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Lorin Gilbert Parmelee


Born near Wilmington, Vermont. Moved to Illinois at age 21 but soon moved back east to Boston. In business baking beans and bread until 1893.

In the early days of his business, between 1850 and 1860, his daily receipt contained large numbers of copper cents. Collectors asked to go through his coins looking for rare dates. He began to search the coins himself. He soon began selling many at 10 to 25 cents each. At the same time he was trying to complete a collection. He learned to look for quality and improve his coins with better ones. In addition to selling the duplicates, he was buying better pieces and varieties.

He thought he had the best possible collection of cents until he saw the Seavey collection. In 1873 he bought the collection from Seavey for $15,000 to get the pieces that would improve his collection. He also bought up the Brevoort collection in 1876, the Bushnell collection in 1882 and parts of the Crosby collection. These collections cost him more than $50,000. In 1883 his collection was valued at $60,000.

Parmelee consigned duplicates to Leavitt for sale June 18, 1873. The 1202 lots realized $2272.01. He consigned the Bushnell collection to the Chapmans for sale June 20-24, 1882. He bought back many pieces at that sale.

Parmelee consigned the bulk of his collection to Harlan Smith of New York Coin and Stamp for auction June 25-27, 1890. At the sale two bidders, Ed Frossard and Lyman Low got into a fight over the clover leaf cent and rolled on the floor trying to kick each other. H. P. Smith lost a diamond stickpin trying to separate them.

Total amount of the sale was $23,600. Many pieces from the Bushnell sale in 1882 realized less at the Parmelee sale. The "Good Samaritan Shilling" bought for $650 sold for $210. The Brasher Doubloon bought at Bushnell for $505 sold to Frossard for $415. The Eagle-on-Globe pattern bought for $300 sold for $210. The Birch cent bought for $290 sold for $75. The silver center cent bought for $120 sold for $73.50. The depressed prices may not have been an indication of a depressed market. They may just have indicated the impact made by a single strong buyer. There was less competition with Parmelee gone.

Parmelee bought the Cohen specimen of the 1804 dollar for $500 in 1876. It was sold via H. G. Sampson to William Wetmore in 1878 for $625. In 1874 he bought the 1804 dollar at the Sanford sale for $700. In 1890 it went to Byron Reed for $570. It is now on exhibit at the Durham Museum in Omaha.

He died at the Danvers (MO) Insane Hospital of Bronco-Pneumonia. 

bio: Attinelli page 66; NUM 9 Jun 1896 p 128-130, photo facing p 91

Source credit: Pete Smith, American Numismatic Biographies


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