The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 22, Number 3, January 20, 2019, Article 14


How Spencer Clark Got His Portrait on Money

Spencer Clark 5 cent franctional note

Benny Bolin writes:

Anyone who knows me well knows I have to take exception to the article on the five-cent third issue fractional currency that had Spencer Clark's portrait on it. I have done extensive research and the document referred to where Congress asked to have William Clark on the note has never been seen nor is that action referenced in any of the published notes of Congress, i.e. Federal Register, etc.

Also, why would Congress honor William Clark and not Meriwether Lewis who was the actual leader of the expedition chosen by President Jefferson to lead it, or at least honor them together as was done with the third issue 15c note honoring Grant and Sherman on the same note?

The evidence uncovered showed it was decided that Hugh McCulloch was to be on the 50c note and Spinner on the 5c which actually makes sense as McCulloch was the sitting Secretary of the Treasury and Spinner was Treasurer and Fessenden, past Secretary was put on a note lower in value than the sitting Secretary and higher than the sitting Treasurer.

It seems then that the portrait of McCulloch was lost or rendered unusable and he refused to sit for another. So Spencer Clark (yes he had a big ego and was probably playing around with his face on many notes) went to Spinner and asked "whose face should we put on the 5c? The boys have one with my face on it." I can see Spinner busy at his desk and not wanting to be bothered by such mundane issues just nodding and waving him off and voilà! His face on the note.

If the referred-to document or other reference to the contrary is found I will readjust my thinking and stance.

Thanks. Good stories are hard to tamp down - they grow legs and keep walking. -Editor

To read earlier E-Sylum article, see:

LOOSE CHANGE: JANUARY 6, 2019 : The Infamous Spencer M. Clark Portrait (

Table Made With Coins
Tony Terranova writes:

Some use of worn out coins. Or the things that pop up at antique shows!!!!!

Table with coins Table with coins top

Table with coins closeup

Interesting. Thanks. You'd think they could've picked some nicer coins! -Editor

1854 Wilkins Exchange Broadside

Remembering that I hail from Pittsburgh, Dave Lange forwarded this eBay item - a pre-Civil War broadside from an exchange house dealing in bank notes and coins. -Editor

WIlkins Exchange broadside

WIlkins Exchange broadside Pa: Pittsburgh 1854 #9 Wilkins Coin, Banknotes Dealer Printed Circular Cover

This was a financial firm buying and selling banknotes and coins based on their monetary value. What numismatic rarities may have passed through their hands? -Editor

To read the complete lot description, see:

Pa: Pittsburgh 1854 #9 Wilkins Coin, Banknotes Dealer Printed Circular Cover (

Cash No Good At Coin Show
Bob Kebler writes:

In continued follow-up to our increasingly cashless society: I am a member of the Early American Copper Society, I made a reservation this week to our yearly convention that will be held this spring in Dayton, Ohio. On the reservation page of the Dayton Crowne Plaza, you guessed it-

"Welcome to Crowne Plaza Dayton

"We do not accept cash as a form of payment. We apologize for any inconvenience that this may cause you.

"Crowne Plaza Dayton - Dayton Hotel"

Apparently we can't get away from this new trend, even at a numismatic convention.

Nope. I have paid by app at one of my regular retail haunts and of course use credit and debit cards nearly everywhere, but I do use cash for most small purchases and when I'm on the road and more wary of who'll get hold of my card numbers. But paying cash (especially with exact change) is less and less the norm. Counting out nickels and cents I must look like a grizzled old prospector who wandered in from the wilderness trying to pay with pinches of gold dust. -Editor

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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