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Haseltine, John

Born in Philadelphia. Married to Rose A. Idler, daughter of William Idler. They had one daughter, Marion, who married Thomas T. Richards.. [Previous reports that he was the father-in-law of Stephen K. Nagy were in error].

He was a merchant in New Orleans 1859 to 1861. Employed in wholesale boot and shoe business.

He joined the army August 20, 1861. On October 1, 1863, he was promoted to captain in the Second Pennsylvania Cavalry. He saw action at Bull Run, Gettysburg and Gains Mills. He had three horses shot out from under him. He was wounded at Deep Bottom near Richmond, Virginia August 16, 1864. He was a partner with Ebenezer Mason in 1869 before venturing out on his own. He employed the Chapman brothers in the mid-1870's. He issued fixed price lists 1872 to 1876. He conducted 85 auctions from 1870 to 1898. From 1885 to 1897 he managed his brother's art gallery in New York City.

In about 1874 he discovered the existence of the Confederate cent patterns. He bought the coins and their dies and produced restrikes.

Author of Description of the Paper Money Issued by the Continental Congress of the United States and the Several Colonies in 1872. Author of Descriptive Catalogue of Confederate Notes and Bonds in 1876. Author of Type Table of United States Dollars, Half Dollars and Quarters in 1881, reprinted in 1927 by B. Max Mehl.

He was credited with discovery of many rare items. He discovered the existence of the Nova Constellatio 1000 and 500 mill pieces. He traced them to the family of Charles Thompson, secretary of the Continental Congress. He wrote to all known descendents and was able to buy them from Rothmel Wilson, of Wilmington, Delaware. The New Jersey cent with Washington reverse took less effort. He bought it over the counter with a thousand copper coins purchased at two cents each.

Haseltine also acted as an agent in the sale of pieces that came out of the mint with questionable validity. Many of these had been held by William Idler. Examples include a group of patterns passed from Snowden to Woodin via Haseltine. He handled the restrike dollars of 1801-1802-1803 and at least one of the class III 1804 dollars. The Idler connection produced the 1884 and 1885 Trade dollars. The government confiscated a group of pattern coins from him in 1910. They were returned after it was determined that private ownership of such patterns was legal.

Haseltine operated during a time when numismatic knowledge was not as advanced as today. The level of ethics within the mint was also considerably lower. He helped pass many pieces from willing sellers to willing buyers under conditions that were accepted at the time but would be considered unethical today. He also handled many legitimate rarities through legitimate transactions. He has been referred to as the "numismatic refrigerator."

Haseltine was a member of Philadelphia Post 2 of the GAR with Oliver Bosbyshell. He was also a member of the Masons. He died at home in Philadelphia. In 1974 he was elected to the ANA Numismatic Hall of Fame.

bio: Adams I; Attinelli

photo: NUM 22 Oct-Nov 1908 p. 349; NUM/NIN 10/95

obit: NUM 38 Apr 1925 p 224-226; ANAHist 385

 



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