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The E-Sylum: Volume 12, Number 36, September 6, 2009, Article 14

MORE ON SILVER DOLLAR SMITH

John Lupia submitted the following background information on Silver Dollar Smith, discussed in last week's issue. -Editor

I read the article about Silver Dollar Smith, and thought the following information I have gathered might help clarify a few things.

Charles Smith (1843-1899), was a famed New York saloon owner nicknamed Silver Dollar Smith because of the 2,400 silver dollars used as a studded inlay in his saloon's walls, lights, counter and another 400 silver Trade Dollars embedded in the cement between the marble blocks of the floor, and a $20 Gold piece in the center of the floor. According to the New York Times those silver dollars paved in the floor were worn smooth as blanks by heavy traffic. In 1902, three years after his death, his widow and son "Half Dollar Smith" ordered the silver dollars extracted from the floor by a stonemason after customers had begun stealing them.

German born as Charles or Karl Finkelstein, or, Charles Solomon, or Charles Goldschmidt, or Charles Zabolowskey, etc., was a Jewish gangster, who legally changed his name to Charles J. Smith. He was an alderman in New York, but was a also publicly known as a key member of the Jewish gangsters of Tammany Hall together with Max Hochstim and Martin Engel, and his saloon bouncer Monk Eastman.

Smith was married in August 1873. About 1884 or 1885, he was convicted on the charge of bribery by the Reform Club. In October 1888 he was arrested for assaulting Charles Dandelion. In 1889, he gouged out the eye of a man and assaulted a saloon-keeper named Frank Wolf. In 1891 he was accused for extortion and corruption in the Senator Lexlow trial when he and Hochstim and Engel attempted to destroy Mrs. Urchittel.

In August 1894 he was charged with extortion for charging $25 to supply a bondsman as a striker for the Shirtmakers' Union. In December 1894 he was arrested for stabbing a fellow saloon owner August J. Gloistein. Despite all of his crimes he used to give out free matzah during Passover to all the poor Jews in New York, and in his will he wished to leave funds to buy Christmas gifts for poor children.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: MYSTERIOUS LEDGER SIX NINE FOUR: SILVER DOLLAR SMITH (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v12n35a10.html)

Wayne Homren, Editor

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