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Lesher So-Called Dollars: Octagonal Territorial Silver Coins From Colorado

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 Posted 01/11/2021  6:34 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add CCFPress to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
PCGS - Privately minted territorial coins from the Old West have a special place in the hearts of many numismatists, and among the most popular of these pieces are the Lesher Dollars. Struck in Colorado around the turn of the 20th century, these So-Called Dollars are large silver medals that were made during the very early 1900s by a mining industrialist named Joseph Lesher.

Lesher (Colorado) Dollars, 1901 Lesher$ HK-796a Boyd Park w/o # Boyd Park without No., PCGS MS64

Lesher was born in Fremont, Ohio, on July 12, 1838 and moved to Colorado after his service in the military during the Civil War. Lesher was lured to the western frontier by the prospect of the riches to be had in mining. However, he became a silver miner just as the whitish-colored precious metal was beginning to experience a marketplace slump. With the discovery of gold near Pike's Peak, Lesher relocated to the town of Victor to make a living in mining and real estate investing. He became an ardent advocate of the Free Silver movement popular in the 1890s and, as history shows us, a hard-money visionary.

As western mines fell on hard times during the waning days of the 1800s, Lesher devised a plan to stimulate the local economy of the Cripple Creek mining district of Colorado. He created a private mint where he could strike large silver medals with the hopes of stimulating activity at local silver mines, thus helping bolster the local economy while potentially improving the outlook for his own stakes in the local mining industry, too.

He believed that silver was worth $1.29 per ounce - nearly double the actual prevailing silver bullion price of 65 cents per ounce for silver. Regardless, the intrepid Lesher decided to strike silver dollars on the basis of his bullion valuation and let the public decide if they would use or disregard the new coins in circulation.

He took a chance on November 13, 1900 by striking the very first of his So-Called Dollars - coins he referred to as Lesher Referendum Dollars. Over the course of the next couple years, he produced approximately 2,000 to 3,000 silver medals. All Lesher Dollars are octagonal in shape and bear a plain edge, though they vary in physical size, technical specifications, and declared face value.

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 Posted 01/11/2021  9:16 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Cdncoins to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I never knew these existed. Very cool!
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 Posted 01/11/2021  10:29 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add acloco to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
SUPERB/UNREAL display of Lesher Dollars in Denver a few years ago at the World's Fair of Money.
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 Posted 01/12/2021  4:27 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Bump111 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

I'd love to have one of those in my SCD set! Pricey.
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 Posted 01/14/2021  01:26 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add kbbpll to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I'm confused. How is this a "territorial coin" or from the "Old West"? Colorado became a state in 1876, and 1901 was hardly the "old west" in Colorado. I mean, we had bicycles, automobiles, streetcars, and everything in Denver by then. Some of these PCGS blurbs are a bit silly.

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 Posted 01/16/2021  02:20 am  Show Profile   Check westcoin's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add westcoin to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I really wish I had purchased a few of these back when I first was introduced to them by Adna G. Wilde (President of the ANA) I was taking a scholarship won YN course taught by Q. David Bowers and one day Adna came with all of us YN's in the class (about 12 YNs IIRC), and Dave Bowers for a trip to Cripple Creek and Victor, Colorado. Adna had one of the finest collections of these known, they weren't all that expensive back then in 1982, maybe a few hundred dollars to about a $500 for a really rare one. Today? Forget about it, they are all at least $1000 and up now.

Adna wrote a book with my friend Ken Hallenbeck on them as well:

You can see Adna's Census survey here:

Fascinating odd coins.
"Buy the Book Before You Buy the Coin" - Aaron R. Feldman - "And read it" - Me 2013!
ANA Life Member #3288 in good standing since 1982, EAC Member #6202, NBS Member, 2 variety collector.

See my want page:
Edited by westcoin
01/16/2021 02:22 am
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