of which were 1794's. 


The catalogue for his library :


NUMISMATIC BOOKS & LITERATURE 

Collectors of U.S. Large Copper Cents will find here the best 
books on that series of American numismatics. These books are 
from the library of the late H. A. Sternberg, who was one of our 
greatest collectors of this series, for almost 50 years. 

633. Crosby, S.S. The United States Coinage of 1793 Cents and 
Half-cents. Boston 1897. 36 pp. plus 3 pages of plates. Orig- 
inal, with additional article by Geo. H. Clapp on the subject. 
Brown cloth. Fine. Rare. $10. 

634. Hays, W.W. Varieties of U.S. Cents of 1794. New York 1893. 
Edited by Ed Frossard. Original with plates. Red cloth. 
Fine & rare book. $15. 

635. Chapman, S. H., The United States Cents of the Year 1794. 
Phila. 1926. Large 9 X12 inches, blue cloth, with 4 pages 
of plates. Very good. $10. 

636. Clapp, George H. The U.S. Cents of the Years 1795, 1796, 
1797, and 1800. Howard R. Newcomb assisted in this work. 
Splendid treatise with fine plates. Blue cloth bound. Very 
fine. $20. 

637. Gilbert & Elder. The U.S. Cents of 1796, published in 1909. 
With plates. Also U.S. Cents 1804 to 1814, by Geo. H. Clapp, 
pub. 1941 in Coin collector series booklet, illust. Fine. Sold 
as one. $6. 

638. Clapp, George H. The United States Cents of the Years 
1798 and 1799. Published in 1931. Excellent work with 
plates of the best. Leather bound. V. fine. $15. 

639. Newcomb, Howard R... The U.S. Cents of the Years 1801, 
1802, 1803. Detroit 1925. With finest plates. Large size, 
brown cloth. V. fine. $12.50. 

640. Doughty, F. W. The Cents of the United States, 1793 to 1814. 
Reprint from original pub. in 1890. Cloth. V. fine. $5. 

641. Sheldon, William H. Early American Cents 1793-1814. Pub- 

lished in New York 1949. Excellent work, 339 pp. plus plates 
V. fine. $7. F 

642. Howard R. Newcomb, UNITED STATES COPPER CENTS 
1816-1857. 284 large pages 9x12 in. plus 11 pp. of fine plates. 
Also catalogue of the sale of Newcomb’s great collection of 
large cents, from 1816-1857. Sold as one. V. fine. $15. 

643. Beckwith, Dr. Henry W. Priced auction sale catalogue, with 
plates, sold by S. H. Chapman 1923. The quality of the large 
cents in this sale was of the very finest. $15. 

644. The Dr. Geo. P. French Collection. 1930 catalogue by B. M. 
Mehl. Descriptions of over 800 large cents in the great 


34 


French coll’n. Flexible leather cover. V. fine. $10. 

645. Famous Collections of Large Cents. Catalogues of several 
great collections including Major Richard Lambert (1910) 
with plates & prices; Fred B. King (1927) priced; Dr. J. M. 
Henderson (1921) priced; T. James Clarke (1929) priced; 
Dupont sale priced with plates (1949); Wm. Schleicher (1919) 
priced; Jascha Heifetz (1938) priced with plates; Homer K. 
Downing (1952) priced with plates; Allison W. Jackman 
(1918) partly hand-priced, and several others. Sold as one 
lot. $25. 

646. Lot of 17 auction sales catalogues from 1917 to 1941, mostly 
priced, some with plates. Includes some great or famous 
collections, incl. the great Jenks sale of 1921 partly priced 
with names of some buyers. One lot. $20. 

647. Adams & Woodin. UNITED STATES PATTERN, TRIAL, 
and EXPERIMENTAL PIECES. Original of this fine illus- 
trated book, the authority on pattern coins. 195 pp. Blue 
cloth, pub. in New York in 1913. V. good, some prices pen- 
ned in. $7.50. 

648. Gilbert, E. U.S. Half-Cents. Accepted authority. Not bound 
and no plates, but all half-cents can be properly attributed. 
Also a priced plate catalogue of famous Hillyer Ryder 
coll’n. of half-cents. Sold as one. $5. 

649. Andrews on U.S. Cents 1816-1857, paper cover reprint. New 
York Store Cards by Edgar H. Adams 1913. Coins & Tokens 
of Canada by Raymond 1937. Dunham's Easy Finding List. 
Early N.Y. Merchants’ Tokens by Raymond 1936. Annual 
Report of Director of Mint for year 1917. Only the last 
bound, others paper covers. One lot. $10. 

650. Haseltine, John W. U.S. Early Silver quarters, half-dollars 
and dollars. 1927 reprint. Good. $7.50. 

651. Browning, A. W. The EARLY QUARTER DOLLARS OF 
THE UNITED STATES FROM 1796 to 1838. Pub. in New 
York in 1925. With 8 pages of plates. The authority on 
quarters. Red cloth. Fine. $15. 

652. U.S. Early Silver Dollars, by M. H. Bolender 1950. Large 
size 9x12 inches, with plates to show 156 illustrations. Blue 
cloth, about as new. The standard authority on the subject. 
Autographed by the author. $9. 

653. A Table of English Silver Coins, by Martin Folkes. A very 
old large book printed in London in 1745. About 9x12 in. 
boards. Covers English coins from the Norman conquest to 
1745. Interesting thing. Covers poor, contents fine. $5. 


Bibliography :


The Numismatist, January (1918) : 27

The Numismatist, February (1918) : 67

The Numismatist, January (1956) : 24 obit

Robert Vail, "The Dr. French Large Cent Dispersal," Penny-WiseMarch 1992
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