Copyright 2011-2018 John N. Lupia, III
Felix Delos, was born on March 28, 1859 in Toulouse, France. He first came to America on July 29, 1879. His final journey to America was aboard the ship La Bougogne on June 30, 1890 sailing from Le Havre, France, together with his friend a fellow sculptor Alexandre Hedouin. In the 1892 New York City Directory on page 330 he is listed as an upholsterer living at 360 West 49th Street. He married Marie M. Lormand, also a French native, on January 26, 1896, Brooklyn, Kings, New York. He was a French-American numismatist, 501 West Fifty-Second Street, NY, a professional sculptor and marble cutter by trade. On October 8, 1895, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States. He was the owner of an 1804 silver dollar. After bargaining for two years he finally purchased it for only $100.00 in December 1897 from old time dealer, Hugh Roden, who owned since 1870 his shop selling books, curios, and coins at 408 Canal Street, New York. Delos read in the New York Sun newspaper about the discovery of an 1804 Dollar in Montana in change by Billy Seymour, a bartender. Learning the 1804 Dollar was valued in the thousands of dollars he wrote to the editor of The Sun to report that he also owned an 1804 Dollar. According to The Numismatist several experts examined the 1804 Dollar owned by Delos and they pronounced it genuine. The most prominent numismatists available to check out the coin at that time who most probably were contacted by The Sun were Lyman Haynes Low, David Proskey, and Henry Chapman, Jr.
Fig. The story broke in The Sun and rapidly spread in newspapers throughout the United States and finally in The Numismatist. "Has A Dollar Dated 1804 : Felix Delos Bought it in Canal Street For $100," The Sun, Monday, December 20, 1897, page 4
Fig. Delos' advertisement "COLLECTION of old and rare Coins for sale. Can be seen Sunday and Monday at FELIX DELOS, 501 West 52d st." in The New York Herald, Saturday, December 31, 1898, page 13
Fig. Fifth Avenue Art Galleries, 366 Fifth Avenue, New York, Auction Catalogue April 5, 1902, James P. Silo, Auctioneer, Lots 261-263. The 1804 Dollar sold for $55. Scan Courtesy Newman Numismatic Portal, via American Numismatic Society.
Apparently Delos sold his collection in haste to raise funds to take a trip back to Toulouse, France for family and business. In haste there was no advertisement of his coin collection being sold at auction resulting in very poor prices realized. He lost $45 on the 1804 Dollar! Incredible!
On August 23, 1902 he and his wife Marie sailed on S. S. La Savoie from Le Havre, France to New York.
Nothing more is known of him beyond the 1905 New York Census report.
1892 New York City Directory on page 330
"Has A Dollar Dated 1804 : Felix Delos Bought it in Canal Street For $100," The Sun, Monday, December 20, 1897, page 4
"The 1804 Dollar," The Numismatist, Vol. XI, No. 3 March (1898) : 63-66
The New York Herald, Saturday, December 31, 1898, page 13
1905 New York Census report
Martin Gengerke, American Numismatic Auctions (NB lists the auction at Fifth Avenue Auction Rooms, rather than Fifth Avenue Art Galleries)
David Karel, Dictionnaire des artistes de langue française en Amérique du Nord (Musee du Quebec, University of Laval Press, 1992) : 227