The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 20, Number 25, June 18, 2017, Article 3


The long-awaited new book on Lesher Dollars, Forgotten Colorado Silver: Joseph Lesher’s Defiant Coins will be released July 10, 2017. Here's the press release. -Editor

Forgotten Colorado Silver book cover Forgotten Colorado Silver
by Robert D. Leonard Jr., Ken Hallenbeck & Adna G. Wilde Jr.
ISBN: 978-1-4671-3525-2
$21.99 | 128 pp. | paperback

At the turn of the last century, miner Joseph Lesher attempted to raise the price of silver by privately minting octagonal “Referendum souvenir medal” coins with values of $1.25 or $1. They were common in Victor, Cripple Creek, Denver, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Salida, Grand Junction, and other places in Colorado in the days after William Jennings Bryan fought unsuccessfully for free silver. Surviving an initial dust-up with the Secret Service, Lesher found a loophole to place them in circulation in 1900 and 1901. Today, coin collectors pay more than $1,500 for one. This is the story of Joseph Lesher and his audacious private mint, along with the merchants in the mining towns and elsewhere who supported him.

Joseph Lesher’s octagonal silver coins are rare today, with collectors paying over $1,500 each.

The book replaces previous booklets on Lesher Dollars published in the 1950s and 1970s, giving accurate information on the dies used and their disposition, and illustrations of every type.

Included are tantalizing tidbits about lost hoards and treasures of Lesher Dollars.

About the Authors

Lead author ROBERT LEONARD, a Fellow of the American Numismatic Society, New York, has studied private coinages, including Lesher Dollars, since the 1960s. Author of over 100 numismatic articles and lead author of California Pioneer Fractional Gold: Historic Gold Rush Small Change 1852-1857 and Suppressed Jewelers’ Issues 1858-1882 by Walter Breen and Ronald J. Gillio, Second Ed., this is his third book. He examined the pertinent Secret Service records in the National Archives and Farran Zerbe’s papers in the archives of the American Numismatic Society, in addition to verifying and expanding the genealogical research presented here.

A former insurance executive, KEN HALLENBECK moved to Colorado Springs in 1977 to assume the post of curator of the Museum of the American Numismatic Association, leaving in 1983 to found Ken Hallenbeck Coin Gallery Inc. He has held other positions with the ANA, including President, 1989-91 and Acting Executive Director, and is a former Director of the Colorado Springs Pioneer Museum Foundation. He has been studying and dealing in Lesher Dollars since the 1980s.

A graduate of The Citadel, the late ADNA WILDE had a distinguished military career from 1943-1968, serving in Italy, Korea, and Vietnam. He began collecting coins in 1947, held elective office in the American Numismatic Association including President, 1981-83, and was inducted into the ANA Numismatic Hall of Fame in 2002. A long-time student of Lesher Referendum Dollars, his groundbreaking study, “Lesher Referendum Medals: Where are They Today?” (The Numismatist, February 1978, pp. 229-48), received the First Place Heath Literary Award and was essential for the understanding of these issues.

Bob Leonard adds:

It's available for preorder already from and, and publication is less than a month away. I hope readers enjoy this fresh--and exhaustive--look at the Lesher Dollar series. See if you can find all the answers to the attached trivia questions!

Which Lesher Dollar issuer:

  • Is buried in the same cemetery as Mickey Rooney?
  • Spent time in an insane asylum?
  • Worked as a “legal adjuster” for a traveling circus?
  • Has an airport named for his wife?
  • Supervised his jewelry store from an easy chair on a balcony?
  • Ended his life as a poultry farmer?
  • Vanished and was never seen again?
  • Assaulted a co-worker with a paperweight?
  • Was descended from John Alden, who arrived on the Mayflower?
  • Prospected for uranium?
  • Filed to divorce his wife—on grounds of “cruelty and desertion”?
  • Went bankrupt?

I've been a fan of the Lesher Dollars for many years, and I'm looking forward to the book. Love the subtitle: Lesher's Defiant Coins! -Editor

For more information, or to order, see:
Forgotten Colorado Silver: Joseph Lesher’s Defiant Coins (

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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