Lewis and Clark Exposition, So-Called Dollars

This page lists the so-called dollars issued for the 1905 Lewis and Clark Exposition held in Portland, Oregon. Hibler and Kappen wrote a book entitled "So-Called Dollars" that lists many (but not all) of these pieces, and Terry Trantow wrote an article in the TAMS journal that also attempts to list these pieces.

Trantow numbers 1a, 1b and 1c are different metal versions of the same token, and match H&K numbers 327, 325 and 326 respectively. H&K calls 1b/325, silver, Trantow calls it silver plate. Trantow calls 1c/326, gilt bronze and H&K calls it gold-plated. This piece is easy to find, but usually with a very weak strike. The silver piece can be expensive.

Here is the obverse die of these tokens:



And here is the reverse die of these tokens:



At the end of the Trantow article, we reach the discussion of the most confusing issue of the fair, the U.S. Government Building tokens. These come in three sizes, many metals (and finishes) and a few die varieties. My focus is on the die varieties. Here is a picture of the various obverse dies you might see:



In the top row, we have the three larger pieces. They are the same diameter as a silver dollar or Eisenhower dollar coin. The first piece is found in bronze, and is the obverse used on H&K 332, Trantow 4b, and also used on some examples of H&K 334, the piece with the Washington State building on the reverse. This obverse die cracked and broke. The middle top piece is mostly found in gilt bronze, and is H&K 332-a, Trantow 4c. Note that it says Lewis & Clark on the front, with an ampersand instead of the word "the" between Lewis and Clark. The middle piece is also rarely found on some examples of the Washington State building H&K 334. Finally the top right piece is apparently found only on the Washington State building piece, H&K 334, and is the most common variety of H&K 334. Note that it also has an ampersand on the obverse, but the ampersand is much closer to Clark than to Lewis. All the large pieces have a reeded edge. It is an open ended question as to whether the first die was ever used to make gilt pieces (H&K 332-a) or if either the second or third dies were ever used to make regular pieces (H&K 332).

The two pieces in the center row are the intermediate size pieces, and come in a large variety of metals and finishes. As far as I know, there is only the one die variety. These middle sized pieces include H&K 331 (bronze) and 331-a (gilt bronze), and Trantow numbers 3a (aluminum), 3b (gilt bronze, two loops for hanging), 3c (bronze), 3d (gilt bronze). All have a reeded edge, except the piece with the loops for hanging.

The bottom row pieces are the smallest size. They always have a smooth edge, and include one variety with the date and one without. Otherwise they have no die varieties. They do come in a large variety of metals and finishes, and include H&K 328, 329, 330, 333 and 333-a, and Trantow numbers 2a, 2b, 2c, 2d, 2e, 2f, 2g, 2h and 2i.

Here are the reverses of those same seven tokens:



Let's examine the smaller pieces in more detail. These are fairly easy to find, but difficult to find in great condition. The silvery small pieces are common. All of the small pieces have a smooth edge, and only one die has been used for their reverse. Only two versions of the obverse die exist, and that is dated and undated.

Trantow 2a (H&K 329)(bronze), 2b (H&K 330)(gilt bronze), 2c (Trantow lists copper but notes that he has not seen the piece, and neither have I!) and 2d (H&K 328)(silver or silver plate) are the smallest sized pieces, and all carry the 1905 date.

Trantow 2e (silver), 2f (again Trantow lists copper, a piece he and I have not seen), 2g (plated copper), 2h (H&K 333)(bronze) and 2i (H&K 333-a)(gilt bronze) are the smallest size pieces and do not have a date. These are the only pieces that are undated - there are no medium or large sized pieces without dates. Surprisingly, H&K does not have a listing for the silvered, dateless piece, even though it is easy to find.

The medium sized pieces include Trantow numbers 3a, 3c, and 3d (and H&K 331 and 331-a, with no mention in H&K of the aluminum piece). The Trantow 3b is the hanging piece. It IS from the same dies as the other pieces, but it has a smooth edge and two loops that are used to hang it from a 'Souvenir' pin (as shown in Trantow's article). These medium pieces all have reeded edges (except for the looped piece). The medium pieces all share the same obverse and reverse dies. I have two aluminum pieces (which are quite rare) and several of the other metals. The medium sized piece is the easiest to find in really stunning shape - the gilt pieces are quite well made. Except for the aluminum piece, the medium pieces are very easy to find.

The large pieces (H&K 332 and 332-a; and also H&K 334) are all reeded, but there are die variety and die state issues with these pieces. The large pieces are difficult to find in high grades.

All three obverse and one reverse die are used on the Washington State Building pieces (H&K 334). The obverse die with low grade workmanship and uncentered ampersand which reads "LEWIS & CLARK" on the front, (ampersand instead of the word and) is the more common variety. The variety with the cracking obverse die "LEWIS AND CLARK" as found on H&K 332 is rare, as is the variety with the more centered ampersand "LEWIS & CLARK".

The large size plain bronze piece with the U.S. Government Building reverse (H&K 332, Trantow 4b), usually is found with a die crack. In early stages it starts on the right side of the reverse and later spreads into a circle around the reverse and to the right side of the date on the obverse. I have four examples of this piece, and will show them here to illustrate the different states of the die crack.

Here are their obverses (H&K 332, Trantow 4b):



The piece in the upper right corner shows the least die cracking, while the lower left piece has extensive die cracking:



The large size gilt bronze piece (H&K 332-a, Trantow 4c) is found apparently only with one set of dies, (shown top center above), with the well centered obverse ampersand '&' instead of the word AND when they say "LEWIS & CLARK".

A spectacular, nearly perfect, brockage "error" example of H&K 332-a is known to exist. One side of the piece has a normal U.S. Government Building reverse, and the other side has a mirror image, perfectly centered, U.S. Government Building brockage. The piece is in pristine condition and leads me to speculate that it could be an "error" that Farran Zerbe had made to order, when he oversaw the production and marketing of these pieces. A picture of this piece sometimes is found at: WorldErrors.com

Trantow identified his number 4a as being made of brass. The entire issue of metal content is a minefield. Trantow claims to have never seen a plain bronze piece, and only listed his bronze 4b since H&K had said that H&K 332 was bronze. It seems likely there is only one metal used. H&K described it as bronze, and Trantow described it as brass, and in reality 4a and 4b are the same thing (H&K 332).

Go to the first page of the Lewis and Clark Expo collection.
mrjohngilbert@earthlink.net