Fig. 1. Photo of Dikran G. Kelekian circa 1893.

Copyright © 2011-2018 John N. Lupia III

Dikran Garabed Kelekian (1868-1951), art, antiquities and coin collector and dealer. He was born December 31, 1868, in Caesarea, Turkey, son of an Armenian banker from Kayseri (Caesarea), Turkey.

He appears to have begun his career somehow involved in the archaeological excavations of medieval Persian ceramics south of Tehran at Rayy (Rhey), probably at the time of the British archaeologist George Nathaniel Curzon (1859-1925), between 1889-1890.

He and his brother Havannes (Turkish, Kevork) opened a shop in Istanbul, Turkey around 1890. In 1892, the government appointed him Commissioner of the Persian Pavilion at the World Columbian Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. En route to America he and his brother Havannes opened shop at London sometime around the winter of 1892. He left Liverpool, England sailing on the SS Campania in April 1893 and arrived in New York city where he remained becoming a Naturalized U. S. citizen on May 10, 1893.

He arrived in Chicago about mid November 1893. Eight months later he met Robert A. McClure, Curator of the Cabinet of the United States Mint.

Fig. 2. A tongue-in-cheek report by a Philadelphia journalist of McClure's meeting with Kelekian at the Chicago World's Fair. The Philadelphia Telegraph, June 15, 1894, reprinted in The Pottsville Review, June 16, 1894 and also in The Numismatist, August (1894) : 159

He opened shop at 303 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York about January 1896. There he and his brother sold art, antiquities and ancient coins and served as agents for buyers including at auctions. He became a correspondent with the Chapman Brothers and served as a supplier for Greek and Roman coins for their patrons. There are many such letters in the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive.

Fig. 3. A letter from the Kelekian Brothers to the Chapman Brothers regarding ancient Greek and Roman coins, dated February 11, 1896, New York. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive.

In the Summer of 1896 the Ottoman rulers of Turkey experienced political disturbances and tensions surmounted. Kelekian served as the secretary of ex-Patriarch Izmirlian in Istanbul, Turkey. In September 1896 Kelekian was forced out of Istanbul, since he was harassed by police who continuously followed him throughout the city. He opened shop with his brother Kevork at Paris, France. Shortly afterwards he published political essays in French on the political solution to the crisis in Turkey opting to use the Austro-Hungarian Constitution to relinquish the meddling of the affairs of state by the Sultan and give the citizens a greater say in matters.

Fig. Kelekian offering services as an art agent and bidder at the Dana auction. The Sun, Sunday, February 13, 1898, page 11.

Fig. A newspaper story about Kelekian's shop in New York. Brooklyn Life, Saturday, February 11, 1899, page 6

In 1900, he served as a juror at the Exposition Universelle, Paris.

In 1903 he loaned antiquities to the Exposition des arts musulmans au Musée des arts décoratifs. Also in 1903 he auctioned off many antiquities in New York.

Fig. A newspaper advertisement of Kelekian's auction April 15-18, 1903, at American Art Association, or American Art Galleries, New York. This is only one of several. None are cited by Martin Gengerke. It was about this time the Shah of Iran granted Kelekian the honorific title of Khan.

In 1904, he exhibited antiquities and rare coins at the Saint Louis Exposition and traded foreign and ancient coins with Farran Zerbe.

In 1909 he help found the Armenian General Benevolent Union serving on the Board of Directors and also an orphanage named Dikran Kelekian in the Turkish city of Deort Yol.

By about 1910 he moved his shop to 709 Fifth Avenue, New York.

By about 1930 he moved his shop to the second floor, 598 Madison Avenue, New York.

On December 30, 1936 he was married at Manhattan, New York.

Fig. Dikran G. Kelekian circa 1938. Photo by Alfredo Valente.

By about 1940 he moved his shop to 20 East 57th Street, New York.

He died from a fatal fall from the twenty-third floor of the St. Moritz Hotel in New York City on January 30, 1951.

Fig. Dikran Kelekian's death reported nationally and internationally through the wire service. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Tuesday, January 30, 1951, page 3.

Bibliography :

The Inter Ocean, Tuesday, November 21, 1893, page 8

"Rare Ancient Coins," The Pottsville Review, June 16, 1894, page 1

The Numismatist, August (1894) : 159

The Times (London), Saturday, September 12, 1896, page 5

"How Gordon Would Have Solved the Turkish Problem," The Sun (New York), Sunday, November 22, 1896, page 6

SS Campania List, June 25, 1898

New York City Directory, 1899, page 682

U. S. Passport Application, February 10, 1904

New York City Directory, 1914, page 652

SS Leviathan List, November 8, 1927

New York City Directory, 1933, page 3587

New York City Directory, 1943, page 534

Martin Gengerke, American Numismatic Auctions