Copyright © 2011-2016 John N. Lupia III

Isaac Francis Wood (1841-1895), born on Thursday, July 15, 1841, in the old 7th Ward of New York City, then called the Quaker Ward, the son of Dr. Isaac Wood, M.D. (1793-1868), and his third wife Margaret Morell Hicks (1798-1873), the widow of Harvey Street. He was christened Francis Augustus Napoleon Wood. Later in life he changed his name twice: first, to Francis Augustus Wood, and second, in 1868, upon the death of his father and in his honor, as Isaac Francis Wood.

    His father was the founder of the New York Institution for the Blind, and his third wife Margaret Morrell Hicks Wood. He is a direct descendent of Joseph Wood of Gloucestershire, England. His paternal grandfather was Samuel Wood of Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York. His maternal grandfather was John Hicks of Hempstead, Long Island, New York. In their day the Hicks, Wooley, Seerings and Wood families were the most prominent on Long Island.

He entered Haverford College at age 15 years in 1856. He was the founder of the Haverford Alumni Prize Medal for Oratory and Composition. He was the Vice-president of the Loganian Society. He was one of the founders of the Everett Society, and Vice-president of the Alumni Association (1877) and president (1878). He graduated B. A. 1862.

He worked for William Wood & Company the leading publisher in the city and was made a partner in the firm in 1868. He retired in 1871. However he continued in the publishing industry associated with J. H. Vail, Medical Publishers, Booksellers and Importers, successors to the Jobbing and Retail Department of William Wood & Co., to at least Spring of 1884. The company was owned by Joseph Henry Vail (1835-), who succeeded his father Joseph Hammond Vail (1810-1883), and his business partner Frank P. Lennon. Joseph Henry Vail became a Corresponding Member of the ANS on May 9, 1867. 

He was married on April 20, 1869 at St. Marks Church by Rev. Alexander Vinton D. D., to Sarah Emily Bowne (1844-), daughter of Richard Hartshorne Bowne (1810-1881) and Emily Louisa Cock Bowne (1814-1888). Mrs. Sarah Emily Bowne Wood was the first female ANS life member in January 15, 1878.

In 1875, in honor of his late father, he donated a bust of Dr. J. Kearney Rogers to the New York Academy of Medicine.

Numismatic Career :

In order to give him perspective in American numismatic history Samuel Hudson Chapman was born on Wood's 16th birthday. Wood is an illustrious figure born immediately after the very end of Post-Revolutionary War America 1800-1840, and the very beginning of Antebellum America. Coin auction sales had become common for two decades prior to his birth. Collecting coins and studying numismatics were subjects that certainly were salient at Haverford College and most probably when he began interest in coins and medals. His interest in finding fellow associates to collect with led him to be one of the revivers of the American Numismatic and Archaeological Society (ANS) in 1864. He joined the American Numismatic and Archaeological Society on February 5, 1864 at the age of 22, and later became a Life Member. In April 1864 he wrote to Henry Champion of the New Haven Numismatic Society regarding the catalogue of the Yale College Collection. Champion replied he never heard of the ANS, which led him to look into the matter of its incorporation. He spearheaded the nine incorporators of the American Numismatic and Archaeological Society on May 16, 1865. About this time he also spread the circular of the ANS for the Abraham Lincoln Medal soliciting through the mail its sale at $5 each and 20 % discount to any agent obtaining subscriptions. He was one of five members appointed to a committee in March 1866 to found a journal for the society, which became the American Journal of Numismatics. He served as the ANS Librarian from 1869 to 1879. In 1869, he commissioned William H. Key to produce “St. Paul’s Church, Norwalk, CT” and George H. Lovett to produce a “Memorial Series” of medals beginning with “Andrew Jackson’s Public Entry into N. Y., 1866”, and in the late 1870’s restrikes of the Augustus B. Sage, Historical Tokens Series, from the original dies left in the ANS donated in 1867. In 1874, the 4th medal was struck in the “Memorial Series” depicting the Boston Numismatic Society on the obverse and the New England Historical and Genealogical Society on the reverse. In 1875, he was responsible for renting a room and space for a bookcase at Mott Memorial Free Medical Library, 64 Madison Avenue, thereby providing the ANS with its first permanent space, though rented for one year. That same year he subscribed to Sylvester Sage Crosby’s Early Coins of America. From 1877 to 1877 he advertised in Numisma buying Grant medals. In 1876 he issued a satirical political candidate medal of Samuel J. Tilden, calling him instead of Sammy, Shammy. During his final years of tenure as Librarian, James Pollack, director of the U. Mint ceased selling coins to societies at wholesale.  Consequently, he was appointed by the ANS to be their member of a joint committee formed by the Boston Numismatic Society and the Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Philadelphia to have the U. S. Mint continue selling coins at wholesale to numismatic societies. This renewal occurred under the directorship of Col. A. Louden Snowden on March 1, 1879, nearing the end of Wood’s librarianship. About this time he operated the New York Medal Club, also located at the Mott Memorial Free Medical Library, 64 Madison Avenue, advertising in the American Journal of Numismatics April, 1879, as an issuer and dealer of medals.

