My Genealogy Home Page:Information about Joseph Mickley
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Joseph Mickley (b. March 24, 1799, d. February 15, 1878)
|Jospeh Mickley Medal|
Joseph Mickley (son of John Jacob Mickley and Eva Catherine Schrieber) was born March 24, 1799, and died February 15, 1878 in 903 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA.He married (1) Cordelia Hopfeldt.He married (2) Diane Blumer.
Notes for Joseph Mickley:
DISCOVERY OF JOSEPH J. MICKLEY'S 1852 DIARY
Joel Orosz writes: "In 1980, George Frederick Kolbe
excited numismatic bibliophiles by announcing he had found
Joseph Mickley's diary, covering a span from August 1866
to June 1869.William Dubois had written in 1871 that
Mickley kept a journal for most of his adult life.Clearly there
had been other volumes of the Mickley diary, but had they
During the 2000 ANA Anniversary Convention in
Philadelphia,I spent a couple of days at the Historical
Society of Pennsylvania,in search of numismatic source
material.I had last been there in 1983, doing research for
my dissertation;during that visit, I found materials on Pierre
Eugene Du Simitiere that I used for my first numismatic book,
The Eagle That Is Forgotten.A few hours spent with the
Society's old-fashioned card catalogue yielded some
interesting tidbits, but I hit the jackpot when I looked up
Joseph J. Mickley, and discovered that, under catalogue
# AM1039, the Society owned the great collector's diary
The diary contains nothing that will change the course of
numismatic history, but it does add a couple of names to the
list of people who owned silver center cents (James Hall and
Jacob Giles Morris), asserts that Christian Gobrecht, not
James Kneass, designed the obverse of the 1838 pattern
half (Pollock 77), and it sheds some light on Mickley's
collecting habits and compatriots.
I used some information from the diary in the article I wrote
for the current issue of The Numismatist, "Jacob Giles Morris,
Patrician Pioneer of Coin Collecting," and I will be sharing
an annotated version of the diary with fellow numismatists in
the future.The next number of The American Journal of
Numismatics will contain an article I have written containing
a transcription of every numismatic reference from the diary
and an explanatory annotation for most of the entries.This
experience makes me wonder -- how many other volumes of
Mickley's diaries may be safely tucked away in archives and
historical societies just waiting to be found? "
[Joel's article is a must-read for all students of American
numismatics and anyone with an interest in history.One
JOSEPH J. MICKLEY AND THE TURK
Karl Moulton writes: "I too, read with interest the letter to the
editor in the May 19th edition of Coin World about Joseph J.
Mickley and "The Turk, Chess Automaton" by Dr. Gerald M.
Levitt.While he offered no information about this connection,
from my research about Joseph Mickley, I can only presume
that "The Turk" played a catchy musical tune in order to
generate the crowd's interest before it was ready to "play"
chess.Most likely, Mickley did some musical repairs to the
"Turk" at one time or another.Perhaps Dr. Levitt will
[I don't recall ever reading anything about The Turk playing
music.There are two recent books about The Turk.In
addition to Levitt's 2000 publication, "The Turk: The Life and
Times of the Famous Eighteenth-Century Chess-Playing
Machine" by Tom Standage was published in 2002.Perhaps
the answer to Mickley's connection lies in one or both of them.
Moulton continues: "Most people involved with American
numismatics only know the Mickley name in regards to
numerous, albeit incorrect, stories regarding Mickley's various
coin collecting endeavors.However, long before he became
a serious coin collector, he was a musical repairman and
maker of piano-forte's in Philadelphia.That was his life's
occupation, and he was very good at his chosen field.
Interestingly, it was through his association with people in the
music field (Herr Joseph Plich) which ultimately allowed him
the financial freedom to pursue his interest in coin collecting
after May 1841, when he first visited the US Mint with his
MICKLEY BUSINESS JOURNAL FOUND
Karl Moulton adds: "I'd also like to announce that I was
fortunate to uncover the whereabouts of Joseph Mickley's
daily business journal which covers the years from 1840 to
1848.Yes, this is one of the "Missing Masterpieces" that
fellow researcher and good friend, Joel Orosz outlined in his
Asylum article from Summer 2000, p.73.And NO, this
announcement is not an April Fools prank.
