Copyright 2011-2017 John N. Lupia, III

Fig. 1. Leiser Wolf Schnelling photograph published in Hobbies, April, 1933, page 84. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library.

Leiser Wolf Schnelling (1897-1981), was born on September 7, 1897, Berlin, Germany, son of Freide Sißle Schnelling. Leiser is a Jewish Ashkenazic name for Eleazar and is the equivalent of the Yiddish name, Leyser.

Fig. 2. 1812 5 Francs. A coin possibly like this one started L. W. Schnelling collecting coins circa 1912.

About 1912, as a teenager in high school in Berlin, Germany, a friend of his father gave him a 5 Franc coin with the portrait of Napoleon on it, inspiring him to travel and collect coins.

About 1914 he worked for a bank in Berlin, Germany.

In an interview published in Hobbies, April, 1933 pages 84-85 he is quoted saying : "Every moment I could spare I spent in the Foreign Exchange Division and had a grand time adding to my collection by making purchases at a small premium. In 1919 realizing the possibilities in the buying and selling of coins I started a coin business and about six years ago came to the United States where I felt there were greater opportunities. I had the usual difficulties experienced by a man who arrives in a strange country unable to speak that country's language, but through perseverance learned how to speak English and accumulated enough money to start a coin company here."

On March 8, 1927, he arrived in New York. He began working and studying English to pass a naturalization exam.

By 1929 or 1930 he began as the proprietor of Colonial Coin Company, 505 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York. Interesting that he had his start on the stock market crash and became a success.

One of Schnelling's more prominent customers was the Prince of Siam. When the King of Siam came to America in 1930 Schnelling was one of the very few who received a personal letter signed by Prince Vipulya, Private Secretary to the King expressing the King's thanks for his best wishes on his successful eye surgery.

His Fixed Price List of 1933 listed coins at prices in three grades. His minor contribution was the cellophane clear view coin boards.

In February 1933 he was donor to the ANA.

On May 10, 1933 he applied to become a naturalized citizen of the United States. This was granted on October 5, 1933.

In April 1934 he applied for membership in the ANA.

From September 29, 1942 to February 2, 1943 he served in the military as a Warrant Officer, Fort Jay, Governor's Island, New York, during WWII.

On June 15, 1944, he married Lillian Schwartz at Bronx, New York.

He traveled to Cherbourg, France in 1948 returning to New York on April 20th that same year.

He died on August 21, 1981, North Hollywood, Los Angeles, California.


Thanks to Christopher Kent Buck, Lexington, KY, for pointing out the citation in Hobbies found in Remy Bourne's sale of Martin Gengerke's Library.

Bibliography :

Hobbies April, (1933) : 84-85

The Numismatist, February (1933) : 109 listed as a donor

The Numismatist, April (1934) : 265 applied and elected

"Gist of the News," Stamps, A Weekly Magazine of Philately (1934) : 414