There are numerous pieces of mail between Wood and the Chapmans in the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Archive, sufficient enough to produce a book about him and their transactions. The illustrations that follow are just a few to illustrate details in the life of a very important character in the history of American numismatics.

He purchased an Immune Columbia for $47.50 at the Mortimer L. MacKenzie Sale at Leavitt, Strebeigh & Co., New York held by Ed Cogan on June 9, 1869. (Gengerke, p. 121; Durst No. 969; Adams p. 21, A) 

First Known Coin Auction Sale

In May 1873 he had Ed Cogan catalogue his collection for auction as : Catalogue of a large and valuable collection of Gold, silver and copper coins : a very large assortment of medals : also Washington, Colonial and pattern pieces : together with a few numismatic books and several coin cabinets, the property of Isaac Francis Wood ... to be sold at auction by Messrs, Bangs, Merwin & Co. ... Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, May 19th, 20th and 21st, 1873/ Catalogued by Edward Cogan. The sale realized $3,516. 94. See Bowers page 363  for descriptions of various lots of Sage Tokens. (Gengerke, p. 121; Durst No. 457; Adams p. 22, A-).

In 1875 as the librarian for the ANS he sold off the last thirteen complete sets of the American Journal of Numismatics, first series. 

A donor, in 1878, to the ANS library. He donated an old dueling pistol, blue Revolutionary Washington plate and Roman lacrimal bottle to the ANS. 

Second Known Coin Auction Sale

On July 5-7, 1882 he sold his collection of 2,087 lots through John W. Haseltine  at Bangs, Merwin & Co., New York. Lot 620 offered the very rare Lovett-Sage Field Medal in white metal. Lot 134, Bowers points out a mule as Equestrian figure to right . . .” (Gengerke, p. 260; Durst No. 157; Adams p. 52, B)

Fig. 1. Postal Card (Scott UX 7) sent by Wood to the Chapman Brothers postmarked February 17, 1884, 3:30 P.M. at New York City. " I sent you by tonight's mail some 50 copies of my circular. If you need more please let me know. I ask you as a personal favor to circulate these I will pay the postage whatever it may be. As regards the catalogue it seems to me you ought to forget Frossard in the matter & remember yourselves & me as I pay for it all. Bangs employed F. [rossard]  However till you hear from me don't send out any. I will be responsible. Yours truly, I.F.W." Courtesy of the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Archive. 

This post card was sent 8 days before the scheduled sale. The Chapman Brothers were apparently upset and a bit rash about the fact that Frossard catalogued Wood's coin collection rather than them and threatened to send the auction catalogues they received back to Frossard. Wood is settling the issue that he wanted the sale at Bangs and they had Frossard in their employ, an otherwise unknown fact to the numismatic historian. There seems to be a double entendre "as I pay for it all" possibly signifying paying dearly to Frossard or because of him rather than a better deal with the Chapmans fellow Quakers like himself. Wood sent 50 copies of the coin auction announcement circular to the Chapmans asking them to please mail them as a personal favor upon his giving them the O.K. and he'd reimburse them for whatever postage expense it might entail.