This is Joseph Mickley in a personal manner, the way in
which none of us have ever seen before.It is his daily
musical business journal of his many customers, sales, repairs,
travels, rents, domestic expenses, etc.This is mid-19th
century Americana at its best.There are 573 pages of entries
in Mickley's clearly legible handwriting.Copies of this
historically important work will be available later this summer
for $79. plus $6. S/H.As a special bonus, this reprint will
offer Jacob Bunting's (close personal friend of Mickley for
decades) 28 page biographical sketch about Mickley, written
in 1885.Orders are being taken now and this 600 page
reprint is available exclusively through Karl Moulton at
The recent sale of Armand Champa's numismatic library by the auction firm of Bowers & Merena provided the opportunity to acquire rare books and unique source materials seldom seen on the market, resulting in a very successful year for the library's acquisitions program. Primarily through the generosity of the Harry Bass Foundation but also with the support of Joseph Lasser, Allen Lovejoy, and David Hendin, the library was able to participate in the Champa sales. In the three public sales held, the library acquired a fine selection of manuscripts, letters, auction catalogues, counterfeit detectors, and rare nineteenth century pamphlets and monographs.
Among the unique items acquired in the Champa sales was the personal diary of Joseph J. Mickley (fig. 43), who figures prominently among this country's nineteenth century coin collectors. Mickley was involved in trades with the United States Mint and purchased old dies from the Mint from which he prepared restrikes. He was also the first president of the Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Philadelphia. His diary, which covers the period 1866-69, provides an excellent record of his numismatic activities. Along with the diary, the library acquired The Genealogy of the Mickley Family of America by Minnie Mickley (1893).
many of these items are now in the American Numismatic Society library. To mention just a few, the library acquired Raphael Prosper Thian's "Register of issues of Confederate States Treasury Notes," the personal diary of Joseph J. Mickley,
Joseph Mickley was born in South Whitehall on March 24th, 1799.He was a piano maker by trade and became an expert in fixing and appraising many musical instruments.He even once repaired a violin that had belonged to George Washington.He was most famous for being the Father of Numismatics, or coin collecting, in the United States.He gives credit for the first Numismatics in the world to Alfonzo V., King of Aragon, who had over 150,000 pieces in his collection in 1871.He began his interest in coins when he wanted to find a 1799 U.S. penny for the year he was born but found it hard to find.He was hooked on the pursuit of rare coins after that.In April, 1867, the Great Robbery occurred where half of his valuable coin collection was stolen from his home while he was working in another part of the house.He never fully recovered and decided to take a world tour for several years after the robbery.Even at his death he had such a substantial collection of coins that an auction was conducted and a book was published cataloging the coins and the prices they got at auction.Mr. Mickley was also an avid collector of historical pieces such as letters and autographs.The last letter written by George Washington just six days before his death sold at Mr. Mickley’s estate auction for $150.He also had signed autograph letters of all the governors of Pennsylvania, all the Presidents, and of all the Signers of the Declaration of Independence.There were also signatures of about 40 generals of the Revolutionary War, both British and American, including Lafayette and Kosciusko.He had autographs of some of the greatest composers including Beethoven and Mozart and an India-ink sketch of Mozart drawn by his wife. His book collection and periodicals was rarely rivaled by any other private collection in the United States outside of Universities.He had a complete set of the first daily newspaper of the United States, beginning with the “Pennsylvania Packet” in 1771, and continuing unbroken, through several changes of title and proprietorship, for one hundred and seven years.
Mr. Mickley spoke French and German fluently and also had some knowledge in Spanish, Italian, and Swedish.Mr. Mickley fell ill while walking to an evening recital and passed away quietly and in the arms of his physician on February 15, 1878.