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Quick Introduction to So-Called Dollars

The term "so-called dollar" has been used since the early 1900s to describe a broad range of commemorative medals and souvenir tokens(not coins) that are similar in size to a silver dollar. Most commemorate American historical events of national or local signifigance such as world's fairs, city and state anniversary celebrations, statue dedications, famous American battles, completion of public works projects, and others. They usually measure between 33 and 45 millimeters in diameter, with most collectors sticking to those made prior to the early 1960s or so, partly because that's when the most important book on the subject was written(read below). Military and various award medals are generally not included. Their popularity stems from their historical signifigance, their varied and sometimes attractive designs, their rarity, and their size. Dollar or crown size coins have always been popular with collectors, so the interest in medals and tokens of similar size seems to have been a natural progression.

There are also other groups of medals and tokens that are classified as so-called dollars. One group, with no size limitations, are the "monetary" so called dollars. They were issued during the gold standard/silver controversy that was a divisive political issue during the late 1800s. Another group are the many rare dollar sized medals issued in the early 1900s by the famous coin dealer, Thomas Elder.

The most important book on the subject is Harold E. Hibler and Charles V. Kappen's book of So-Called Dollars("HK" for short). There is an older 1st edition that was published in 1963, and a more recent 2008 updated 2nd edition - Recommended - Best to buy the digital version on Amazon. There was also a smaller booklet, now of only historical interest, published in 1953(reprinted in 1984) by Richard Kenney.

A FEW EXAMPLES OF SO CALLED DOLLARS

HK

This medal is the oldest and first so called dollar listed in "HK". It commemorates the completion of the Erie canal in 1825, and was given to guests and dignitaries at the official opening. 44 millimeters in diameter.

HK

Minted by the US mint in 1875 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the battle of Lexington. 38.5 millimeters in diameter.

HK

This was the official souvenir medal minted for the World Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1893. It is also the most common so called dollar. 38 millimeters in diameter.

HK

A 1945 victory medal issued at the end of World war II commemorating the end of the war. 38 millimeters in diameter.

HK

Issued in 1959 at the 100th anniversary of Oregon Statehood. 34 millimeters in diameter.

HK

A Lesher Dollar. This is a "monetary" so called dollar privately issued in 1900 by Colorado silver miner Joseph Lesher. He was an advocate of the free coinage of silver.

 

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