Born at Catassauqa near Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Moved to Philadelphia in 1818 to learn piano making and was employed in that field until 1869. Married twice with six children.
Mickley began to collect cents with a search for one from his birth year. He is sometimes called "The father of American numismatics." On April 13, 1867, he lost $16,000 worth of coins in a burglary. His remaining collection was consigned for sale by Woodward October 28 to November 2, 1867. It included an 1804 dollar purchased by Lilliendahl for $750. At the time that was believed to set a price record for a single coin. Mickley had obtained the coin from a bank teller who had received the dollar as a deposit.
Mickley wrote a pamphlet Dates of United States Coins and Their Degree of Rarity. Mickley purchased discarded coin dies sold by the mint as scrap metal. He collaborated with Cogan to produce restrikes of cents of 1804 and 1823. They also produced a small number of restrike cents of 1810. This is believed to have occurred about 1868 or 1869. The cent dies were sold to Montroville Dickeson and later Captain Haseltine. He was an honorary member of the Boston Numismatic Society and the ANS. He died in Philadelphia at the home of his doctor.
An auction of remnants from the collection was conducted by Mason November 5-6, 1878. A group of about 20 coin dies was cataloged for sale but were confiscated prior to the sale. An investigation produced strong evidence that dies for the Adams medal were legitimately sold to Mickley through the Eckfeldt family. It was reported that the government paid the estate for the estimated fair value of the dies that were confiscated. Two more groups of remainders were sold at auction by Haseltine in 1879 and Woodward in 1883.
Mickley was the subject of several medals. One dated 1867 has Mickley on the obverse and the reverse legend President of the Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Philadelphia.
Mickley travelled extensively through Europe. In Stockholm he met Lea Ahlborne and agreed to sit for a portrait that Ahlborn would engrave on a medal. The medal was produced by the Swedish Mint about 1879. Silver medals were struck in Sweden. The dies were brought to America. Bronze medals were struck and sold for $2.50. The medal was reissued again about 1958.
bio: Attinelli page 49; NN 8/19/63 (photo); CW/NM 3/17/76; NUM/NIN May, 95
obit: AJN 12 Apr 1878 pages 103-105
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1 entries found for [year:1862]
Letter from Joseph J. Mickley to Francis Lepire, dated 1862. Published in Coin World 10/29/1969.
Your letter of the 13th was received and contents noted. I have made inquiry of a Coin dealer, what he would sell the coins you inquire about, at. He gave me the following. 1793 Cent 75 Cts to $2 and as high as $10 if in fine preservation, 1795 ½ Cent, 50 Ct, $1 upwards, 1797 do. 25 cts, - 1831, $6 to $8, 1836 $4 to $6, 1852 $4.50 to $6 – Dollars 1796, $2 – 1797 $1.25, - 1801 & 1802 1.50 each.
A young man left the Cents of 1793 & 1794 with me to sell for him for which he wants $2. The 1793 has the 13 links on the Reverse, which is a rare Type, it is in a fair condition, all legible, I think you would do well to procure these.
I don’t deal in coins any further than that frequently some are left with me by persons, for sale. I have a lot now, sent to me from England, to be disposed of, they consist of Coins and medals relating to this Country, among which are Massachusetts Silver Shillings, form $1.50 to $10 each, - Sixpences – Threepences & twopences. – The Chalmers Annapolis Silver Shilling, Sixpence & Threepence, the price of this is 17 pounds 17 shillings, this is rather high, though the last two pieces are extremely rare, a number of Copper pieces: Washington, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, several Cents & Halves of the U.S. Mint, etc., etc., - The rare U.S.A. Bar Cent Reverse 13 bars. The price of this is five pounds.
There are also some Silver & Bronze Medals in the lot, viz: Lafayette 5th – Louisburg taken, 2 varieties, - Quebec taken 8/6 each (copper.) Two in Silver, 2 pounds 2 shillings each, these medals are in remarkable fine condition. These, as well as the coins, are very desirable to one who collects pieces relating to this country. I have them all in my cabinet.
The price of American coins has gone up very high within several years past, owing to there being a great many Collectors and to our old coins being recoined, the old Copper Cents and Halves disappearing from circulation rapidly.
If you collection foreign Coins, I would assist you a great deal, for they are more frequently offered to me than American, they are also cheaper in proportion, it will give me pleasure to assist you in anything in my power, if you would inform me more particularly of what you wish to collect.
In hopes of hearing from you at your leisure, I remain Yours Resply. Jos. J. Mickley.