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William P. “Bill” Donlon – American Coin and Paper Money Dealer

By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek Notes …..
Coin collector, dealer, and author. Born in Amsterdam, New York, in 1892. Died April 15, 1978. Numismatic Affiliations: ANA #4295, LM #101. Empire State Numismatic Association. Mohawk Valley Coin Club. PNG.

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William P. Donlon. Image colorized by CoinWeek.
William P. Donlon. Image colorized by CoinWeek.

William P. Donlon was a coin collector, dealer, and author. Known as the “Dean of American Paper Money Dealers,” Donlon was born in Amsterdam, New York, in 1892, and moved along with his family to Utica in 1908.

Donlon worked as a theater manager and owned an amusement business in Oneida Lake, New York, where he first became interested in numismatics. He started collecting coins in the 1930s. In 1934, Donlon joined the American Numismatic Association (ANA) as member #4295.

Donlon built a notable collection of United States coins and paper money, which dealer Abe Kosoff auctioned on November 23 through 25, 1956. The sale realized $114,240.95.

From 1957 to 1971, William Donlon worked as a dealer, specializing in United States coins and paper money. During this time, he was a regular advertiser in The Numismatist. Donlon’s first Numismatist ad appeared in the November 1959 issue. On or just before February 1, 1961, Donlon’s apartment in Pompano Beach, Florida, was destroyed in a fire. Luckily, his inventory was not damaged, as he stored it elsewhere.

Abe Kosoff's catalog of the William P. Donlon Collection. This hardcover edition was produced for Louis Ellsberg, Sr., whose name appears in the lower right corner. Image: Kolbe & Fanning.
Abe Kosoff’s catalog of the William P. Donlon Collection. This hardcover edition was produced for Louis Ellsberg, Sr., whose name appears in the lower right corner. Image: Kolbe & Fanning.

Donlon founded and was the first president of the Mohawk Valley Coin Club in 1959. He also served as president of the Empire State Numismatic Association and was a Utica Kiwanis Club charter member.

William Donlon wrote the Donlon Catalog of United States Small Paper Money (3rd edition, 1967) and United States Large Size Paper Money 1861-1923: Donlon Catalog (1968; 2nd edition, 1970).

W.P. Donlon's signature. Image: CoinWeek.
W.P. Donlon’s signature. Image: CoinWeek.

From 1971-1978, he worked as an auctioneer, conducting 12 sales. Donlon’s first auction was held in May 1971. His 12th and final auction was held on March 31, 1978, just two weeks before he died.

During that time, Donlon sold John Hay’s paper money collection.

Donjon Catalog of United States Small Paper Money.
Donjon Catalog of United States Small Paper Money.

In 1975, Donlon served as a member of the ANA Grading Service Committee, which was formed to establish ANACS, the hobby’s first third-party grading service.

His obituary was published in the June 1978 issue of The Numismatist.

Noteworthy Coins from the Donlon Collection

  • 1796 quarter
  • Mint State 1795 half dollar
  • 1796 half dollar
  • 1866-S half dollar
  • Gem 1839 dollar
  • Gem 1851 dollar
  • Proof 1860-O dollar

 

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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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