- 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.Read the Entire Article