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V14 2011 INDEX       E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

The E-Sylum: Volume 14, Number 27, July 3, 2011, Article 21

LOST-AND-FOUND TALE OF 40 SILVER DOLLARS

We often run into stories of coins used in furniture or as architectural decoration. Here's another tale of a restaurant owner's coin display. Unfortunately, there are no pictures with the article. -Editor

It lifts my spirits to think that it was 75 summers ago when Ed Baumgartner opened the doors to one of the big three of the Quad-City area supper clubs. His Saddle Club in Cordova, Ill., could keep pace with the other two, the Plantation in Moline and Marando's in Milan.

Details are unimportant. What has worried me is whatever happened to the 40 silver dollars that once were imbedded in the Saddle Club's front entry. Now, I am relieved.

The silver dollars or at least the 37 that are left have been saved. How they have been preserved is a sentimental story.

The silver dollar circle was a landmark. Customers would drop to their knees to touch the coins. It was said to be good luck if you held a finger to one of them and made a wish. Some diners courteously stepped around the silver dollars. Most just nonchalantly walked on them. But some nasty people kicked at the embedded dollars. Three were dislodged and pocketed through the years. Those silver dollars were trod upon by tens of thousands of people notables like Ted Kennedy because the Saddle Club was a top-drawer place.

When 1940 rolled around, Ed decided on a tribute to his success as a club owner and his big stable of palomino horses across from his club. Into the black terrazzo floor of the club's entry, Ed had craftsmen carve a 4-foot circle. Into this circle, an artisan molded an image of the head of a beige palomino horse, encased in brass.

Because it was 1940, Ed had 40 silver dollars imbedded in a circle around the horse head. He carefully watched so that every other silver dollar would be alternated heads and tails one head, one tail; one head, one tail. Why heads and tails? The reason was never clear. Many of the dollars were 1940 issue. Others were much older. "One was from 1897," says Dawn Baumgartner, daughter of Ed.

Few things can forever last. The Baumgartner family closed the club and dance hall after the last cocktail was served on Dec. 19, 1976. The family, a sentimental bunch, left the old building standing until 11 years ago when it was razed. But what of the silver dollars? If they were built into the floor, would they not have plunged to the basement when the building was wrecked.

"Not so fast," says Dawn.

Those 1940 dollars are really rare coins - so rare that none were even struck. But don't quibble details in a popular press article. Read the complete article to learn the fate of the remaining 37 coins. -Editor

To read the complete article, see: Lost-and-found tale of 40 silver dollars (qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/bill-wundram
/article_d8de6bca-9f8b-11e0-9be6-001cc4c002e0.html)

Wayne Homren, Editor

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