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The E-Sylum: Volume 12, Number 35, August 30, 2009, Article 10

MYSTERIOUS LEDGER SIX NINE FOUR: SILVER DOLLAR SMITH

Last week Tom Kays submitted an interesting series of submissions based on newspaper article found pasted in an old ledger. Here's part two, with more to follow in subsequent issues. It’s about “Silver Dollar Smith” In an earlier E-Sylum issue I'd asked if anyone could locate an image of Smith's famous silver-dollar paved saloon floor - guess what Tom found in ledger 694? -Editor

Another story concerns

Silver Dollar Smith and his Essex Street Hotel

“It was the idea of sinking silver dollar coins in the stone floor of his saloon that gained for this well known East Sider the name by which he is universally known.”

Silver Dollar Smith

Chas. Smith is pictured inset, with an exterior elevation of his saloon including a sign “Silver Dollar Hotel” and a drawing showing the floor, with two coins embedded per rectangular tile. A little later in Ledger 694 we read:

“SILVER DOLLAR SMITH DEAD”
NOTED NEW YORK EAST SIDE POLITICIAN DEAD

New York, December 22, - Charles Smith, better known as “Silver Dollar” Smith, for many years a prominent East Side politician died to-day at his home in this city.

Charles Smith was born in the 4th ward in 1851, and most of his life was spent in the immediate neighborhood of the place of his birth. His life was full of exciting episodes and interesting experiences. Smith practically grew up in the streets as a newspaper seller, messenger boy and vendor of fruits. The only respect in which he differed from other street gamins was in his thriftiness. Where the other youngsters wasted their money, Smith saved his and stored it away for future use. The dream of his youth was to own a saloon and become a power in the politics of the East Side. His enterprise and thrift made possible the realization of this ambition.

Few men whom the lower East Side has produced have wielded more power politically than did Smith. He established the Essex Street Saloon about the same time that he entered politics, and got his soubriquet by paving the floor of the saloon with silver dollars. He had coins of the same denomination worked into the gas fixtures and walls as well until it became impossible for a visitor to the saloon to look in any direction without seeing money. Smith was elected to the legislature in 1884…

We can only guess how many of those silver dollars gathered circa 1884 were of Seated Liberty design. Can E-Sylum readers suggest further examples of garish architecture/home decoration that one can visit today, daring visitors to look in any direction without seeing money?

Thanks again, Tom, for transcribing these interesting articles. More next week, readers. -Editor

To read the previous installment from ledger 694, see: MYSTERIOUS LEDGER SIX NINE FOUR: MONEY TO BURN (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v12n34a19.html)

To read the earlier E-Sylum item about Silver Dollar Smith, see: SILVER DOLLAR SMITH'S SALOON (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v12n29a27.html)

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Wayne Homren, Editor

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