Copyright © 2011-2016 John N. Lupia III
Watkins, Benjamin H. (1752-1828), was born on April 28, 1752 at New Castle, Rockingham, New Hampshire, son of Captain Andrew Watkins (1722-?) and Jane Frost (1725-1790). Like his father he was a seaman from his youth and later in life became a dry goods merchant at Salem. It seems highly tenable that the young Watkins or his father Captain Andrew Watkins purveyed coins from distant lands for Rev. Bentley (q.v.), the Unitarian Minister at Salem. He was an antiquary and collector of books, coins, engravings and curiosities. He died in January 25, 1828 at his home on Marlborough Street, Salem, Massachusetts. His goods sold at auction about six months after his demise by the estate administrator Thomas Odell. His collection sold for about $1,000.00 on June 12, 1828 at auction by George Nichols, and is the first listed in E. J. Attinelli's Numisgraphics (New York, 1876).
At the time of his death his coin collection consisted of 350 ancient coins, two Massachusetts NE shillings, two Massachusetts twopence pieces, and one Massachusetts threepence.
The catalog was drawn up by John H. Nichols, the seventeen-year-old son of the auctioneer. Young Mr. Nichols purchased some of the coins himself forming a collection which he retained into the late 1870’s. Attinelli was assisted in gathering this information from Dr. Wheatland and young Mr. Nichols, now an elderly man in his mid to late 60’s.
“Administrator’s sale,” Salem Gazette, June 6, 1828
Joseph A. Attinelli. A Bibliography of American Numismatic Auction Catalogues 1828-1875 (1976 reprint) : 5-6;
Bowers, Q. David, The History of United States Coinage As Illustrated by the Garrett Collection. (Los Angeles, CA : Bowers & Ruddy Galleries, Inc., 1979) : 16
Gengerke, Martin, American Numismatic Auctions, Vol. 3 (1987);
Pete Smith, “American Numismatic Pioneers : An Index to Sources,” Asylum Vol. XXII, No. 3, Consecutive Issue No. 87, Summer (2004) : 283;
Q. David Bowers, American Numismatics before the Civil War 1760-1780 (Wolfeboro, 1998);
Joel J. Orosz, The Eagle that is Forgotten. (Wolfeboro, 1988);