? Which of our coins was known as the ?black sheep? coin?
Today our thoughts would almost automatically go to the Anthony dollar, but the right answer is the Trade dollar. It earned an unsavory reputation because of its status as a coin useful only outside the U.S. The scandals revolving around the forced use and discounted redemption of the pieces by merchants and bankers are well known.
? What were ?blood talers??
These were German talers of Frederick II of Hesse-Kassel, who provided many of the Hessian mercenaries for the British during the Revolutionary war. The Hessian soldiers brought the coins to America, where the public decreed them stained with the blood of patriots.
? Hammered coins I know, but ?hammered dollars??
Hammered coins mostly went out with the introduction of the coin press in the 17th century. Hammered dollars were Spanish 8 reales coins that were defaced with a hammer by the Mexican authorities. They circulated in Texas when it was still under Mexican rule. Two reasons were given for the practice: the hatred for the Spaniards and anything representing them, and to keep the pieces from leaving the country. They passed for about 90 cents in United States money.
? Why were the old silver notes sometimes called ?silver dollars??
They were backed by silver dollars and stored in the Treasury Department vaults. They may have been called silver dollars, but they were actually Silver Certificates.
? I have a ?California Model Dollar,? dated 1849, that I am unable to find listed in any catalog. Can you tell me anything about it?
This is an exception to the rule that applies to most California gold coins. The word ?Dollar? does not indicate that the piece is a genuine coin. Instead, it is a poker chip, or game counter, and incidentally, one of a series of ?models? that ran from the half dollar up to the half eagle. All of them had an eagle and 13 stars on the reverse. These pieces were brass, not gold, and originally came in a brass box that housed the full set.
? What is a Gypsy dollar?
This is one more name for the Maria Theresa taler that one author claims was adopted by the gypsies of Europe as their universal coin. In the early part of this century American gypsies gold plated the big silver coins and sold them as European gold for close to $50 each.