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Dr. Thomas Hall was a retired Boston-area physician at the time of his passing at the age of 68. He had graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1866 with a focus on general practice and obstetrics. While in school he had married Mary (Putnam) Hall on August 19, 1863 and had two children – Gertrude Hall (1865-1891) and Thomas Hall Jr. (1869–1911). His son would also graduate from Harvard in 1893 and become an English professor there. 

Dr. Hall was a noted specialist in colonial and early federal copper coinages. In his obituary (The Numismatist, June 1909, p.187) it was said, “nearly all of his coins were in the best condition obtainable as he made it a rule to buy only the finest. Connecticut cents were his specialty and his varieties of these numbered several hundreds. He made no pretence of collecting the silver series, with the exception of half dimes.” There is an 1889 American Journal of Numismatics ad placed by “Dr. Thomas Hall, Collector and Dealer in Connecticut Cents. Connecticuts Bought, Sold and Exchanged. Correspondence solicited with responsible parties.” Hall’s Connecticut coppers collection held 293 of the then-known 297 varieties – the largest and most complete holding at the time. 

John W. Adams wrote an account of Dr. Hall’s large cent collecting in Penny-Wise (September 1978) entitled “The Hall-Brand Saga,” which details some of Hall’s important federal coins – including a 21 variety collection of 1793-dated large cents.

A few months after his passing, Hall’s coin collection was purchased by Chicago-based Virgil Brand. The September-October 1909 issue of The Numismatist commented Brand “purchased the fine numismatic collection of the late Dr. Thomas Hall. This collection has for years been noted for its many unique and fine Colonials; sets of 1793 and 1794 cents; and the cent and half-cent series in condition and variety. Dr. Hall specialized in Connecticut cents and his collection of this series is probably the best extant.” Hall’s front-line Connecticuts, part of the Brand acquisition, were nearly all inked on the edge (IOE) with the relevant variety information. Brand’s heirs sold the Hall front-line collection, soon after his death in 1926, through B. G. Johnson of St. Louis Stamp Coin, listing the pieces individually in price lists in the 1930s. Many of the coins sold in bulk through New Netherlands sales and others in smaller lots, such as to the ANS and Eric Newman.

However, more Hall Connecticut coppers, likely his duplicates since they are not IOE, were known to have been sold by the Hall estate directly to Lyman Low in February 1911 (86 pieces, Sale #157), to collector Robert Bird of Canton, MA (126 pieces, later to the Connecticut State Library through Frank Shumway, 1919) and to Albert Holden of the Norweb family. 

Most important to the Connecticut coppers series, Dr. Hall was the first to tackle adding taxonomy sub-varieties to Sylvester Crosby’s Early Coins of America, which Crosby had roughed out, but not completed. Hall’s work expanded the documentation on the series to allow individual identification of the many 1787 obverse 33 and reverse Z sub-varieties that Crosby had simply lumped together as a single group. This work by Hall became the basis for Henry C. Miller’s 1920 publication in the American Journal of Numismatics entitled “The State Coinage of Connecticut,” which became the standard reference on the series for the next 100 years. Hall was given little credit for the underlying work he had done to enable Miller’s publication.

Dr. Hall’s most lasting contributions come from his own outstanding personal documentation on colonial coinages, as evidenced by his handwritten Connecticut coppers taxonomy manuscript, now in the Connecticut State Library (a copy of which was owned by William Wallace Hays and eventually became part of the Ryder-Boyd-Ford holdings) and a complimentary handwritten colonial coinage encyclopedia manuscript, now in the American Numismatic Society. Dr. Hall also published part of his handwritten Connecticut coppers taxonomy in 1892 as the book A Descriptive List of the Coppers Issued by Authority for the State of Connecticut for the Year 1787. Those books are quite rare and are avidly collected.

Hall further collected New Jersey cents, Washington medals, and Lincoln medals.

[Bio courtesy of Randy Clark, via Ray Williams.]

obit: AJN 43 Aug 1909 page 139; NUM 22 Jun 1909 p. 187


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4 entries found for [year:1890]

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    Coins of Connecticut 1890

    Coins of Connecticut

    Ford/Hamelberg copy of Dr. Hall's manuscript on Connecticut copper varieties, one of two known (the other resides in the Connecticut State Library).

    Dr. Thomas Hall's Coin Records 1890

    Dr. Thomas Hall's Coin Records

    Dr. Thomas Hall inventory book. See interior front cover for notes on discovery and usage.

    Correspondence related to Dr. Thomas Hall's Coin Records 1/1/1890

    Correspondence related to Dr. Thomas Hall's Coin Records

    Correspondence from Dr. Richard Bagg, and related exhibits, pertaining to Newman's manuscript copy of the Thomas Hall coin records. Also included are published clips, all scanned here except for an article from Coin World, 1/15/1983, related to Bowers & Merena sale of the Brand collection.

    Dr. Hall Manuscript of Connecticut Coppers 1785-1788 1/1/1890

    Dr. Hall Manuscript of Connecticut Coppers 1785-1788

    Dr. Thomas Hall manuscript on Connecticut coppers (photocopy of Connecticut State Library copy).

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