Born (as Anders Madsen Schmidt) in Knudsbol, Denmark. Attended school irregularly to age 14. Sailed on merchant ships. Sold chickens in New Orleans.
Smith enlisted April 22, 1861, to serve with the 13th Indiana Regiment. He received a disability discharge October 2, 1862. Later he joined the Navy and served with the Mississippi Squadron. He was at Vicksburg when the city was captured. He participated in the Red River Campaign and was discharged July 8, 1864. He joined the Second California Regiment and was discharged May 10, 1866.
Two days earlier he became a citizen of the United States. He was a salesman in Oregon Territory. He worked with a survey party on the Transcontinental Railroad. In 1871 he was a watchman at the train station in Ogden, Utah. He met a Danish woman on her way to California. She would become his wife.
Smith married Botilla Elberg April 17, 1872. They had six children although two were stillborn and two died in infancy. Botilla also outlived her two adult children.
Smith became a wine dealer in Salt Lake City in 1872. By 1875 he felt he had outgrown that city and moved to Philadelphia. After an initial failure, he became successful and started a coin collection. He was a member of the same GAR post as Colonel Oliver Bosbyshell and Captain John Haseltine. He was also a member of the Masons.
Smith issued his first price list about 1879. In March 1880 he started publication of a quarterly newsletter, Collectors of the United States Illustrated Guide. He would produce eight issues by 1886. In 1881 he published Coins and Coinage, The United States Mint. This evolved into his book Visitors Guide and History of the United States Mint, Philadelphia. Smith's major book was the Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Gold and Silver Coins of the World in 1886.
In 1886 Smith moved to Minneapolis. He continued to be prosperous in the wine business. He continued to issue price lists until 1905. He died at home in Minneapolis.
In 1935 a local bank, acting for Botilla Smith, consigned the Smith collection to Bolender for sale. He described the collection as requiring five boxes weighing almost five hundred pounds. It included over 3000 large cents, 2000 half cents and over a thousand proof sets. The total collection was more than 15,000 pieces. Bolender conducted five sales with the Smith coins and disposed of others privately.
In his collection was the unique 1884 proof set struck in copper. The existence of the set is an indication of his former close association with officials at the mint.
An exhibit of books and promotional items issued by A. M. Smith won “Best-of-Show” at the 1996 ANA convention.
bio: NUM/NIN 5/93
profile: NN 5/7/91
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Coins and coinage. The United States mint, Philadelphia, history, biography, statistics, work, machinery, products, officials
A basic guide to numismatics, particularly American, aimed at visitors to the United States Mint in Philadelphia. Smith's inclusion of a 7-page biographical entry on Mint Director Archibald Loudon Snowden was likely intended to facilitate favorable distribution of the work.