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Robbing the Denver Mint a key part of TV Western plot

Having watched a lot of TV Westerns as a kid, I’m partial to them. One of my favorites was “Maverick,” starring James Garner as Bret Maverick, a loveable gambler whose exploits, along with his brother Bart, played by Jack Kelly, were enjoyable. In later seasons Roger Moore appeared as cousin Beau Maverick and for two episodes Robert Colbert joined the cast as a third Maverick brother, Brent.

 James Garner as Bret Maverick (left) and Jack Kelly (right) as his brother Bart. (Image by Warner Brothers Television (eBay item photo front photo back) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

James Garner as Bret Maverick (left) and Jack Kelly (right) as his brother Bart. (Image by Warner Brothers Television (eBay item photo front photo back) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

The series ran for five years, from 1957-1961. Garner left the show after the third season. Along the way, there were a number guest stars who were or would become famous, including Clint Eastwood, Adam West, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Joel Grey, Robert Redford, John Carradine, Buddy Ebsen, and Connie Stevens.

For several years, I’ve been hoping for reruns of “Maverick” to be shown. We generally get “Gunsmoke,” “Bonanza” and “The Rifleman,” but “Maverick” had been missing. Recently, however, I found it showing on Saturdays, and have enjoyed several episodes over the past few weeks.

It’s no secret that when those unfamiliar with our hobby, and this includes television show script writers, cover areas that relate to coin collecting, they regularly get things wrong. One of the episodes of “Maverick” I watched was a case in point but enjoyable nonetheless.

Titled “Full House,” it was from the show’s third season, copyrighted to 1959. Bret Maverick sets out from Denver after taking a stick pin in payment from a gambler who lost to him playing poker. The stick pin turns out to be the trademark item worn by Foxy Smith, known to criminals as “the brain.” When Bret shows up in Bubbly Springs, Colo. (“Where Troubles are Bubbles and Float Away,” according to the sign at reception in the Palace Hotel) he is mistaken for Foxy and forced to come up with a plan for a robbery, as a parade of the Old West’s top outlaws, one by one, show Bret (Foxy) their wanted posters. Among them are Cole Younger, Sam Bass, Billy the Kid (Billy, played by Joel Grey, is only worth $1,000 on his wanted poster because he was just starting out), Black Bart, Jesse and Frank James, Clay Allison, Ben Thompson, Jim Dalton (and possibly another Dalton), and Belle Starr.

Their wanted posters add up to a reward of $73,000 and Bret gets the idea that he can play bounty hunter, but first he, as Foxy, has to pitch a plan to them. He suggests they take out the Denver Mint, which he tells them is a private mint.

“There are 10 men in key positions,” at the mint, he relates. “Now the idea is to get inside and to replace each one of these men with one of us. Once inside you will all go to your target. Once the key men are replaced, we load the gold and make our get away.”

Later on in this episode you see the bad guys loading gold bars and bags into a wagon marked “Denver Mint.” The boxes also say the same.

Besides the probable historical impossibility of all these outlaws being in the same place at the same time, the Denver Mint didn’t open until the early 1900s. Jesse James, for one, was killed in 1882.

Happy collecting.

This article was originally printed in Coins Magazine. >> Subscribe today.

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