Copyright © 2000-2019 John N. Lupia III

Haines, Ferguson (1840-1925), Businessman, Politician, and Coin Dealer, 67 Adams Street, Biddeford, York County, Maine.

He was born at Saco, Maine on March 2, 1840, son of William Pickering (1811-1879) and Harriet (Ferguson) Haines (1814-1896). He married Hattie Hill (1840-) on June 1, 1865. He died on May 8, 1925.

Siblings : Eliza Goodwin Haines (1842-1842); William Haines (1844-1845); Mary Haines (1847-1847); Harriet Ferguson Haines (1850-1850); Nellie H. Stone (1852-post 1888); Elizabeth Goodwin Haines Whitney (1854-post 1889); Jennie Lee Haines (1856-1890); Charlotte Stark Haines (1883-)

Career :

He was educated at the Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts. He graduated Dartmouth with an AB in 1860 and was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon. In October 1862 he left the employment of the Pepperell Manufactory Co., Biddeford, Maine. He entered into the hardware business at Portland, Maine and was engaged in that trade from 1863 until 1866 leaving that city after suffering losses during the great fire. On June 1, 1865 he married Harriet Hill the daughter of Captain Nehemiah Hill of Biddeford, Maine. He and his wife returned to Biddeford, Maine and shortly after the Portland fire and he was active in the Democratic party there becoming elected mayor on March 11, 1867. After completing his mayoral term in 1868 he was later on made the city alderman in 1869. He was a member of the Maine Legislature serving in the House of Representatives in 1870 and again in 1872. He then entered the cotton manufacturing business from 1875 to 1894 and retired. In 1874 he bought the coin collection of James L. Hill, the late Mayor of Madison, Wisconsin. [1] During his cotton career days he became a coin dealer on the side and was appointed city treasurer and collector in 1879, and fifteen years later served as the first city auditor in 1894. Besides coin collection his other favorite recreation was angling.

Numismatic Career :

Haines was involved in thirteen coin and collectibles auctions during his career from 1876 to 1899. He collected many rare antique American Colonial documents, autographs and letters as well as coins. He was a shrewd Dartmouth graduate who understood how to invest and make a profit from coins and other collectibles he could own for face value or at marginal cost.

His coin collecting seems to have begun sometime prior to 1860 during his Dartmouth years when he probably acquired some ancient Greek and Roman coins as many college students had. We find these for sale in his first coin auction perhaps together with those of his father who also graduated Dartmouth. Coin collecting had also become popular in America with the new 1856 copper nickel cent and discontinuance of Large Cents in 1857. We can only imagine that he like many other coin conscious Americans who could afford the small investment hoarding required to accumulate the old big cents from change as well as other foreign coins which had just become demonetized by the U. S. government kept them in a cigar box or other similar type receptacle. In autumn of the “Centennial Year” he consigned his accumulation of coins, many of which he probably culled from change, to William Harvey Strobridge, selling them at auction at Messrs. Leavitt, New York, on October 17-20, 1876. Strobridge produced an 80-page un-plated catalog with 1,753 lots including ancient Greek and Roman coins, foreign silver and gold coins and foreign medals, and U. S. coins and medals.

From this sort of action we can appreciate Haines as a speculator. A coin speculator, an American term used since the 1860’s, is what we now call a coin investor. Haines saw how lucrative it could be finding collectible coins in change and through buying and selling them at a profit. Seeing that this could turn out to be a profitable sideline of business he became a coin dealer and eight months later held his own coin auction at Bangs & Co., New York on May 28, 1877. He published a 40 page un-plated catalog with 1,035 lots of U. S. coins, medals, tokens, store cards, Hard Times Tokens, and Numismatic Literature. In that sale he offered 30 Silver Dollars ten of which he described as “Proof polish”, a term used by Ed Cogan [2], which probably meant a proof-like uncirculated coin, i.e., a brilliant uncirculated coin having a bright and probably mirror-like shine resembling a proof piece. As an amateur cataloger he did not make as much profit as he might have, had he had a well-known and respected dealer produce one. With this in mind he consigned his coins in future sales to four established and respected dealers, W. E. Woodward, S. Harzfeld, S.H. & H. Chapman, and Ed. Frossard. It was only once more in the late fall of 1883 that he ventured out on his own again. From then on he learned the wisdom to consign the remainder of his sales.

