STORNAY, IGNATZ OTTO

Copyright © 2011-2017 John N. Lupia III

Ignatz Otto Stornay (1831-1886), Austro-Hungarian traveling art dealer, coin dealer and numismatist. He is sometimes referred to as John O. Stornay. He was a robust figure 5'-4" with dark brown hair and hazel eyes according to his passport application.

            Before coming to America he worked as an art dealer at Paris. He traveled to America as an art agent for Adolphe Braun et Cie, Paris, France, selling and exhibiting photographs, auto-types, and stereoscopic images in America beginning at Pittsburg, Pennsylvania in the summer of 1870. From there Stornay visited many cities throughout the United States selling art prints and photographs. The Detroit Museum of Arts, for example, houses the Balch Collection of Braun's auto-types, as well as the Princeton University, Art History Department, Marquand Art Library, and The Index of Christian Art at Princeton, which were purchased from Stornay on his trips.

Fig.1 Announcement of Stornay's exhibition at Pittsburg. Pittsburg Commercial, Thursday, September 29, 1870, page 4.

            He became a U. S. citizen at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on June 15, 1871. He is listed in the Philadelphia City Directory of 1871 as a salesman living at 1125 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia. 

            Stornay is noted for importing, in addition to art works, coins, from his annual trip to Europe. It is not too surprising to discover that uncirculated or nearly such gem specimens of the early issues from the U. S. Mint were brought by travelers from America to Europe as souvenirs and over time found their way into curiosity shops, coin dealer shops, jewelry stores and exchange bureaus. As Dave Bowers notes in his American Numismatics Before the Civil War 1760-1860 " . . . England became a rich source of Early American coins . . . " According to the Chapman Brothers Stornay purportedly purchased an Extra Fine-45 1793 NC-1, Crosby 2-C, Breen 3 or Breen 1634, Chain Cent in Europe, the only known specimen at that time, which is now in the ANS collection.

Fig. 2. Stornay's famous Extra Fine-45 1793 NC-1, Crosby 2-C, Breen 3 or Breen 1634, Chain Cent. No digital photo in the ANS Mantis database.

            He was a very active coin collector and frequently corresponded with the Chapman Brothers purchasing coins. There are twenty-six pieces of correspondence sent by Stornay to the Chapman Brothers in the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive.

Fig. 3.  Stornay correspondence with the Chapman Brothers postmarked Chicago, Illinois, February 2, 1879, 4 P. M. on a business envelope from the Matteson House. Stornay, a perpetual traveler always wrote to the Chapmans on various hotel stationery in the various cities where he exhibited. The original Matteson House on the corner of Randolph and Dearborn Streets burned down in the "Great Fire" of October 1871 and Robert Hill who owned it sold its remains and built a new one on Wabash Avenue and Jackson Street. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive.

            At the beginning of February 1886 he placed his art collection in the J. V. Escott & Sons Art Gallery, Louisville, Kentucky. 

Fig. 4. Notice of Stornay's illness and subsequent hospitalization. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Saturday, February 20, 1886, page 9.

            He became ill from a minor flesh wound above the ankle and was hospitalized. He died of erysipelas at St. Luke’s Hospital, St. Louis, Missouri on February 22, 1886. He is buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery, Saint Louis, Missouri.

Fig. 5. Obituary of Stornay's demise in The American Stationer, Vol. 19, No. 8, Thursday, March 4 (1886) : 251

            Frank P. Pritchard, Attorney at Law, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, handled the estate of the late Ignatz O. Stornay and corresponded with the Chapman Brothers regarding the coins. There are four pieces of correspondence sent by Pritchard to the Chapman Brothers regarding the estate of the late Stornay in the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive.

Fig. 6. Frank P. Pritchard attorney of Stornay's Estate from whom the Chapmans acquired the Stornay 1793 NC-1. Letter postmarked Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, March 7, 1887, 8 P. M. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive.

            The Stornay 1793 NC-1, Crosby 2-C Large Cent was sold by the Chapman Brothers at auction on June 17, 1889 at the Davis & Harvey Auction House, Lot No. 471, realized $130, won by Harold P. Newlin. For the complete provenance see Walter Breen's Encyclopedia of Early United States Cents 1793-1814.

 Bibliography :

Philadelphia City Directory of 1871 : 1359

Courier Journal, Tuesday, February 2, 1886, page 8.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Saturday, February 20, 1886, page 9.

The American Stationer, Vol. 19, No. 8, Thursday, March 4 (1886) : 251

Walter Breen, "The Cent Collectors Forum," The Numismatist, Vol. 70, No. 1, January (1957) : 25

Warren Lapp and Herbert A. Silberman, United States Large Cents, 1793-1857 : An Anthology (1975) : 471 reprint of Breen's citation on Stornay from The Numismatist.

John Weston Adams, Mongraphs on Varieties of United States Large Cents, 1793-1794 (Quarterman, 1976) : xi

Walter Breen, Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia of U. S. and Colonial Coins (1988) : 178, No. 1634, illustrated

Dave Bowers, American Numismatics Before the Civil War 1760-1860. (Bowers & Merena, 1998) : 18

Walter Breen, Walter Breen's Encyclopedia of Early United States Cents 1793-1814 (2000) : 41, illustrated


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