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The E-Sylum:  Volume 11, Number 15, April 13, 2008, Article 21

QUERY: YOACHUM SILVER DOLLAR: APRIL FOOL?

Last week we discussed my 2008 April Fool's piece.  Whenever
the subject of the Yoachum Silver dollar comes up, numismatists
never quite know if someone's pulling their leg or trying to
pull the wool over their eyes.  The enigmatic coin has been
referenced a number of times in the literature but only
illustrated relatively recently.  Many suspect the examples
currently floating around the market are fantasies created
in the 1960s.

In a recent posting on the Coin Talk bulletin boards, James
F. Morris published an article about Yaochum Dollar and a
specimen in his collection:

"By a very strange twist of fate: now over 20 years ago, I
acquired a Yoachum Silver Dollar - 1822. It is one of the
eight (8) discovered by Don Webb and Bob Jones in November
1982 in southwest Missouri. One of the Webb/Jones specimens
appears in the Official Publication of The Missouri Numismatic
Society,   'Missouri Journal of Numismatics', Vol.9, July
1964, pgs. 5,6. To my knowledge this is the first published
photo of the coin.

"In W. C. Jameson's book, 'Buried Treasures of the Ozarks',
1990, reports numerous lost silver (and gold) mines throughout
the Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma Ozark uplift region. On
pgs. 89 thru 100 - The Mystery of the Yoachum Silver Dollar
is featured. My good friend Mr. J. R. Blunk (pg. 99) recounts
his remarkable discovery of the original dies discovered by
him on March 11, 1983."

The article states that Walter Breen and Q. David Bowers
examined the dies and coin at the February 1988 Long Beach
show, although I checked with Dave and he has no recollection
of the event.

Morris writes: "The only other Yoachum Silver Dollar that
I'm aware of surfaced at the Hartzog Sept. 1984 sale, lot
453., consigned by the son of Mr. William Bradley from Rockford,
Ill. (now deceased), and purchased by Mr. Paul Bosco for $400.
The notarized statement indicates the specimen was given to
him by his grandmother around 1922. She was an Indian descent
of either the Shawnee or Cherokee lineage. The Bosco specimen
was re-sold, Bosco, Nov.2000 sale, lot 905. Purchase price
$700. to an undisclosed bidder. Un-authenticated. Although
I haven't examined the coin, it appears to be a good candidate
for authentication."

"Several days later (after the Expo.) we met with Mr. Charles
Fletcher, President of A-Mark Minting Corporation located in
L.A. Ca. to contract the custom minting of the 1822 Limited
Edition Trial Re-strikes from the original dies.  Production
was scheduled for the morning of March 15th, 1988. The making
of the coins were pretty straight forward; but very time
consuming and potentially dangerous for the dies. There were
many things to consider. I think we were very lucky to get 142
coins minted before a small fissure developed at the back of
one die. In hindsight, perhaps it would have been wiser to have
to have a duplicate die made; but another cookie-cutter silver
coin does not lend itself well to authenticity, uniqueness,
value or history..

"The Laser cut edges were contracted to Mr. Hugh Mosbacher,
President of Mercury Marking Devices, L. A. Ca. Each coin
was individually marked C J. R. BLUNK & ASSOC.  INC. TRIAL
RESTRIKE NO. 001/142 THRU 142/142.  Each coin has been hand
stamped 'copy' to comply with U. S. Federal Trade Commission
requirements."

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story

[I checked with Token and Medal Society Editor and former
President Dave Schenkman.  He writes: "I vaguely recalled
the piece, so I dug out Hartzog's catalog. Although it is
difficult to draw conclusions from pictures, I wouldn't buy
a piece like the one pictured in Hartzog for any price. The
die work is unlike anything from the 19th century that I've
ever seen; although not identical, it reminds me of a group
of fantasy coal scrip tokens that were 'created' in the early
1980s; I wrote an article titled 'Caveat Emptor' about them
and pictured a bunch of different ones in the October 1982
issue of the TAMS Journal. The timing of the coal fantasies
appearing on the market and the eight Yoachum pieces being
'discovered' in November 1982 is also interesting. Coincidence?
Perhaps, but I doubt it.

"Interestingly, while the one pictured in Hartzog's catalog
(which sold for $370) appears to have raised letters, on the
one Morris posted the lettering appears to be incuse.

"Hartzog offered his piece 'AS IS, no return.' He also states
that ANACS was unable to provide an opinion, and that Bruce
Smith (a well known researcher of Missouri numismatics) was
of the opinion that the piece was a modern fantasy."

[Have any E-Sylum readers seen one of the Webb/Jones specimens?
Or know anything about the discovery or whereabouts of Yoachum
dollar dies?  What about the A-Mark restrikes?  Below is a
reference I found on the web mentioning the dollars. -Editor]

Full Story

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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