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Edward Dean Adams – Coin Collector

Edward Dean Adams
Edward Dean Adams

Coin Collector, Businessman, Banker. Born April 9, 1846, in Boston, Massachusetts. Died May 20, 1931. Education: Norwich University (Bachelor of Science, 1864); Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1865-66.

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The son of Adoniram Judson Adams and Harriet Lincoln Adams (née Norton), Edward Dean Adams was a turn-of-the-century coin collector and businessman.

In 1868, Edward Adams took a job at T.J. Lee & Hill, a Boston stockbroker as a cashier and bookkeeper. In 1870, he took a position as a partner at Richardson, Hill & Company, where he worked until 1878. While there, he married Fannie Amelia Gutterson in 1872. Together they had a daughter, Ruth.

In 1878, Adams and his family moved to New York City, where he took a position at the banking firm Winslow, Lanier & Company. While at the firm, he positioned himself on a number of boards in the railroad, telegraph, and development sectors. Adams served for a short time as a trustee of the Edison Electric Light Company.

In 1890, Adams formed the Cataract Construction Company with the purpose of constructing a massive hydroelectric plant in Niagara Falls, New York. The construction project was a massive undertaking, but Adams’ company completed it in 1895. It was Adams’ scientific background that compelled him to go against Thomas Edison’s advice and opt for utilizing the alternating current method of generating electricity at the plant. In time, Edison came around to support alternating current as more efficient.

In 1896, as the United States was on the verge of suspending specie payment, Adams approached J.P. Morgan with a plan to prop up the Treasury Department by purchasing bonds with gold bullion. Adams presented Morgan a slip of paper, providing Morgan with a power of attorney to purchase $200 million dollars in United States bonds through Deutsche Bank, of which Adams served as an agent. When Morgan and his syndicate oversubscribed to the bond issue, the financial situation stabilized.

Adams was featured on the cover of the May 27, 1929 issue of Time Magazine.
Adams was featured on the cover of the May 27, 1929 issue of Time Magazine.

As Adams rose in prominence in New York society, he also actively pursued numerous community and cultural interests. Adams was a fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers; served as president of the German Society of the City of New York; served as vice-president of the Institute of Musical Art of the City of New York; and served as chairman of the Finance Committee for the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1905-1920). Adams served as a trustee for the Museum for nearly 40 years.

Adams was also involved in various archaeological, anthropological, ethnological, and science-related societies. He also served a term as president of the Edison Pioneers, a society of Thomas Edison’s surviving friends and associates. With the Edison Pioneers, Adams assisted Henry Ford in the collecting of Edison tools and effects for the creation of the Edison Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

Adams’ enormous impact on American economic and industrial growth was the subject of a May 27, 1929 Time Magazine profile, which featured a portrait of Adams on the cover.

Edward Adams in Numismatics

As a numismatist, Adams was active in the American Numismatic Society (ANS). Adams was named a fellow in 1901 and a patron in 1906. A patron of medallic art, Adams time with the ANS was largely devoted to the production and issue of the Society’s medal program. According to research conducted by John N. Lupia, III, Adams was heavily involved in the production of a series of medals issued to commemorate the 1902 visit of Henry, Prince of Prussia, to the United States.

Silver Medal of Visit of Prince Henry of Prussia to U.S. Designed by Victor David Brenner and issued by the American Numismatic and Archaeological Society. Image: Yale University Art Gallery.
Silver Medal of Visit of Prince Henry of Prussia to U.S. Designed by Victor David Brenner and issued by the American Numismatic and Archaeological Society. Image: Yale University Art Gallery.

In 1925, Adams commissioned Austrian medalist Rudolph Ferdinand Marschall (1873–1967) to design his Truth Seeker medal, as well as a pair of medals honoring the women presidents of The American Committee for the Ravaged Regions of France.

Truth Seeker medal. 82mm. Bronze. Designer: Rudolph Ferdinand Marschall (1873–1967). Image: medallicartcollector.com.
Truth Seeker medal. 82mm. Bronze. Designer: Rudolph Ferdinand Marschall (1873–1967). Image: medallicartcollector.com.

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Sources

“Edward Dean Adams: Morgan, Vanderbilt, Edison, Niagara- his was the quiet undertone”. Time Magazine. May 27, 1929.

https://www.lindahall.org/about/news/scientist-of-the-day/edward-dean-adams. Accessed 1/24/23.

Lupia, III, John. Encyclopedic Dictionary of Numismatic Biographies. Website. Accessed 1/24/23.

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CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes presents expert analysis and insights from Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, the award-winning editors of CoinWeek.com.

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