ABOUT SO-CALLED DOLLARS

So-Called Dollars are medals approximately the size of a silver dollar that were struck to commemorate a U.S. historical event. Struck since the early 1800's they fall into two categories, those associated with a major fair or exposition such as the 1892-1893 Columbia Exposition and those associated with an event in U.S. history such as the completion of the Erie Canal in 1826. In addition dollar-sized medals that are associated with the silver controversies, our national coinage or were actually designed as circulating media are also known as so-called dollars. Pieces were struck by the U.S. Mint as well as by private diesinkers. The following types of medals are not so-called dollars: military medals, religious medals, award medals, fraternal medals or advertising store card medals.

The history of collecting medals:

HK308 Obverse

The term So-Called Dollar is credited to New York coin dealer Thomas Elder who used the term in one of his 1912 auction catalogs for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition silver President Roosevelt dollar HK 308. Richard D. Kenney authored an article on So-Called Dollars published in the July-August, 1953 edition of the Coin Collector's Journal. In 1963 Harold E. Hibler and Charles V. Kappen published a book titled So-Called Dollars. A second edition of the Hibler & Kappen book was reprinted in 2008. That book today serves as the standard reference for So-Called Dollars. Numismatist Jeff Shevlin is currently researching and preparing to publish a new book on So-Called Dollars. Hundreds of collectors are collaborating with Jeff in that effort.

Early advanced U.S. collectors focused on rare medals and rare federal coinage. In the early 1900's collectors focus changed to collecting U.S. coins by date and mint mark. Today many advanced numismatists are rediscovering the history and allure associated with rare medals. Their rarity and relatively low cost make them appealing today to knowledgeable collectors.