Copyright 2011-2018 John N. Lupia, III
The NumismaticMall.Com changing the way we see and understand American numismatic history . . . bringing new light and life to America's past!
The stone rejected by the builder's . . . .
Excerpts from an unpublished manuscript.
The information contained herein was made possible through the generous gift of John N. Lupia, III, to share with you what he has before it is lost forever. The biographical and historical information is provided by the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive, containing over 28,000 pieces of correspondence and is the largest conserved portion of the original Chapman family archive in existence, and the largest held archive collection ever in world history.
The Chapman Family Coin and Stamp Dealing Dynasty (1868-1948)
I. Henry Chapman, Sr., the paterfamilias.
Henry Chapman Sr. (1827-1907), was born on June 17,1827, son of William Chapman () and his second wife Eliza Portens (), at Dublin, Ireland. He emigrated to America in 1848. He married Jane Hudson (1827-1891). They had two sons, Samuel Hudson Chapman (1857-1931), and Henry Chapman, Jr. (1859-1935).
The preeminent American numismatic and philatelic dealers in the last quarter of the nineteenth century to the mid twentieth century were the Chapman family, which was the first American dynasty that spanning 80 years. The family became involved in the American numismatic market beginning with Henry Chapman, Sr., who originally had been in the tea market and made the switch into the specie and money exchange brokerage market about 1868. Henry Sr., originally was a tea packer (1860 U. S. Census) and is listed in McElroy’s Philadelphia Directory For 1856, working on the corner of Front and Chestnut Streets, Philadelphia. He is listed in McElroy’s Philadelphia City Directory For 1863 selling tea at 105 Arch Street, and residing at East Walnut Street, Philadelphia. On February 29th, 1868 Henry Sr., filed for bankruptcy. Afterwards he became a money broker, which at that period of time was more or less a coin dealer.
The specie and money exchange brokerage market in America emerged in the beginning of the eighteenth century coetaneous with Queen Anne's Act. Specie and money exchange brokers always acted in the dual role of specie broker and coin dealers. Collectors looking for the best specimens always got them from these brokers paying a nominal premium. This is largely how coin dealers operated from about 1700 to 1840 when the economic market became more complex following the progressive developments brought about through the industrial revolution. These changes brought about changes in silver, gold and copper prices, which in turn brought about changes in American Federal coinages. As the types and designs changed more collectors emerged wanting to amass sets of the previous older type coins as well as the foreign coinages circulating in America most of them as current and all available through specie and money exchange brokers. This website contains a few biographical sketches of some coin dealers active during the "Second Period 1750-1799" (see Rev. Wm. Bentley, Pierre Eugene Du Simitiere, Green & Russell, Johann Christoph Kunze, Peter McTaggert, Edmond Milne, William Proctor, James Rivington, and so on). One of the early full-time coin dealers in the United States during the "Third Period 1800-1849", was Matthew T. Miller, South Third Street, Philadelphia. Miller was a specie broker who also took on the role of coin dealer in the 1840’s and produced and published a coin book in 1849 (two copies are available for sale in The Book Store on this website). The American coin market became stimulated by the change from the early Federal coinage designs of Flowing Hair, Draped and Capped Busts, and so forth to that of the new Liberty Seated types. About a decade later in the second half of the 1850's in the "Fourth Period 1850-1899", we find Adelia C. Kline  , Ebenezer Locke Mason, Jr., and Edward Cogan, an English immigrant to the United States, began to buy and sell old coins and offer them for sale at the local auction house. The coin market was once again rejuvenated by the new stimulus of the radical change in the American cent as well as novel coinages of two, and three cents in either silver or nickel, as well as the five cent piece. And so the craze and mania began with all factors requisite with the new economic markets of the last few decades of the industrial revolution that allowed the common ordinary citizen the luxury of collecting things as a hobby and made coins, stamps, shells, minerals, etc., accessible and affordable. With the outbreak of the Civil War these three coin dealers Kline, Mason and Cogan, extended their markets with patriotic items. Kline, Cogan and Samuel Curtis Upsham began to print patriotic Civil War envelopes (available for sale in The Coin Shop on this website). Upsham went further still by counterfeiting Confederate paper money to bankrupt the Confederacy. Mason began to write and publish patriotic songs and political songs for Abraham Lincoln's campaign for president, publishing his Lincoln Songster. During the "Reconstruction Period" Mason had begun to publish his Mason's Coin and Stamp Collectors Magazine in 1867, and immediately Philadelphia became a hotbed for the new craze in stamp and coin collecting.
