Copyright © 2011-2018 John N. Lupia III

Fig. 1. The logo of the Goldsmith and Coin Dealer, Edmond Milne, the Sign of the Crown and Three Pearls. Pennsylvania Journal, November 8, 1764

“EDMOND MILNE, Goldsmith and Jeweller, At the Sign of the Crown and 3 Pearls, next Door to the Corner of Market street, in Second-street, PHILADELPHIA; Begs Leave to inform the Public that he has just Imported in the last Vessel from LONDON, . . . . gold, silver and silver gilt Mason’s Medals . . . .” Pennsylvania Journal, Thursday, December 8 & 15, 1763 and November 8, 1764, Maryland Gazette, Thursday, May 24, 1764; Pennsylvania Gazette, Thursday, January 3, 1765. [1]

English Masonic medals struck or cast in precious metals were imported and sold by jewelers at their shops as part of the regular retail trade or at times in auction sales. Milne was not known to have sold his work or imported stock through the auction forum, but rather seems to have been a retailer. As a goldsmith he also made medals as was the custom then as now. During his period of history it was fairly common for engravers, goldsmiths and silversmith to advertise they made medals or more specifically "Mason Medals" as he did in the Maryland Gazette, March 16, 1763. His logo “The Crown and 3 Pearls” was painted on a wooden sign suspended from metal brackets above his shop’s door on Second Street, next door to “The Indian King”. Two engravings of this logo are known and were frequently published in his advertisements.

Edmond (or variant) Edmund Milne (1724-1822), was a goldsmith and early Philadelphia numismatic dealer.[2]He succeeded Charles J. Dutens in the winter of 1757, as a silversmith at Philadelphia.[3] His earliest known advertisement was published, December 22, 1757, Pennsylvania Gazette, where he announces that after having worked for Charles J. Dutens Jewelry Shop, next to the Indian King on Market Street, for the past two years, i.e., from 1755 to 1757, he now succeeds him running his own shop independently as a medallist and jeweler. Milne, at the age of twenty-one was an independent goldsmith. The two years previous employment with Dutens was hardly sufficient to satisfy the demands of the public for a professional to hang his sign on the streets of Philadelphia. Whom he was apprenticed to before Dutens is not yet known, but he probably finished his apprenticeship not after 1744.[5] Sometime around 1755 he was working for Dutens at Philadelphia since he avers that he has already been in his employment these past two years in December 1757. He is best known as the silversmith who was employed by General George Washington. In 1776, Washington commissioned him to make a silver-hilted sword to be presented to his secretary Lt. Col. Joseph Reed. In 1777, he made from sixteen silver Dollars given him by Gen. George Washington a dozen coin-silver camp cups for him. Perhaps sufficient to give one a good idea of what these camp cups might have looked like is a silver “Cann” an example of his work in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 40.57.5.[6] Milne charged Washington £8.8 for the 12 cups.

Milne sojourned to England late November or early December 1761 placing a notice of this in the Pennsylvania Journal and Weekly Advertiser, November 19, 1761. He tells his clientele he is leaving his shop open in capable hands of his assistants. We learn the name of one assistant, James Samuel Gordon, born in Scotland and a jeweler was one of his indentured servants who ran away in the beginning of April 1771 as published in a notice about him as run away in thePennsylvania Gazette, April 4, 1771. He was assigned to six months as an indentured servant on July 2, 1772. Other indentured servants were Honora Malone assigned to four years beginning July 15, 1773, and William Squibb assigned to two years beginning September 20, 1773.

There is little research published on him and a few scattered notices regarding real estate and reimbursements for land surveys and so forth, which he sold at auction March 16, 1785 advertised in the Freeman Journal. An advertisement of Edmond Milne, December 15, 1763, in the Pennsylvania Journal, for example, was cited by Alfred Coxe Prime, The Arts and Crafts in Philadelphia Maryland and South Carolina, 1721-1785 (The Walpole Society, 1929), 80-82; Harrold E. Gillingham, The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Volume 54, (1930) : 38-40, 392; Volume 58, No. 2 (1934) : 97-126; Clara Louise Avery, Early American Silver (Russell & Russell, 1968) : 183, 187, 230. There are several silver and gold pieces in various collections also in the survey of literature published on him.

The 1793 Philadelphia Septennial Census lists him as a gentleman, rather than a goldsmith or jeweler, since he retired six years earlier in February 1787. His daughter Eliza married John Russell, the famous printer at Boston on April 17, 1793. In August 1795, he opened a shoe store at 34 Arch Street corner of 3d Street, named Edmund Milne & Co. His wife Elizabeth died at Philadelphia on January 13, 1796.

In the 1810 U. S. Census he appears to be living with his son Richard Milne at Philadelphia.

Correspondence of Richard Milne, son of Edmond Milne, postmarked on the Ship Manchester, December 3, 1825.

He died at age 98 in Northern Liberties on February 4, 1822. He is buried in the 2d Baptist Cemetery


[1] Cited in Alfred Coxe Prime, The Arts & Crafts in Philadelphia, Maryland and South Carolina 1721-1785 : Gleanings From Newspapers (Topsfield, Massachusetts: Walpole Society, 1929) : 80-82

[2] William Bentley (1759-1819) another early coin dealer would become active at Boston selling numismatic material more than twenty years later. At this time Bentley was only 4 years old when Milne was selling coins and medals at Philadelphia.

[3] Harrold E. Gillingham, “Indian Silver Ornaments,” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Volume 58, No. 2 (1934) : 110, n.18

[4] Philip Sheldon Foner, History of the Labor Movement in the United States. Vol. 1: From Colonial Times to the Founding of The American Federation of Labor. (1947) : 22

[5] Edmond Milne, when twenty-year old most probably already completed his apprenticeship and worked as a goldsmith when Ephraim Brasher was born April 18, 1744.

[6] The Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Volume 35 (1940) : 132


The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Volume 58 (1934) :

Los Angeles County Museum Quarterly (1941) : 273

Katharine Morrison McClinton, Collecting American 19th Century Silver (1968) : 212

Philadelphia, three centuries of American art: Bicentennial Exhibition, April 11-October 10, 1976 (1976) : 84

Daniel Hartzler, American Silver-Hilted, Revolutionary and Early Federal Swords. (2015) Volume 1 : unpaginated