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The E-Sylum (3/12/2017)

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Last week Pete Smith wrote:

Mystery Numismatist I have been working to fill gaps in American Numismatic Biographies for the listing on the Newman Numismatic Portal. One early numismatist has been known only by his first initial and last name. This made him hard to identify. His address was known from an early publication.

I found a city directory of a clerk with that last name living at that address. I learned that he moved to a new city and got involved selling stomach bitters. One of his bitters bottles would be a treasure to a bottle collector.

Can any E-Sylum reader identify this numismatist?

Can any E-Sylum reader identify another numismatist that crosses into the field of bottle collecting?

Denis Loring writes:

Robinson S. Brown, Jr. legendary large cent collector, had a terrific bottle collection (which he kept on display in his Kentucky house) as well.

Correct (on the bottle collector question). Here's Pete's answer. -Editor

Sometimes people with connections to numismatics also have connections to other hobby fields. Such is true of Maximilian Salmon. Much of this information can be found on a site related to bottle collecting:

Maximilian Salmon was born in Toronto, Canada, on March 31, 1857, of Prussian and Austrian ancestry. In the 1861 Census of Canada, he was listed as living in Arthabaska, Quebec, Canada. He moved to Baltimore at age thirteen. For the 1880 United States Census, he was listed as a store clerk living in Baltimore City, Maryland. He may have worked at his father’s liquor store.

By 1888 he moved to Manhattan. There he married Sophie Stern in 1890. They would have four children. In the 1900 U. S. Census he was listed as a wine merchant living in Manhattan. By 1907 he was affiliated with the Salmon Billers Company. Their bottles are treasured among collectors.

For the 1915 New York State Census he was listed as an insurance agent with the New York Life Insurance Company.

He died on November 6, 1925, and was buried from Temple Reni-El in Manhattan. He was active with the Masons and identified as a Past Master of Guardian Lodge, No. 921, F. & A. M.

The bottle article does not mention his involvement with numismatics. He conducted two auction sales in 1883 under the name of “M. Salmon” and that is the only way he has been known in numismatic literature. It was the discovery of a Baltimore city directory that provided his first name at 137 Pennsylvania Avenue in Baltimore. It is the same address listed for his father and for his father’s liquor store. It is an address I can’t find on a current street map.

No evidence has been found that he was a dealer in coins or even had a personal collection. His impact on the hobby was apparently minimal.

I asked about others involved with numismatics who cross into the field of bottle collecting. I was thinking of A. M. Smith whose bottles fill three shelves in my bookcase. Filed away somewhere is a bottle related to Robby Brown who was in the distillery business.

I attended a presentation given by Fred Holabird who talked about saloons that issued both tokens and bottles. I suspect there is more crossover between the two hobbies.

Salmon's Perfect Stomach Bitters

Thanks, everyone.

Speaking of Robbie Brown, I met him briefly at an Early American Coppers convention once. Nice guy. And I remember thinking, "But they're ALL nice guys. How come this one can afford to buy coins at $50,000 a pop?" The answer turned out to be the distillery business - his family founded the firm Brown-Forman in the late 1800s, and it owns a large stable of brands including Jack Daniels whiskey and Finlandia vodka. So I bought some stock in the company myself, in my retirement portfolio. I've made thousands of dollars on the stock since then. When I'm in my rocking chair on the front porch of the Old Numismatists Home, I'll have a few more dollars in my pocket thanks to Robbie Brown (but sadly, no five-figure coins). -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: MARCH 5, 2017 : Quick Quiz: Who Is This Mystery American Numismatist? (

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