Henry Chapman, Sr., saw the lucrative possibilities in being a specie broker and coin dealer and wasted no time developing his business. We find a notice from a correspondent of Mason in his Mason's Coin and Stamp Collectors Magazine with the initials H. C., which very well might be Henry Chapman, Sr., in the December issue of 1868, on page 100. The notice reads ; “H.C. wants 1856 nickel cent, in exchange for cent of 1793 fair condition.” If this is our Henry Chapman, Sr., he already knew the rarity of the 1856 Flying Eagle Cent and that it would be fair to trade in exchange for a 1793 Cent in fair condition. The trade is certainly fair in December 1868. A Friend or Quaker would only want to trade fairly, so we cannot rule out the possibility that H.C. might be Henry, Sr. If it is then it is probably the earliest record known of his coin dealings. This would then place Henry Chapman, Sr., as a coin dealer in the making as early as December 1868.
The next known mention is of the Chapman brothers, i.e., Samuel Hudson Chapman and his younger brother Henry Chapman, Jr., in the numismatic industry is the filing of their patent on April 23, 1872 for a coin cabinet. The inventor appears to have been one of Henry Chapman, Sr.'s, half brothers from his father William's first marriage to Deborah Penrose, the fourth of six sons, Robert Chapman (1807-). Robert designed it as a Printer's Case-Stand for holding type in drawers, which also had a tilt out compartment for keeping matrices. This cabinet was easily modified into a coin cabinet by Henry Chapman, Sr., who was a bit of an inventor himself and held a patent on a water extractor and as we shall see for a malt processor for drying brewer’s grain. Henry Sr., apparently used this coin cabinet to sort and store his inventory as a specie broker and coin dealer. Since he saw his sons interest in the business the modified cabinet he designed was given to them for the patent to keep them in the business.
Figs. Robert Chapman's patent for his Printer's Case-Stand which served as the basis for Henry Chapman, Sr., to redesign it as a coin cabinet. Henry Chapman, Sr., patent for a Centrifugal Water Extractor. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library.
Fig. Correspondence to Henry Chapman, Sr., postmarked November 25, 1872, sent from Ebbitt House, Washington, D. C., negative cross cancel. Henry Chapman, Sr., was an inventor and applied for many patents at the U. S. Patent Office in Washington, D. C. His sons Samuel Hudson Chapman and Henry Chapman, Jr., also invented and were to hold patents. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive.
Figs. Francis J. Geis to Henry Chapman, Sr., postmarked Dobbs Ferry, New York, June 14 ; July 1  and August 13 . Henry, Sr., developed an apparatus for drying brewer’s grain which he will give the patent to his sons. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive.
Jerome Milton Chapman (1834-1926), the Chicago sugar broker at 2 Wasbash Avenue, was a blood relative of Henry Chapman, Sr. of Philadelphia, and so he did business with him about his inventions traveling there on occasion.
Figs. Correspondence to Henry Chapman, Sr, while on a business trip to Chicago at the Chicago Tea Caddy House. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive.
Figs. Peter Wright & Sons to Henry Chapman, Sr., about shipping his invention prototypes. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive.
Fig. Correspondence from the form of Phelps, Doremus & Corbett, designers and inventors to Henry Chapman, Sr, postmarked April 13  on postal stationery, Thorp-Bartels #552. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive.
Fig. Jerome Milton Chapman (1834-1926), the Chicago sugar broker at 2 Wasbash Avenue, to Henry Chapman, Sr., regarding legal and financial matter on postal card Scott #UX1 PC1. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive.
