Born in Grafton, West Virginia. At the age of 12 he was accidently shot in the leg. This injury resulted in a disability and led to sedentary activities such as numismatics. Married to Sadie.
Adams was a co-founder of the New York Numismatic Club in 1908. He wrote a numismatic column for the New York Sun. He replaced Albert Frey and served as editor of The Numismatist 1912 to 1915. In 1912 he became the first paid employee of the ANA at a salary of $60 per month. His frequent articles included many on the people in numismatics. At the 1912 to 1916 ANA conventions he exhibited pattern coins and a Confederate Half Dollar. He also exhibited patterns at the ANS in 1914.
Adams was author of:
Official Premium List of U. S. and Territorial Gold Coins published in 1909.
United States Pattern, Trial and Experimental Pieces with William H. Woodin in 1913.
The ANS published 200 copies as the only book in their American Numismatic Series.
Private Gold Coinage of California, 1849-1855, Its History and Its Issues originally published in the AJN in 1913.
Hard Times Tokens Illustrated. United States Store Cards in 1920.
Adams cataloged William H. Woodin coins for sale February 10, 1911. He issued one fixed price list in December 1913. He was employed by the Guttag Bros in 1927. Adams coins were included in Thomas Elder sales June 27, 1932 and April 11, 1935. The 1935 sale included his collection of 350 pattern coins.
Adams was an invalid for about eight years prior to his death. He died at home in Bayville, Long Island, New York. In 1969 he was elected to the ANA Numismatic Hall of Fame.
obit: NUM 53 Jun 1940 pages 425-426 (photo); ANAHist 596
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The first substantial attempt at a comprehensive catalog of United States patterns, Adams-Woodin created a template that has been used ever since: year-by-year overview commentary followed by an annual listing of patterns. (See also the Robert Coulton Davis listing, published serially in the Coin Collector's Journal beginning in 1885.) A total of 1752 patterns are herein enumerated, many from the Adams collection, though to be sure other provenances are integrated, notably of Granberg and Brand, and specimens from the Mint Cabinet are also detailed. The Woodin collection was essentially released en masse by the Mint Cabinet in 1909 in exchange for two gold half union patterns, and forms the basis of this work. Said to consist of two large crates, a formal inventory of the 1909 Mint group has never been revealed, leading to speculation regarding exactly what Woodin acquired at the time. In any case, the present volume is likely the closest that we shall ever come to such an inventory. Voted #40 of the top one hundred items of numismatic literature by the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.