Born in London, England. He came to New York in 1863. Married with five children. He went to California briefly and worked for a grocer in Sacramento. On his return voyage to New York, he was shipwrecked in Panama.
He returned to New York to establish a coin and stamp dealership. He has been called "The Father of American Philately." His first firm was J. W. Scott Company. The Scott company published the Coin Collector's Journal. He sold out in 1884 and the firm became Scott Stamp and Coin Co. Although he received a good price for his business, he lost his fortune through bad investments. He organized J. W. Scott & Co again in 1889. The owners of the other Scott company sued him over use of the Scott name. The U. S. Supreme Court decided in favor of J. W. Scott. He sold out to J. E. Handshaw in 1917 for $10,000 down and $30,000 payable in five years. He conducted auction sales for both stamps and coins. About 53 of his 146 auctions contained numismatic material. He died at home in New York City.
Scott purchased the reverse die for the Confederate Half Dollar. He obtained 500 genuine 1861-O half dollars, removed the reverse design, and impressed the reverse from the Confederate die. He also used the die to strike a token in white metal. These were produced about 1879. Scott then offered the reverse die for sale for $50.
bio: Adams I obit: NUM 32 Feb 1919 page 77; ANAHist 318