The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 15, Number 6, February 5, 2012, Article 20


Web site visitor Rick Sage writes:

I read the article on a coin supposedly shot by Annie Oakley. At the end of your comments, you asked "Where did the bullets come down?" Did anyone ever supply an answer? I just watched the PBS special on Annie and had that exact question for all her expositions. Where did the bullets go? I do a lot of hand gun shooting and have used wax bullets before, they can penetrate soda cans at 40 feet, so even if Annie used wax bullets, someone would be in harms way just as with the use of lead bullets.

So - is there any answer to our question?

Also - I live in Cincinnati, close to a site mentioned in local folk lore as the place where Frank Butler challenged Annie to a match, got his clock cleaned and thus started their relationship. Since he lived in Oakley (a part of Cincinnati) that's where Annie got her stage name.

Actually, it was Tom DeLorey who asked the " Where did the bullets come down?" question. I never got an answer to the question, although I never really expected to. I was half hoping to learn if there were any known accidents among the spectators or passers-by. I guess not. At my request, Rick wrote up some more information and provided several images. Thanks! -Editor

Rick Sage writes:

Here are photos of shot coins I found in the woods around the site of "Schuetzenbuckel" - German for Shooter's Hill. It's at the East end of Fairmont Ave in Cincinnati Ohio. Originally the site of a Baptist Seminary, Medical College and Military Academy.

shot coins 1

shot coins 2

Local Oral Historians note this as the site where Frank and Annie had their competition. This was a skeet shooting competition and not a rifle match. So the shot coins I've found cannot be directly attributed to being shot by Frank or Annie. They are all Trade Tokens except for the one I found with the offending projectile still attached. It's a Great Brittan Penny, but I cannot read the date. They are all from the period of 1860-1890 (give or take) so they fit the time frame of the match between Frank & Annie.

Shooter's hill was closed down around 1888 after a fire destroyed the main building. Most of the building remains were pushed over the hill sides and the site is now a city park with soccer and baseball fields. Coins were found on the hill side/woods surrounding the area.

I've done a lot of metal detecting over the years and just recently disposed of the vast majority of my "Finds". Kept these as they were of special interest only to me. Have about 8 or so wheat pennies that have also been shot. These were found at various sites around town. More than likely shot in a standing position and not thrown in the air. Have a large glass battery case that is half full of just bullets that I've recovered over the years. About 30 pounds worth of lead.

shot coins 3 It's my understanding that Annie (and other sharp shooters) could shoot through the hole in a washer thrown in the air. It was "proven" by pasting a postage stamp over the washer and then tossed in the air with the shot going thru the hole and piercing the postage stamp. I've heard of some offered for sale before, but never seen one. The History Channel has a sharp shooter show on every now and then and have replicated some of these shots. I've tried to contact them as to our common question of "Where did the Bullets Go?". I never got a response. In an outdoor setting, all shots could be made in a direction towards a woods, embankment or open field. But there's always room for errors. But how did they do their shots indoors in tents, theaters and halls? lead backdrops? I just don't know.

My wife and I currently are involved with Cowboy Mounted Shooting. We do competition hand gun shooting on horseback. We use 45 single action revolvers and shoot a course of ten balloons. We only get five shots per gun so we also have to change guns while running the course. We use BLANKS. A blank can break a balloon target up to 20 feet away (if you're lucky).

In all of your reenactments and gun fights in Tombstone and other Wild West acts, blanks are used (or just a casing and primer only, no powder). They are still dangerous at close range. I suppose that the Cowboys and Indians in Buffalo Bills Shows used blanks as they shot their way into the arenas. Otherwise there would be a lot of holes in those tents and a lot of dead spectators as well.

To read the earlier E-SYlum article, see: MORE ON THE ANNIE OAKLEY COIN (

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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