Fig. 2. A second postal card sent also on February 17, 1884 to the Chapman Brothers. "I forgot to say do not on any a/c (account) return the catalogues to Frossard without hearing from me. W" Courtesy of the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Archive. 

Wood forgot to appeal to the Chapmans not to send Frossard back the copies of the auction catalogues they received without his authorization. The Chapmans were apparently hot tempered and hard ball dealers who wanted the Wood deal but lost it to Frossard and were peeved. Wood is trying to assuage them and prevent a snafu the week prior to his sale. Note his Rahway, New Jersey address at this time.

Fig. 3. Postal Card sent by Wood to the Chapman Brothers postmarked Rahway, New Jersey, February 21, 1884, 1 P.M.  "Please send a copy of my catalogue to the "Editors of the Haverfordian" Haverford College, Pa with my compliments & oblige. Yours truly I. F. Wood." Chapman annotations "sent 2/23/84 5ct postage" Courtesy of the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Archive. 

Wood as an alumnus of Haverford College was sending the editors of his college Rufus M. Jones, John J. Blair and Isaac Sutton, for Volume 5 (1884).

Third Known Coin Auction Sale

He sold his collection of 2,871 and 470 lots through Ed Frossard at Bangs, Merwin & Co., New York on February 25-29, 1884. The sale realized $3,782.12. . See Bowers page 368 for descriptions of various lots of Sage Tokens. (McKay Nos. 3045 and 3048; Gengerke, p. 221; Durst Nos. 222 and 223, Adams p. 72, A+). McKay notes the numismatic library auction catalogue has 471 lots, whereas Durst posits 470.

Fig. 4. Wood letter sent to the Chapman Brothers postmarked April 26, 1884 at 4 P.M. Note he is still associated with working at William Wood & Co. through J. H. Vail & Co. The corporate logo is the classic iconographic motif of  "Memento mori" a skull atop a book or stack of books reminding one of their mortality and that all is vanity. Courtesy of the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Archive. 
Fig. 5. Reverse of envelope dated April 26, 1884. The verso is covered with printed advertisements of J. H. Vail & Co. The Chapmans annotated the envelope writing on it inverted . "Wood $38.55 E     send medals. no letter."  Wood ordered medals from the Chapmans which they sent without a letter accompanying them. Courtesy of the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Archive. 

Fourth Known Coin Auction Sale

Wood contacted the Chapman Brothers on November 23d, 1893 looking to liquidate his coins and medals for much needed cash. The Chapman Brothers were either agents selling, for example, through Frossard's sale December 1, 1893; New York Coin & Stamp on the 15th; or Steigerwalt on the 16th, since there is no known Chapman sale in December 1893.

Fig. 6. Wood sent this postal card to the Chapman Brothers postmarked Jersey City, New Jersey, November 23, 1893, 9 P.M. "I will shit my entire stuff in a few days - do the best you can. I advance what you think right. Business is horrid and I must realize - besides I have lost my interest finally. I. F. W.  Rahway 11.23.93" After suffering from severe debilitating arthritis and financial losses he dumped his entire collection having lost complete interest in coins as he told this to the Chapman brothers on November 23, 1893. This letter refers to a heretofore unknown sale of a collection belonging to Wood. Courtesy of the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Archive. 
Fig. 7. Postal card sent on Christmas day from Wood to the Chapman Brothers thanking them for the sale of a portion of his collection. Apparently he was financially desperate and very grateful for receiving the check enclosed in the letter just received from them. He promises to send on the remaining coins and medals. His exuberance receiving a deeply needed influx of cash is felt in his witty closing remarks depicting him hopping, skipping and jumping for joy so much so he ended the note with great haste.  "Xmas '93. Your favor with enclosure just at hand - many thanks - the action is very friendly - very acceptable and very thankfully acknowledged. I will send the rest as soon as possible. Hastily in the hop, skip and jump circumbendibus. Yours I. F. W." Courtesy of the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Archive. 

