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An 1854 Quarter, A Wealthy Slave Owner, A Spurned Suitor & Murder Most Foul

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 Posted 05/22/2021  10:02 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add ExoGuy to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
The coin pictured below was stamped for William Hickman Spiller of Wytheville, Virginia. Holed and well worn, this coin was probably used as a key tag or watch fob. As William was murdered in 1855, this coin was likely thereafter carried by a family member. This is the latest dated of five known coins stamped by Mr. Spiller.





Pictured below is a 1910 postcard, featuring the Boyd Hotel. Built in the 1850's, it featured a wrap-around veranda. On March 31, 1855, William Spiller was socializing with locals therein when he and his friends were gunned down. The assassin was a local artist, James A. Graham, who had unsuccessfully sought the hand of Spiller's daughter in marriage.



Here's a newspaper account from The Spirit of the Age, April 11, 1855, describing this horrific event ....



On October 26, 1855, the Richmond Dispatch reported that Graham was acquitted by reason of insanity; this, being the first such decision in the state of Virginia ....



Some weeks following Spiller's murder, his daughter married a doctor. Graham lived out the remainder of his life, pursuing his art, within the confines of the Williamsburg asylum.

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 Posted 05/22/2021  10:08 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Quite a story, thanks!
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 Posted 05/22/2021  10:20 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add halfamind to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Great sleuthing (and story)!
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 Posted 05/22/2021  11:15 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Phil310 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Another fascinating account! I always enjoy your posts about counter stamped coins.

This one is pretty close to home. I've been to Wytheville often.
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 Posted 05/22/2021  11:22 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Raised on rock to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks, enjoyed the info and story.
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 Posted 05/23/2021  12:17 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Zurie to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Very interesting history. Since he died a year after the coin was minted, it must have been carried for many years afterwards. It must have been a deep counterstamp for it to show so boldly after so much wear.
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 Posted 05/23/2021  09:41 am  Show Profile   Check Yokozuna's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add Yokozuna to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Great coin and wonderful history!

Now I have to do more research on the C.ORTH counterstamp large cent in my collection!
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 Posted 05/23/2021  10:30 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add ExoGuy to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Hi, Yokozuma. I'm happy to see that you and other members continue to enjoy these counterstamp postings.


Quote:
Now I have to do more research on the C.ORTH counterstamp large cent in my collection!


Brunk listed the C. Orth c/s's as # O-116 in his 2003 catalog. They were unattributed therein. Brunk recorded about 19 specimens at that time. I suspect there could be three dozen or more out there. I have seven, all large cents in my collection. The latest dated C. Orth coin I've seen is from 1856. So, these Orth coins were likely stamped in the decade preceding the Civil War.

Considering the small size of this stamp, in conjunction with the upper/lower case, slanted letters, Orth was probably a jeweler and/or watchmaker. The most likely issuer I've found is Charles Orth of Hoboken, NJ. He's listed in the 1859 Hoboken City Directory as a "watchcase maker." After that, he was listed as a jeweler till 1877; this, with no address given. Finding a "watchcase" bearing this c/s would help solidify this tentative attribution.

Here's a pic of his c/s ....

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 Posted 05/23/2021  11:24 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Ty2020b to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Yet again, a great bit of research and writing Exo! Like the others, I always enjoy the history behind these and look forward to your posts. Thanks for sharing.
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 Posted 05/23/2021  12:29 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Ballyhoo to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
History behind coinage has always fascinated me. Even the odd, and tragic, stories such as this. Thanks for sharing!
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 Posted 05/23/2021  3:21 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add MrPink2018 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
interesting. I wonder how much more you know about the names that come up in your research. the names of the other victims (mentioned in the newspaper clipping) as well as the judge presiding over the trial. would be of further interest to learn who owned the newspaper.
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 Posted 05/23/2021  4:51 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add ExoGuy to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
I wonder how much more you know about the names that come up in your research. the names of the other victims (mentioned in the newspaper clipping


@MrPink2018 .... I rarely go that far in my research. I did dig a bit deeper into the details on this story, as regards the perpetrator; this, as my career was in criminal justice. I wanted to know how the assassin's sentence played out. I learned that some of his pencil artwork survives.

I suppose, if one wanted to, this story would make a great screenplay.
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 Posted 05/24/2021  09:10 am  Show Profile   Check Yokozuna's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add Yokozuna to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@ExoGuy Great information! THANKS! I'll pull the coin out and take a picture or two. I can't remember the year, but it has to be around the same.
"Shine, shine a Roosevelt dime. All the way to Baltimore and runnin' out of time." Tom Waits-Clap Hands



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 Posted 05/28/2021  10:58 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add JohnH4444 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
1799 dollar stamped by him:
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 Posted 05/28/2021  11:27 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add ExoGuy to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Great $1, John! C/s's on Bust dollars are not rarely seen by most collectors. I've but one stamped Bust dollar, a 1799, among 2,700 other pieces. I've yet to precisely determine who punched that buck!

I've long wondered, other than some coins, what else Spiller may have stamped. Perhaps, there are other of his stamped possessions out there? His holed quarter was obviously used as a tag of sorts. I read that Spiller had 19 slaves which suggests he ran a plantation. Perhaps, he stamped/branded tools and other valued possessions?
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