The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 15, Number 19, May 6, 2012, Article 19


A couple weeks ago, I got a note from Dave Hirt, who wrote:

This is a chain e-mail I received. Perhaps it would be interesting to our readers.

The note began:

Who Was Haym Solomon? Read this fascinating history of the $1 bill - all the way to the bottom to know about Haym Solomon.

You may be in for quite a surprise

I didn't have time to look into it, but it had the feel of an urban myth. The message began with a description of a number of the familiar elements of the One Dollar bill and the Great Seal of the United States, and the many instances of the number 13 - some intentionally, some coincidentally - representing the original 13 colonies:

13 signers of the Declaration of Independence ,
13 stripes on our flag,
13 steps on the pyramid,
13 letters in 'Annuit Coeptis',
13 letters in ' E Pluribus Unum,'
13 stars above the eagle,
13 bars on that shield,
13 leaves on the olive branch,
13 fruits, and if you look closely,
13 arrows.

And finally, notice the arrangement of the 13 stars in the right-hand circle. You will see that they are arranged as a Star of David.

I had seen the 13 stars a zillion times, but never saw them as a Star of David. This was news to me. But the email helpfully included a diagram connecting the dots. Hey! Maybe it was a Star of David.

Dollar Star of David

The email went on to say:

This was ordered by George Washington who, when he asked Haym Solomon, a wealthy Philadelphia Jew, what he would like as a personal reward for his services to the Continental Army. Solomon said he wanted nothing for himself, but he would like something for his people. The Star of David was the result. Few people know it was Solomon who saved the Army through his financial contributions ...then died a pauper.

I Googled around and learned that Solomon did indeed exist, but how could anyone prove the assertion that Solomon inspired the arrangement of stars on the Seal? I have a few books on the Great Seal on my shelves, but as much as I love numismatic research, I didn't have the time to review them.

Luckily, one of my favorite web sites came to the rescue this week., a site that examines and busts Internet myths, published an article about this email. They write:

Hayim Solomon (whose name is also rendered as Haym Salomon) was a real person, a Polish-born Jew who immigrated to the American colonies in the 1770s, joined the New York branch of the Sons of Liberty, and performed many services on behalf of the American independence movement, most notably helping to provide funding for the colonial war effort during the American Revolution.

However, the claim that George Washington ordered the Great Seal of the United States to incorporate a Star of David element as a token of thanks to Solomon is apocryphal: Washington had no input into the design of the Great Seal, and the original design specification for the Great Seal included no instructions about how the constellation of 13 stars on the obverse side should be arranged.

The reason why artist Robert Scot chose to arrange that constellation of 13 stars into the shape of a hexagram when engraving the first die of the Great Seal in 1782 (a design feature that has been reproduced in all subsequent dies of the Great Seal) is unknown, but the best guess is that he was emulating the arrangement of stars on the first American flag.

So that's that - an interesting story, but most likely a tall tale.

To read the complete article, see: Who Was Hayim Solomon? (

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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