So-Called Dollars from the Pacific Coast Expositions 1894-1962
Eric Schena submitted this review of the regular and deluxe editions of the new book So-Called Dollars From the Pacific Coast Expositions by Jeff Shevlin and Bill Hyder.
It was originally published in the TAMS Journal, the official publication of the Token and Medal Society. Thank you! -Editor
by Eric Schena
Within the vast collecting possibilities within so-called dollars lies the medals of the various expositions and fairs that occurred in the later end of the nineteenth and
throughout the twentieth centuries. Of special note are the eight major expositions that took place along the West Coast from California all the way up to Alaska. It is these
western expositions that are the subject of an in-depth examination in the beautiful new book by Jeff Shevlin and Bill Hyder, So-Called Dollars from the Pacific Coast
Expositions 1894-1962. Like their counterparts in the East and Mid-West, the Pacific Coast fairs primarily showcased modern scientific and technological advances, new
inventions, and economic progress, all the while celebrating the richness and bounty of the West. The most prominent off these spectacles were as follows:
• 1894 California Midwinter Exposition
• 1905 Lewis and Clark Exposition
• 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition
• 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition
• 1915-1916 Panama–California Exposition
• 1935-1936 California Pacific International Exposition
• 1939-1940 Golden Gate International Exposition
• 1962 Seattle World's Fair
Like many other fairs, these events were fêted with numerous medals, not only officially sanctioned by the governing bodies but also privately produced unofficial
souvenirs. The so- called dollars of these fairs and expositions have long been popular among collectors especially since publication of the Hibler & Kappen catalog. However,
Shevlin and Hyder take this investigation to the next level with this truly exhaustive and encyclopedic study.
As a relative newcomer to so-called dollars, the attention paid to the history of the events behind the medals is always appreciated, especially with the not nearly as
well-known expositions, such as the 1894 California Midwinter Exposition.
Each exposition has its own chapter with a thorough historical overview as well as the numismatic background. Details on some of the die varieties of several medals are also
provided, along with key identification markers. A personal interest of mine are the officially produced souvenir slugs from the 1915 PPIE. These medals resemble the $50 gold
coins produced by the U.S. Assay Office of Gold, though this is often quite superficial. Seeing a detailed history and examination of these pieces is a welcome sight and helps to
add context to the examples in my personal collection.
The entries for each medal provide an overall history of each medal, obverse and reverse descriptions, the composition, diameters, weights, as well as a rarity scale running
from R1 to R-8. Large and clear photographs of each medal are also provided, along with detailed enlargements for specific varieties where appropriate. The authors helpfully put
not only their catalog numbers in the upper header but also the Hibler-Kappen concordance in the lower margin, an especially useful feature when trying to look up a specific
so-called dollar. This also serves to highlight medals and varieties that are unlisted in the Hibler-Kappen book.
The book is printed in full color throughout on thick paper stock and is profusely illustrated with not only images of the medals themselves but also historical photographs,
postcards, and related ephemera. I have long believed that these additional illustrations, details, and artifacts help to provide a more rounded and complete picture and am always
appreciative when authors include them. Here, Shevlin and Hyder put in just the right amount and serve to accentuate an already excellent presentation.
All in all, Shevlin and Hyder have produced an invaluable work for devotees of so-called dollars, as well as those with even a tangential interest in exposition medals.
Eminently readable and useful, this is a book that will stand the test of time.
The regular edition with a glossy sturdy binding is $59.95. For the bibliophile, a deluxe leather bound edition is also available for $149.95. Limited to 100 copies, this
special version has a brass commemorative medal encased in the cover struck by Daniel Carr using an original die engraved by George Morgan for the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific
Exposition. In addition to the main volume, there is also a pocket-sized price guide and checklist companion book available for $19.95 that will be produced annually and be
expanded each year until all so-called dollars are included.
Shipping is $4.50 per book. Both the regular and deluxe versions of So-Called Dollars from the Pacific Coast Expositions 1894-1962 and the pocket price guide may be
ordered from Jeff Shevlin, 1894 E. William St., Suite 4-240, Carson City, NV 89701, phone: (916) 955-2569 or email: SoCalledGuy@Hotmail.com. For additional information, visit
I haven't seen the deluxe version and the embedded medal struck from an original die is a great idea - something for both the bibliophile and numismatist.
We're living in a better world today - printing technology is light years ahead of the days when the original reference on So-Called dollars by Hibler and Kappen was
published in 1963. This sumptuous work covers only the Pacific Coast expos, yet fills 278 pages to H-K's 156.
The business model of producing a separate annually-updated pricing guide is a sound one. Without prices the book won't quickly go out of date and will remain the go-to
resource for collectors. This was precisely the model in the 1960s - my library includes a separate pricing guide for the H-K book. The steadier annual income from the pricing
guides will support the time-consuming research involved and hopefully allow the authors to work on bringing another book to the market. I wouldn't be surprised if this model
were adopted to someday cover the full gamut of American medals. Each sub-area is deserving of the excellent treatment given by Shevlin and Hyder to the Pacific Coast medals.
Now back to the book at hand. The color coding scheme enabled by cheap color printing is a useful tool - each of the six expos is asssigned a color used for the background of
the photos. It's a good shorthand for grouping an otherwise unwieldy number of items.
Other great features include the die pairing and attribution charts, and the visual guides to medal compositions and finishes. As a bibliophile I appreciate the images of
advertisements and order forms for the Lewis & Clark medals, and as a student of hobby history I'm grateful for the inclusion of Appendix A on So-Called Dollar Fellowship
Thanks to Jeff Shevlin and Bill Hyder for producing a great addition to the literature of American numismatics. -Editor
To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
NEW BOOK: SO-CALLED DOLLARS PACIFIC COAST EXPOS (https://www.coinbooks.org/v21/esylum_v21n44a04.html)
BOOK REVIEW: SO-CALLED DOLLARS PACIFIC COAST EXPOS (https://www.coinbooks.org/v21/esylum_v21n49a05.html)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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