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Silver dollars made expensive chips

I have been told for years that you have to repeat something three times in order for people to remember it.

That seems to go for news that is printed as well.

Every so often Numismatic News will publish a story about hoards because regular readers enjoy them and because there are always new arrivals to our hobby who are not aware of the famous hoards of the past.

One of the great silver dollar hoards was assembled by LaVere Redfield before he died in 1974. It arrived on the numismatic market in the 1970s.

He is characterized as something of a withdrawn recluse. After all, who else puts hundreds of thousands of silver dollars in his basement? (Estimates say there were up to 650,000 silver dollars in the hoard.) Thinking of him this way matches a mental stereotype that we all have.

Our most recent article once again characterized Redfield this way.

This time, I had a response to it.

I received a letter from someone who wishes to take issue with that description.

“That’s not the Redfield I knew,” he writes.

“It’s true that he dressed like an old cowpoke riding herd (crushed Stetson, worn jeans and boots), but that was just his front. In reality reasonably friendly and quite social. And here was his big thing: he loved to gamble, mainly blackjack. I know because I often played at the same table with him.

“Now appreciate this: It was late ’60s, early ’70s, and silver was already well on its way up. The rest of us gambled with Eisenhowers or with chips. But not Redfield: He gambled with real silver dollars as though they were one dollar. Now that would be your capper in your description of him.

“Incidentally, he was one of the two largest landowners in Nevada (the other was Howard Hughes). On his death Redfield willed much of his huge landholdings to the University of Nevada, Reno, and was thus their greatest benefactor.”

I am sure there will be more articles about Redfield and his silver dollar hoard, and thanks to the letter writer we will have a more interesting description of the man behind the coins from the hoard.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2013 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

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