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The E-Sylum:  Volume 8, Number 11, March 13, 2005, Article 22

THROWING YOUR MONEY AWAY

Dan Gosling writes: "Thanks to Dick Johnson for suggesting that
a recreational vehicle could be used to reduce the cost of
accommodation while doing numismatic research. An RV with
air conditioning would be much better accommodation than when
I stayed at the dormitory of the University of Ottawa in 2002
while researching my chapter on numismatic literature for the
soon to be released Canadian Numismatic Association/Numismatic
Educational Services Association Correspondence Course Part II.
The mistake I made was arriving on the day the temperature
reached 100 degrees Fahrenheit only to find that my room did
not have air conditioning, a fan or a window bigger than a
handkerchief. If those three factors were not enough to completely
roast me, my room was on the top floor immediately below the hot
roof and located on the south wall!

Dick mentioned that one of the disadvantages of RVís is the
poor mileage. While I was thinking about the risk of throwing
my money away on the cost of gasoline I came across the
following on page 133 in the April 1936 issue of Spink & Sons
Numismatic Circular:

Coin Thrown 270 Feet.
George Washington Feat Emulated
Virginian Town Wins a Bet.
From Our Correspondent Fredericksburg.
Virginia, Sunday.

Thousands of excited citizens crowded the muddy banks of
the Rappahannock River here yesterday afternoon to see
whether Mr. Walter Johnson, the famous baseball player
and the hero of every American schoolboy, could emulate
the feat accredited to George Washington of throwing a
silver dollar 300 feet across the river.

American school books relate the story of Washington's
pitching feat side by side with the famous cherry tree
anecdote. Washington's 204th birthday was nationally
celebrated yesterday. Mr. Solomon Bloom, who represents
New York in Congress, conceived the idea, presumably for
publicity reasons, of betting 20 to 1 that the throw could not
be repeated.

Dozens of State Officials and scores of reporters and
cameramen stood knee-deep in thick ooze on the river banks
while Mr. Johnson, removing his coat, warmed himself by a
few preliminary throws. Then, taking a specially minted dollar,
he tossed it with ease across the 270 feet of turbulent water.
An excited crowd of souvenir hunters fought desperately to
obtain possession of the trophy. The scene was broadcast
throughout the country to millions of interested listeners."

"G. W. E. Russell has a story of how at least one doubter
was silenced before the experiment was made. An Englishman
wondered whether Washington had ever thrown the dollar.
"Of course he did", reported an American diplomat. "To throw
a dollar across the Rappahannock would be nothing to a
man who had pitched a Sovereign across the Atlantic!"

"While searching the web for more information on George
Washington's baseball throw I came across the following
joke: While showing tourists Washington, D.C., a guide
pointed out where George Washington supposedly threw
a dollar across the Potomac River. "That's impossible,"
said a man. "No one could throw a coin that far."

"You have to remember," answered the guide. "A dollar
went a lot farther in those days."

At the following site: More

"In 1936, at the age of 44, Cooper was coaxed out of
retirement to attempt to set a new world record of sorts.
The idea was for the lefty-hander to throw a silver dollar
clear across the Monongahela River in downtown Pittsburgh.
Previously, Walter Johnson had hurled a coin 300-feet
across the Rappahannock River in Virginia, something Gen.
George Washington is also credited with accomplishing. But
Cooper could not reach the other bank of the Monongahela,
which was some 900 feet away. When the silver dollar
disappeared into the water, Cooper said, "I never was much
good at throwing money away anyway."

At the following site: Additional Info

[Now here's A different account of the recreation story. -Editor]

"On February 22, Walter arrived in Fredericksburg to be
greeted by a crowd of 8,000, a large group of reporters, and
a CBS Radio news crew who would be broadcasting the
event live. He made two preliminary throws across the
Rappahannock, the first with a washer that fell just short and
the second with a coin that just did make it. Now before the
newsreel cameras, Johnson made the official toss with a silver
dollar minted in 1779. The coin smoothly sailed over the
freezing waters to land on the other side having cleared an
estimated 317 feet."

At the following site: And More

Dan adds: "I live in an igloo the frozen north in Canada I
am not very knowledgeable about the coins of the United
States of America. Is it easy to obtain one of the silver
dollars minted in 1779 and are they very expensive?)"

[The first U.S dollar coin is dated 1794. If 1779 is indeed
the correct year, perhaps it was a Spanish coin.. But the first
article said it was a NEW silver dollar. So which was it?
-Editor]

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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