The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 25, Number 9, February 27, 2022, Article 17


Engraved Draped Bust Half Dollar
Dave Lange writes:

Engraved 50c - Fred Rauch Invented Los Angeles "This photo shows an engraved Draped Bust Half Dollar from my collection that compliments the similar silver dollar illustrated in The E-Sylum. This coin came to me with a blob of solder at the center of its reverse, indicating that it had been mounted as a pin or something similar. I sent it to Allen Stockton to have the solder removed (he advertises in The Numismatist), and he did a nice job with it.

In the 1980s I attempted to determine who Fred Rauch was and what he invented, but I could find no patent under that name. Of course, this was before the internet, and I had to go in person to an institutional library that had gigantic patent ledgers nicely bound in leather. Recently I spent some time on attempting to isolate which of the many Angelenos named Fred Rauch was the one commemorated on my coin, but this was similarly unsuccessful."

Interesting. I reached out to a couple E-Sylum regulars for help. -Editor

Steve Bishop writes:

"I had no luck. I looked for patents issued in 1833 and 1883, as I think the engraved date could be either one. Personally, I think 1833 is more likely, else the engraver would have used a more contemporary coin. Furthermore, U.S. patents are traditionally issued on only one day a week, Tuesday. Nov. 12, 1833 is a Tuesday; November 12, 1883 is not, and at least one patent was issued on November 13, 1883. The only inventor named Rauch anywhere close was in 1923. I'm sure there were patents issued on that particular date in 1833, but the only comprehensive list I could find for patents issued in 1833 did not include any issued to any inventor named Rauch.

"There was a fire at the Patent Office in 1836 that destroyed many records, and the reconstructed records have gaps. Notably, the list I found has a gap between September 23, 1833 and November 19, 1833. Figures.

"The only Fred Rauch I found from that time period is Frederick Augustus Rauch, Founding President of Marshall College in Pennsylvania."

Julia Casey writes:

"I found Dave Lange's article about his search on the NNP and it appears like he was directed to the same man. It is a fun read!"

"I found a listing that shows Fred. Rauch of Los Angeles was awarded a premium in 1884 by the Sixth District Agricultural Association. The publication is accessible on Google Books within the Appendix to the Journals of the Senate and Assembly of the Twenty-Sixth Session of the Legislature of the State of California, vol. II (1885).

"Rauch is listed as receiving a diploma in the mechanical arts category for his exhibit of Two Whalebone Chairs.

"Perhaps Dave Lange's engraved half dollar is a premium award?

"My first inclination was that a whalebone chair was a sort of bent wood, but when I investigated it, I found that it was a known art during this time to make chairs out of whale bone. They are sought after and valuable today.

Whale Bone chair "Here is an image of a whalebone chair made by the famed California mountain man and chair maker, Seth Kinman (1815-1888). This chair was exhibited at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

"I traced Fred Rauch born c. 1852 in Texas and died May 23, 1935, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Frederick Rauch appeared in the Los Angeles city directories in the 1880s until 1900. From the listings I saw he is shown employed as a Butcher, except in the 1895 directory where he is a Cornice Maker. Rauch posted a classified ad in the 9/27/1908 Minneapolis Star-Tribune for work as a good meat cutter and sausage maker. Apparently, he was a man of varied talents! "

Link to the whalebone chair image:

Link to the listing of Fred Rauch's exhibit:

More on Seth Kinman:

Some mysteries just keep on mystifying. But for those who persevere there are multiple ways to tackle these questions. -Editor

Julia adds:

"I mentioned to Neil Musante that I was working on this piece. He said his first inclination was that "invented" was a humorous way of saying that someone was born on that date, or it was a reference to the on the half dollar. I searched this angle to make a connection but I didn't have any luck.

"The listings for Fred Rauch keep connecting him with a "Horn" family in Texas. I still don't know what exactly happened but I got the impression his mother may have remarried to a man named Horn. The early census records are confusing because there is a Frederic Horn indexed with this family, but the birthdate is a little off. I do know for certain he is connected to this Horn family though because I found an obituary for a woman whose maiden name was Horn and it identifies him (as Fred Rauch) as her brother and she shows on the census records in the same family.

"The 1883 date would have been about the time this Fred Rauch / Frederic Horn moved to Los Angeles. I wonder if "Invented" signifies that the move to LA is when he decided to change his name and start using Fred Rauch."

All interesting options. Thanks, everyone. Original numismatic research is hard, but can be fun and interesting as well. One never quite knows where the path will lead. -Editor

To read Dave's 1993 Calcoin News article, see:

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: FEBRUARY 20, 2022 : Engraved Draped Bust Dollar (

Bell E-Sylum ad 2022-02-27 Joffre Sale

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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