Fifth Known Coin Auction Sale

He sold his collection of 1,127 lots through the Chapman brothers at Davis & Harvey, on July 11-12,1894. Bowers points out lot offerings of 24/25/26/32/41 pieces of Sage’s Historical Token restrikes.  See Bowers page 371  for descriptions of various lots of Sage Tokens. (Gengerke, p. 94; Durst No. 636; Adams p. 88, A-. Breen, 693)

Sixth Known Coin Auction Sale

In July 1895 Wood was once again desperately looking to sell more of his collection at auction. He is very ambivalent about selling thinking he might withdraw. The Chapman auction took place on July 12, 1895 at Davis & Harvey.  This letter refers to a second heretofore unknown sale of a collection belonging to Wood. 

Fig. 8. Postal Card sent by Wood to the Chapman Brothers postmarked Rahway, New Jersey, July 1o, 2 P.M. "Phorth of July etc. delayed parcel to auctioneers. Please see if parcel of same gold proofs went in case or not. don't find them. looked over everything too. I.F.W." Note he wrote 6.10.95 rather than 7.10.95. Wood's humor once again surfaces with his spelling of the "Phorth of July" reminiscent of William P. Brown's Kuriositi Kabinet a quarter of a century earlier. He apparently lost or misplaced some gold proofs and queried the Chapman Brothers if it did arrive with the parcel sent to the auctioneers. The mystery gets solved a few days later. Courtesy of the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Archive. 
Fig. 9. Postal card sent by Wood to the Chapman Brothers postmarked Rahway, New Jersey, July 12, 6 P.M. "Just received your P.C. Thanks. better keep till Fall sale as I can't bear to part with case I may withdraw too many associations with it, very choice, I. F. W. Gold kept I find." A cryptic letter from Wood to the Chapmans. Apparently on the day of the coin auction sale Wood seems sentimental having second thoughts about selling the coin case. He seems to be postponing its sale until Fall. His post script is a puzzling phrase "Gold kept I find" but it is explained in the postal card of the following day. Courtesy of the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Archive. 
Fig. 10. Postal card sent by Wood to the Chapman Brothers postmarked Rahway, New Jersey, July 13, 1895 7 P.M., two days before his 54th birthday "Sufficient better to attend losing some. The fustians of the 4th of July and the God forsaken weather, with colic, has upset everything. I wrote you yesterday the gold staid home mee too. Please to send me your dog-a-logue just out. What sort of book auctioneers are D & H. I have more than half of my library still for sale later. Bangs & Co are ex pensive. Very rare makes work morosely low. I suffer from inability to give pensmal discution. oversight, I. F. W. " Along the border "If you can get 50 for the cabinet let her want at a private sale. I. F. W." The humorous spellings and puns continue but his thoughts are quite lucid. Apparently he found the misplaced gold proofs at home and did not attend the auction. He is planning another book auction sale and hoping to find a good venue for the best prices. Courtesy of the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Archive. 
Fig. 11. Front of the postal card sent by Wood to the Chapman Brothers postmarked Rahway, New Jersey, July 13, 7 P.M. The Chapman Brothers devised a private shorthand writing quick notes that were later on typed up and sent out. There are numerous shorthand letters of this sort in the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Archive. Courtesy of the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Archive. 

Seventh Known Coin Auction Sale

In late July 1895 Wood was once again desperately looking to sell more of his collection at auction. This letter refers to a third heretofore unknown sale of a collection belonging to Wood.

Fig. 12. Postal card sent by Wood to the Chapman Brothers postmarked Rahway, New Jersey, July 24, 8 A.M. "Small lot by Xpress for your next sale. Phthankgx for circular & information. No catalogue get send your order shortt. I.F.W." He evidently shipped the Chapmans more coins for a sale to take place late fall or winter and could have been in lots in the sale held December 16, 1895 at Davis & Harvey.

He died two months later from a sudden stroke of apoplexy on Wednesday, September 25, 1895, at the age of 54 years, 2 months, 10 days.

