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Charles Willson Peale


Born in St. Pauls Parish, Queen Anne County, Maryland. He moved to Annapolis in 1762 and married Rachel Brewer January 12, 1762. Five children died as infants. Their six surviving children including Raphaelle, Rembrandt, Rubens, and Titian. There is no truth to the rumor that these were the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. His second marriage was to Elizabeth De Peyster May 30, 1791. Their six children included Benjamin Franklin and Titian Ramsey. His third marriage was to Hannah Moore August 12, 1805, and produced no additional children.

Peale was apprenticed to a sadler 1754 to 1761. He began painting portraits in 1762. He studied under Benjamin West in England in 1767. Moved to Philadelphia in 1776. He enlisted in the militia and was elected lieutenant. He fought in the battles of Trenton and Princeton in 1777. Later he was commissioned captain. He was elected to the Pennsylvania General Assembly and served 1780 to 1790. He was a member of the Masons. Peale died in Philadelphia.

Peale opened a museum at his residence at Third and Lombard Streets in 1784. The museum was moved to the Philosophical Society in September 1794. An act of the Pennsylvania Assembly March 17, 1802, granted Peale free use of the vacant State House, now known as Independence Hall, for the establishment of his Philadelphia Museum. He occupied the east end of the ground floor and all of the second floor. The exhibits included more than 100 portraits by Peale. They also included 200 stuffed animals, 1000 birds, 4000 specimens of insects as well as fishes, reptiles and minerals. One highlight was the skeleton of a mammoth excavated in New York. The museum was incorporated in 1821. In 1828 the museum was moved to the Philadelphia Arcade. In 1838 a building was built for the museum at Ninth and Sampson Streets. The museum closed in 1844 and the contends were sold.

A branch of the museum opened in Baltimore in 1784 and continued to 1796. Raphael and Rembrandt opened the Baltimore Museum in the same building. Rembrandt opened Peale's Museum on Holliday Street north of Lexington. The building later became City Hall.

Rubens Peale opened a museum in New York City about 1825. It was housed in the Pantheon on Broadway. It included similar items as well as an Egyptian mummy. Siamese twins were exhibited in 1831. The museum was sold to P. T. Barnum in 1842.

Several admission tokens were struck for the museum. Two Philadelphia tokens were struck at the Philadelphia Mint some time after 1821. The 32 mm medals (Julian UN-22, 23) were believed to be by Christian Gobrecht. The New York medals were privately issued. see: "The Peale Museum Tokens" NUM Jan 1912 pp. 41-43

bio: ApCAB; BDAS; DAB; Drake; EAB; Fielding; NCAB 6; NYHSD; Stauffer; TCBDA; WAB; WWWA-H; NUM/NIN 6/94

Source credit: Pete Smith, American Numismatic Biographies


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