Edgar Adams

From Openwaterpedia

Edgar Holmes Adams (born 7 April 1868 – died 5 May 1940) was an American competition diver and Olympic swimmer. He is best known as a numismatic scholar, author, journalist, editor, coin collector and dealer. His interest in coins was piqued in the 1870's and 1880's as a child, when he saw the design of several new coins.

In 1880, he was severely injured when a shotgun blast accidentally hit him in the leg, leaving him with difficulty walking and requiring use of a cane for the rest of his life. To overcome this disability, he took up swimming for exercise. Adams joined up with the Bath Beach Swimming Club and later swam for the Human Fish Club and the New York Athletic Club. He won the Metropolitan AAU Championship for plunging from 1902-1905.

After the 1904 St. Louis Olympics, Adams began writing a column on hobbies, especially coin and stamp collecting, for New York newspapers. He also began publishing articles in The Numismatist. He later became the editor and publisher of this magazine. He also worked in the newspaper trade early in his life as a compositor. Adams became prominent in the American Numismatic Association, serving on the Board of Governors. He declined election as a vice-president, which would have led to his becoming president. He also served on the Membership Committee of the New York Numismatic Club in 1910, and was a member of the Pacific Coast Numismatic Society, and the Chicago Numismatic Society. In addition to his journal articles, Adams later wrote several books on coin collecting. In 1969, the American Numismatic Association named Edgar Adams to its Hall of Fame.

Athletic Highlights

  • At the 1904 St. Louis Olympics, he won the silver medal in a plunge for distance event at the age of 36 in 17.52 meters at Life Saving Exhibition Lake in Forest Park, St. Louis on 5 September 1904.
  • At the 1904 St. Louis Olympics, he finished 4th in the 220-yard freestyle, 880-yard freestyle, and the 4×50-yard freestyle relay. He also competed in the one-mile freestyle, but did not finish the race.


  • Adams was a prolific numismatic author who co-authored, with William H. Woodin United States Pattern, Trial, and Experimental Pieces, but is probably best known for the reference volume Private Gold Coinages of California, 1849-1855: Its History and Its Issues, originally published serially (1911-1912) in the American Journal of Numismatics.[3]
  • He wrote a numismatics column for the New York Sun. From 1912 to 1915, he served as editor of the American Numismatic Association journal The Numismatist.
  • He was inducted into the Numismatic Hall of Fame in 1969.


  • Adams' Official Premium List of United States Private and Territorial Gold Coins Indicated by Prices Brought at Public Coin Sales. New York: Willett Press, 1909.
  • The State Assay Office of California. 1850. (Private Gold Coinage I). New York: American Numismatic Society, 1911.
  • Private Gold Coinage of California, 1849-55, Its History and Its Issues. New York, Edgar H. Adams, 1913.
  • United States Pattern, Trial and Experimental Pieces: Being a List of the Pattern, Trial and Experimental Pieces Which Have Been Issued By the United States Mint from 1792 Up to the Present Time. New York, American Numismatic Society, 1913.
  • United States Store Cards. New York: E.H. Adams and W. Raymond, 1920.

1904 Plunge for Distance

The plunge for distance was an unusual event, but was a common one in that era. It was based on the distance the athlete achieved with no attempt to propel himself after entering the water. There were five competitors at the 1904 St. Louis Olympic Games, all American. Bill Dickey won the event easily with a distance of 62 feet 6 inches. The American record holder at the time, Charles Pyrah, was far off form and finished fifth and last.

Gold: Billy Dickey (USA, 29) 19.05 meters
Silver: Edgar Adams (USA, 36) 17.52 meters
Bronze: Budd Goodwin (USA, 20) 17.37 meters
4th: Newman Samuel (USA, 23) 16.76 meters
5th: Charles Pyrah (USA, 34) 14.02 meters

External links