PHOTO ALBUM

LORIN GILBERT PARMELEE 1827-1905
Jeremiah, Gilbert, Jeremiah, Lemuel, Nathaniel, Nathaniel, John, John

Lorin, a Vermont native, established himself in Boston in 1849 in the bean-baking business. The 1858 city directory lists him as a baker living at 7 E. Chester St. In 1860, he was at 46 Chester Park, with his bean-baking business, Parmelee & Newell (with Edison Newell), at the rear of the premises.

By the late 1850s, Lorin began collecting large copper cents, which were being replaced in general circulation by small copper-nickel Flying Eagle cents (launched on May 25, 1857). And within the coming years Lorin became quite the coin collector, or numismatist.

Day by day, Lorin's workers baked hundreds of pots of baked beans and delivered them to restaurants and hotels throughout the city, picking up empty pots to return. And his fortune grew, so did his coin collection.

In the 1880s, the coin market was on fire -- a situation spawned by nationwide interest in all collectibles, a re-appreciation of American history thanks to the 1876 centennial, and, in numismatics, the sensation caused by the 1883 Liberty Head nickel erroneously made without the word "cents" on the reverse. Among his most notable pieces are the 1804 "Parmelee Dollar" and his 1793 Flowing Hair Wreath Cent pieces with the famous "strawberry leaf."

In 1890, he decided to liquidate his coins, his main collection consigned to the New York Coin & Stamp Co., operated by David U. Proskey and Harlan P. Smith. (In 2017, Coin Week, link at right, ranked Lorin's as one of "the greatest U.S. coin collections ever auctioned.") But by this time, the market was tired. Lorin reviewed the bids at the sale and refused to let many of his scarce and rare pieces go. Although publicity suggested that just about everything sold, such was not the case, and for several years afterward he sold rarities here and there as he found buyers.

The details of the last years of Lorin's life aren't known. In 1900, he was still in Boston, at 663 Massachusetts Ave. He died a few years later of broncho-pneumonia at the Danvers (Mass.) Insane Hospital.

Photo No.: 01-1668

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Updated July 8, 2020

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