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So-Called Dollars

So-Called Dollars

Key Features

  • 1893 World Columbian Exposition Issue
  • Commemorative medal (not a coin)
  • Similar in size to a silver dollar
  • Obverse displays U.S. government building
  • Reverse features various inscriptions

Diverse in design and theme, So-Called Dollars are a collection of historical medals that are approximately the size of a Silver Dollar.

So-Called Dollars were made to celebrate important figures, places, and events, such as the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition held in Chicago. Interestingly, these coins are actually medals but have been given the dollar label because they are of similar size to the Silver Dollar’s 38.1mm diameter. Many So-Called Dollars were struck in America and feature images created by some of the United States Mint’s most famous coin engravers including George T. Morgan, William Barber and Augustus Saint-Gaudens.

A large number of these medals, now regarded as dollars, connect us to American history and were made to remind us of important moments in time. So-Called Dollars are also diverse in design, from celebrating fairs and saluting military battles to honoring achievements.

The term “So-Called Dollar” is said to come from Thomas Elder, a New York coin dealer who used the phrase to describe a medal that was sold at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.

Collecting So-Called Dollars

Dating back to the 1800s, most So-Called Dollars have a relatively small mintage and are very popular among collectors not only in America but also further afield. These medals became even more popular when Harold E. Hibler and Charles V. Kappen wrote a book about them in 1963, enticing numismatists to discover the history associated with So-Called Dollars.

While the publication is a valuable source for collectors, we now know that many other specimens qualify for the So-Called Dollar status but are not listed in the book. To be fair, it would be impossible to write about them all because experts believe there could be up to 10,000 other medals that meet certain criteria set by Hibler and Kappen. Obviously, it would be unfair to expect anyone to devote the amount of time required to catalog thousands of medals.

Although many collectors are aware of this, they tend to stick to collecting So-Called Dollars that are listed in the book, as well as medals mentioned in later publications by other authors.

1963 So-Called Dollars Publication

Written by Harold E. Hibler and Charles V. Kappen, So-Called Dollars is a book that was published in 1963. This book remains the most comprehensive study of the dollar-sized medals. In order for a medal to be included in the volume, it had to meet the criteria set by Hibler and Kappen. For example, the medals had to measure between 33 and 45mm and minted in or specifically for the United States.

The So-Called Dollar book catalogs nearly one thousand individual medals. It inspired coin hobbyists everywhere to collect specific medals or the entire series, causing these numismatics items to grow in popularity. Many years after the 1963 book was published, the need for an updated reference was realized. In 2008, Tom Hoffman, Dave Hayes, Johnathan Brecher, and John Dean wrote the second edition in conjunction with the publisher of the original So-Called Dollar book.

Buy So-Called Dollars at Capital Gold Group

So-Called Dollars are considered must-have items and are among the most collected of all U.S. medals. Most collectors prefer to purchase Silver So-Called Dollars; however, these medals were also minted in various other compositions and alloys, such as gold, bronze, copper, and nickel. Whether your goal is to purchase only Silver So-Called Dollars or a set containing various metals, Capital Gold Group can help you acquire any piece identified by Hibler and Kappen in their book.

Some So-Called Dollars are rarer and more desirable than others, like those from the 1800s. The more decorative pieces displaying beautiful works of art are also highly sought after. Particularly popular subjects include the World’s Fairs and Expositions and the Lesher Referendum Dollars. Unusually, some So-Called Dollars in very limited mintages sell for less than the more common types, so it’s hard to talk about values at this time.

If you would like more information about So-Called Dollars or want to discuss how we can help you get your hands on these dollar-sized medals, please feel free to reach out to Capital Gold Group.

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