In order to enhance his position as a coin dealer he became a member of the ANS and also became a donor, in 1878, to the ANS library.

During the 7 months since his first coin sale he cherry-picked coins from change and bought others from hoarders. He knew he had to buy serious coins from top dealers to attract buyers at a future sale. As a result he was a principal buyer at the George W. Merritt auction held by Edouard Frossard on January 3, 1879. Among the coins purchased was lot 90, AG-3 Sheldon NC-3 1793 Trefoil Sprig Large Cent, paying $45.50. His entrepreneurship as a savvy dealer had begun.

On February 27, 1879 he wrote a letter to Edouard Frossard praising the response he received from advertising the sale of coins in Numisma. He accumulated so many coins as a dealer through Numisma that the following year, in 1880, he sold coins in five auctions, three of them in the second quarter :

William Elliot Woodward, Sullivan, January 27, 1880

Sigismund K. Harzfeld, Bangs & Co., New York, April 9, 1880

S. H. & H. Chapman, Bangs & Co., New York, May 28, 1880

William Elliot Woodward, Bangs & Co., New York, June 14, 1880

William Elliot Woodward, October 13-16, 1880

His various collections or assemblages of numismatic specimens typically consisted of early American coppers. These include the 220 large cents auctioned by W. E. Woodward from October 13-16, 1880, which included 37 varieties of 1794, and the unique 1793 Trefoil Sprig Large Cent purchased the previous year, and lot 260, an EF-40 1798 Sheldon 152, and an VF 1799, and a 1796 half cent; 200 large cents in the Chapman Brothers sale of 1270 lots on October 17-18, 1888 as well as some in the Edouard Frossard Sale of December 10-20, 1894.

Among the prize rarities he owned is the Proof 1827 Quarter (restrike), and lot 189, AG-3 Sheldon NC-3 1793 Large Cent sold by W. E. Woodward on October 13-16, 1880.

He was a buyer at the Chapman sale May 16, 1888. Five months later he was the seller of a sale held at Davis & Harvey, Philadelphia by the Chapman brothers on October 17, 1888. Among the important coins in that sale was lot 233, a VG 1798 pointed tail Bust Dollar, and an VF 1838-O Half Dollar. Lot 846 which contained the AG-3 Sheldon NC-3 1793 Large Cent was withdrawn. He was a frequent correspondent with the Chapman brothers and made various purchases with them in small and large amounts. He also purchased Pine & Oak Tree Shillings from them.

His name appeared in the March 1892 issue of The Numismatist, in list no. 15, as number 422.


In January 1885, he published letters of Revolutionary War heroes including Burgoyne, Gates, Heath, Phillips, John Hancock, John Adams and General Ward in Magazine of American History. In March of that same year he published in the same magazine another series of letters of George Clinton, Henry Laurens, Fisher Ames, Major-General Rottenburg, and Judge Peters.

In the November 1885 issue of Magazine of American History (519-520) he wrote a corrective about the song Dixie, stating it was not a southern song as most imagine but actually a song from Manhattan, New York.

Work :

“Eight Unpublished Revolutionary Letters,” Magazine of American History, Vol. XIII, No. 1, January (1885) : 89-93

“Five Interesting Unpublished Letters,” Magazine of American History, Vol. XIII, No. 3, March (1885) : 277-280

“Unpublished Letter From Robert Morris,” Magazine of American History, Vol. XXIV, No. 3, September (1890) : 228-229

“Thomas Jefferson to the Secretary of War,” Magazine of American History, Vol. XXIV, No. 6, December (1890) : 477-478

Auctions :

Bangs & Co., Ferguson Haines Cataloger, Catalogue of American Silver and Copper Coins . . . [Ferguson Haines, Biddeford, Maine] . . . on Monday, May 28, 1877, . . . Bangs & Co. . . . 656 Broadway, New York City, near Bond Street, New York. . . (New York : 1877). 21 X 14 cm. 40 p., 1,035 lots. Green wrappers.

