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R. W. Mercer

Robert Waldo Mercer, prominent Cincinnati natural history dealer, was born in Ohio on April 12, 1840, the son of Anna Day and Joseph Mercer. He married (1) Luisa Sherwood in 1866, and (2) Rosetta Waddell, and served as a private in the 18th Ohio Infantry and the 36th Ohio Infantry regiments during the Civil War (1861-1864). Mercer opened "R.W. Mercer's Natural History Store" at 147 Central Avenue in Cincinnati in the early 1880s, specializing in minerals, fossils, seashells, Indian relics, coins and stamps. The name was soon changed to "R. W. Mercer's Curiosity Shop," and then to "Mercer's Curiosity Bazar" in 1885.

Mercer published numerous editions of The Numismatic Directory and also The Collector's Guide in 1881 and Work on English Coins, 1066 to 1713. He also advertised in The Exchanger's Monthly from 1888 to 1890.

Mercer had two children: Robert Waldo Mercer (Jr.) and Cleneay Mercer. He died at the age of 54, on June 18, 1894. His shop continued in business for a while under the proprietorship of his children and widow. In the 1895 Williams' Cincinnati Directory they announced: "R. W. Mercer Curiosity Bazaar has moved to the Large Elegant Store, 233 W. 4th b. Plum and Central Av. Four doors east of Grand Hotel; all are cordially invited to call and see the immense Display of Curiosities free of charge." The shop remained open at least through 1897 (after moving again, to 341 W. 4th Street), mostly for the purpose of selling off "the fine specimens which he was so many years in collecting," though they did continue to buy rare coins.
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