Figs. Various correspondence from Francis J. Geis to Henry Chapman, Sr., about his invention to process drying wheat and malt for the Centennial Exhibition, and other matters. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive.
Fig. Cary & Company, New York, members of the Silk Association of America to Henry Chapman, Sr. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive.
Henry Chapman, Sr., invented a process to dry wheat and malt but filed the patent in the U. S. Patent Office under the names of his two sons, Samuel Hudson Chapman and Henry Chapman, Jr. In 1875 the Chapman Brothers filed for a United States patent at Washington, D. C for an apparatus for drying brewer’s grain. On Friday, Dec 29, 1876, Henry and his brother Samuel Hudson submitted a patent “Improvement in Process of an apparatus for drying brewer’s grain”, issued September 25, 1877. So, we see Henry Chapman Sr., dealer and inventor filed his patents under his sons names.
The Chapman Brothers published their first coin catalog on September 12, 1878. This catalog contained 12 pages and a cardboard stock cover that had an illustration of their patented coin cabinet on the back cover. The Catalogue of Fine Ancient Greek Gold and Silver And A Few Fine Roman Coins Emported and for Sale By S. H. & H. Chapman, 2043 Tower Street, Philadelphia, contained a Preface that indicted their earliest numismatic practices and dealings. They inform the reader that they engage regularly in the importing of fine rare ancient coins and carry many beyond the catalogue in stock. They also mention that they carry a line of American, English and European coins and antique engraved gems. Buyers can receive any of the coins or gems on approval. They were only following in their father's footsteps.
Fig. The advertisement on the back cover of the Chapman Brother's first coin catalogue published September 12, 1878. Note the similarity in design from Robert Chapman's Printer's Case-Stand patented on the exact same date. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library.
Henry Chapman, Sr., encouraged his sons to work for his competitor John White Haseltine, who like Ebenezer Locke Mason was promoted to the rank of captain during the Civil War. Both Mason and Haseltine were associated in the coin business at Philadelphia about the time Henry Chapman, Sr., made his entry. Both Samuel Hudson Chapman and his younger brother Henry Chapman, Jr., worked for Haseltine learning the ropes of how to buy, sell, trade and market their inventory.
From 1868 to 1878 the Chapman family, i.e., the father Henry Sr., and his two sons Samuel Hudson Chapman and Henry Chapman, Jr., were already established in the coin trade and manufactured and sold their own patented coin cabinet.
Fig. Henry Chapman, Sr., writing to his sons Henry, Jr. and Samuel Hudson Chapman while visiting their uncle, Henry Sr.'s half-brother Robert Chapman, at his printing office on Temple Lane and Dame Street, Dublin, Ireland, postmarked August 21, 1885, Philadelphia, franked with the scarce Scott #205. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive.
Henry Chapman, Sr., assisted his sons in their business from its inception in the beginning of 1878 until he became incapacitated and could no longer work. This turn of events eventually led to the dissolution of the brothers partnership in 1906. Henry Chapman, Sr., passed away on May 20, 1907.
Many numismatists disregard the the fact that the Chapman Brothers were equally stamp dealers as well as many other types of collectibles including curiosities. For example, we find that from May 22-23-24, 1913, the Philadelphia Stamp Co. sold at auction in their auction sales room located at 910 Walnut St., Philadelphia, postage stamp lots, the property of Henry Chapman. This sale was widely advertised in philatelic periodicals including MeKeels Weekly Stamp News, Vol. 27, on page 147.
 Sometime after the Civil War in the late 1860's Adelia C. Kline was joined in the coin and stamp business with her husband John W. Kline, probably about 1866 just prior to Mason's publication of his Coin and Stamp Collectors Magazine.
Edward Needles Wright, "The Story of Peter Wright & Sons, Philadelphia Quaker Shipping Firm 1818-1911," Quaker History, Vol. 56, No. 2, Autumn (1967) : 67-89