Ferguson Haines, November 15, 1883, Libbie, Boston

Catalogs :

William Strobridge, Leavitt, October 18, 1876

William Elliot Woodward, Sullivan, January 27, 1880

Sigismund K. Harzfeld, Bangs & Co., New York, April 9, 1880

S. H. & H. Chapman, Bangs & Co., New York, May 28, 1880

William Elliot Woodward, Bangs & Co., New York, June 14, 1880

William Elliot Woodward, October 13-16, 1880

Catalogue of a Choice Collection of American coins, colonial and Confederate notes, etc. Charles F. Libbie & Co., auctioneers. Boston [1883]

Catalogue of the Valuable Collection of Autographs, Historical Documents, Etc., Belonging to Ferguson Haines, Esq., of Biddeford, Maine: Comprising Signers of the Declaration of Independence, Members Old Congress, Generals of the Revolution, Governors, Presidents and Cabinet Officers, Literary, Etc., Etc. Tuesday and Wednesday October 18 and 19, 1887 Charles F. Libbie & Co., Auctioneers, Boston, 1887

S. H. & H. Chapman, Bangs & Co., October 17, 1888

Edouard Frossard, Catalogue of an Important Collection of Washington and United States Medals, Colonial Currency ...: Also the Collection of ... Ferguson Haines, Biddeford, Maine ... Sale December 19, 1894

Edouard Frossard, November 22, 1899

Bibliography :

George Thomas Chapman, Sketches of the Alumni of Dartmouth College (Cambridge : Riverside Press, 1867) : 449

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

Mason, H-I, No. 1, June (1879) : 8c; H-I, No. 2, September (1879) : 15d; Haines left for Boston late May 1880 and missed Mason who went to see him. H-II, No. 2, September (1880) : 13a; Sale of the Smith Cabinet,” (Mason), B-I, No. 3, October (1880) : 16d (Ferguson Haines Cabinet sale October); H-II, No. 3, December (1880) : 18c-19a; H-II, No. 4, March (1881) : 27d; C-VI, No. 1, June (1882) : 20B ad page; C-VI, No. 2, September (1882) : 27; C-VI, No. 2, September (1882) : 40B ad page; M-XIII, No. 2, September (1890) : 7;

Numisma, Vol. 3, No. 2, March (1879) : 1

Numisma, Vol. 4, No. 4, July (1880) : 7

Numisma, Vol. 7, No. 1.

The Numismatist, Vol. 4, No. 3, March (1892) : 40;

Gengerke, Martin, American Numismatic Auctions, 8th edition (1990) : 32;

Pete Smith, “American Numismatic Pioneers : An Index to Sources,” Asylum Vol. XXII, No. 3, Consecutive Issue No. 87, Summer (2004) : 291;

John Weston Adams, United States Numismatic Literature, Vol. 1, 30, 40, 66, 77, 85, 86, 147, 150

Who’s Who in New England : 494


[1] Catalogue of Coins and Medals, Ancient and Modern, Prepared by James D. Butler, LL.D., and D. S. Durrie, Esq., From the Colleection of James L. Hill, Esq., Late Mayor of the City, and President of the Late Bank of Madison. (Madison, Wisconsin : M. J. Cantwell, Book and Job Printers, King St., 1874). Not formatted in standard numbered lots, but bids were received on the collection as an open public auction from July 1, 1874 with a closing date of October 1, 1874.

[2] Edward Cogan, Catalogue of A Fine Collection of Gold, Silver and Copper Coins. Bangs & Co., 30th November, & 1st December, 1877. See lots 22, 26, 48, 87, 113, 268, 765, 860