Eighth Known Coin Auction Sale

His estate sold his collection posthumously combined with Dr. William Stephen Disbrow (1861-1922) of Newark, New Jersey and Orville Phineas Hayes (1849-1929) of Alameda, California, among the 1,100 lots through the Chapman brothers on February 17-18,1896, at Davis & Harvey. (Gengerke, p. 94; Durst No. 641; Adams p. 88, B-). 

He lived at 61 Walker Street, New York City, later on at 377 2d Avenue, NYC, and later still at 177 2d Avenue, NYC, but then moved to 193 Milton Avenue, Rahway, New Jersey keeping a summer home in Toms River, New Jersey.

He owned one of the most complete numismatic libraries containing rare books not found in the Astor Library and donated many of his own volumes to the ANS.

He was a member of the New York Academy of Sciences; New York Historical Society, American Genealogical and Biographical Society, American Geographical Society, Boston Numismatic Society, New England Historic Genealogical Society, Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Philadelphia, and many others.

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Bibliography :

Mason’s Coin and Stamp Collectors Magazine, Vol. III, No. 6, June (1869) : 60b-c; III, No. 7, July (1869) : 73c;

Winner, The Coin and Stamp Journal, Vol. 1, No. 1, January (1875) : 3

Sylvester Sage Crosby, The Early Coins of America; and the laws governing their issue. Comprising also descriptions of the Washington pieces, the Anglo-American tokens, many pieces of unknown origin, of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and the first patterns of the United States mint. By Sylvester S. Crosby. (Boston, 1875)

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

The Medical Record, January 22 (1876) : 62

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

        The Numismatist, Vol. VII, No. 1, January  (1894) : 12; “Early Gold Proofs,” The Numismatist, Vol. XXII, No. 5, May (1909) : 141; The Numismatist, Vol. 7, No. 2, February (1894) : 25; The Numismatist, Vol. 7, No. 6, June (1894) : 116; Obituary, The Numismatist, Vol. IX, No. 1, January (1896) : 24-25.

        Allen Clapp Thomas, ed., Biographical Catalogue of the Matriculates of Haverford College (Philadelphia : Alumni Association, 1900) : 89-90

        William Nelson, “Isaac Francis Wood,” The New England Historical and Genealogical Register. Vol. LIV (Boston : The Society, 1900) : lx-lx1

        Arnold Wood, John Wood of Attercliffe, Yorkshire, England, and Falls, Buck County, Pennsylvania, and His Descendants in the United States (New York, New York, 1903)

        George William Cocks and John Cox, Jr., eds., History and Genealogy of the Cock-Cocks-Cox Family Descended from James and Sarah Cock of Killingworth upon Matinecock, in the Township of Oysterbay, Long Island, New York 2d edition. (New York, 1914) : 96-97

        George L. McKay, American Book Auction Catalogs 1713-1934. as cited supra.

        Adelson, Howard L., The American Numismatic Society, 1858-1959. (New York, ANS, 1958) : 33, 34, 39, 40, 44- 48, 50, 54, 56, 63, 64, 66-73, 77-79, 81, 86.

        Lorraine S. Durst, United States Numismatic Auction Catalogs : A Bibliography. (Sanford Durst, 1981) as cited supra.

        John Weston Adams, American Numismatic Literature, (Kolbe, 1982) Vol. 1, 22, 52, 72, 88;

        Pete Smith, American Numismatic Biographies, (Rock River, 1992) : 245

        Q. David Bowers, American Numismatics Before the Civil War 1760-1860. (1998) : 155, 170, 193-195, 202, 233, 243-245, 265-266, 268-270, 363, 368, and 371.

        ANS Magazine, Vol. 1, No. 3, Winter (2002)

        Pete Smith, “American Numismatic Pioneers : An Index to Sources,” Asylum Vol. XXII, No. 3, Consecutive Issue No. 87, Summer (2004) : 302;

        Gengerke, Martin, American Numismatic Auctions, (2009) : 94, etc., as cited supra.