Fig. 1. 25-year-old Stephen Kenneth Nagy, Jr. 1908.

Copyright © 2011-2017 John N. Lupia III

Stephen Kenneth Nagy, Jr., (1884-1958), was born on January 13, 1884 at Newark, New Jersey, son of Stephen Kenneth Nagy (1856-), and Maria Nagy (1863-), both Austro-Hungarian immigrants. His father worked as a harness and saddle maker in Egg Harbor City, Atlantic County, New Jersey, where the child Stephen lived with his parents. They all spoke German and English.

Nagy is especially noted as the coin dealer who purchased from John White Haseltine his father-in-laws 1804 Silver Dollar specimen (Proof 60+), known as the Idler Specimen, and sold it to Henry O. Granberg. Somehow Nagy became identified by a couple as a business partner of Haseltine, and by one or two even a son-in-law of Haseltine, and by a few considered a shady character and crooked dealer, "the top crook of them all" responsible for unauthorized restrikes of coins from Mint workers. Perhaps these allegations might be true, though conjecture indeed, and all are unsubstantiated. Claims have been made that he created fakes. According to Henry H. Clifford and widely proclaimed as fact by Walter Breen, between 1900-1910 Nagy had restruck Templeton Reid $10 gold pieces in gold and overstruck on other copper coins, etc., and Massachusetts & California Co., $5 gold pieces. These claims, though conjecture, have been repeated by a few numismatists as fact to the present day.

Fig. 2. Stephen K. Nagy at the 1908 ANA Convention.

On September 18, 1909 he married Gertrude B. Devere (1887-1937) in Wilmington, Delaware. They moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The following month in October Nagy attended a New York coin auction with Henry Chapman. Also in 1909 Nagy sold William H. Woodin an 1877 $50 gold piece for $10,000.

Fig. 3. According to David Tripp, Illegal Tender, Nagy, a guest, is sitting on the left side of the table across from William H. Woodin at the New York Numismatic Club Meeting at Keen's Chop House, January 1908.

The 1910 U.S. Census lists him without his wife living as a boarder at 4 Master Street, Philadelphia, listing his occupation as a Numismatist.

On September 5, 1910 he sailed on the S.S. President Grant from Southampton to New York.

His 1918 Draft Card describes him as tall with medium build and brown eyes and brown hair.

In 1919 he held an auction at the Detroit Art and Auction Rooms, Detroit, Michigan, selling furniture, medals, and other collectibles.

Fig. 4. Furniture and a medal collection sold at auction in Detroit April 21-23, 1919. Not listed in Gengerke. Detroit Free Press, Sunday, April 20, 1919, page 59

The 1920 U. S. Census lists him living with his wife Gertrude at 1536 North Willington Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and as the owner of an antique shop. Nagy is well known as a dealer in curios, guns, pistols, antiques, coins, stamps, paper money.

Nagy's Silver Sale at the Delaware Trust Building, Wilmington, Delaware was held January 15th to 20th, 1940. The advertisement for this auction was published in the News Journal, Monday, January 15, 1940, page 10.

Fig. 5. Nagy's business stationery in 1940's depicting Confederate State of America $50 Bank Note. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library.

Fig. Nagy circular sent to Matt Gyenski, 184 Strauss Street, Buffalo, New York, postmarked April 3, 1932, 5 PM, Philadelphia. Apparently Gyenski stamped the postal card with his own stamp "Gay Photo Service", perhaps testing it to see how it printed. In 1932 "Gay" meant happy, and in this case it was almost certainly a family name at Buffalo, as well as that of a very well-known collector and coin dealer at Rochester, New York. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. Estimate $100-$200.

Also in the 1940's he photographed the Maris-III plate of New Jersey Coppers, which has been researched by Dr. Roger Moore and Dennis Wierzba and their findings published in the The Colonial Newsletter (2003).

He died of a heart attack on August 29, 1958 at the Hahnemann University Hospital, Philadelphia. He is buried at Egg Harbor City Cemetery, Egg Harbor, Atlantic County, New Jersey, next to his wife Gertrude.

Nagy's auction store was posthumously liquidated by auction by Freeman's of Philadelphia. The advertisement for this auction was published in the News Journal, Friday, January 16, 1959, page 15.

Bibliography :

1900 U.S. Census -Egg Harbor

Daily Arkansas Gazette, Sunday, October 18, 1909, page 31

1909 Delaware Marriage Certificate

1910 U.S. Census-Philadelphia

Oakland Tribune, Sunday, June 11, 1916, page 30

Detroit Free Press, Sunday, April 20, 1919, page 59

1920 U.S. Census-Philadelphia

1930 U.S. Census-Philadelphia

News Journal, Monday, January 15, 1940, page 10.

1958 Death Certificate

News Journal, Friday, January 16, 1959, page 15.

Henry H. Clifford, Pioneer Gold Coinage of the West, 1848-1861. (1961)

"Coins Reach Six-Figure Value," Maurice M. Gould, L.A. Times Syndicate, The Journal News (Hamilton, Ohio), Sunday, August 31, 1975, page 20

Walter H. Breen, Breen's Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins. (1988) : 254, 354, 467, 567, 621, 631, 683, 698, 1822, 3365, 7183, 7264, 7735, 7737; Nagy's forgeries, 621, 631, 7735, 7737.

Roger Moore MD, and Dennis Wierzba, "The Maris Plates", The Colonial Newsletter, Vol. 43, No. 2, August (2003) : 2495-2527

Martin Gengerke, American Numismatic Auctions. Not listed.

Dave Hirt, E-Sylum, Vol. 13, No. 12, March 21, 2010,

David Tripp, Illegal Tender (Atria)

Roger S. Siboni, John L. Howes, A. Buell Ish, New Jersey Coppers : History, Description, Collecting (New York : ANS, 2013) : 217