1805: One of the curious' numismatic situations in recent decades involved Alfred J. Ostheimer, 3rd, well-known collector of silver dollars, who contributed an article-to The Numismatist, June 1961, which began with these words:
"The most important chapter in the long and involved history of the 1804 dollars has been written with the announcement that one coin dated 1804 and another dated 1805 have been fully authenticated by M.H. Bolender of San Marino, Cal., the recognized authority on early silver dollars. After careful study, Bolender has pronounced these to be authentic coins struck at the United States Mint by the same manufacturing processes used for the silver dollars coined from 1794 through 1803.
"These two coins were known to Spink & Son, Ltd: Of London, before they reached the late B.G. Johnson of St. Louis early in 1939. In November 1939 they were purchased by the late Farran Zerbe for his private collection. Zerbe was then the curator of the Chase Manhattan Bank's Museum of Moneys of the World. In-March 1941 he sold these two coins to Louis S. Werner of New York."
Ostheimer went on to say that Werner was Well known for his 'expertise in detecting counterfeits, and had made many important contributions to numismatics. In 1960, Werner submitted the 1805 and 1805 dollars to Academy Testing Laboratories, Inc., of New York, and Lucious Pitkin, Inc., of the same city; both of these firms concluded that the pieces were genuine. After due discussion, Mr. and Mrs. AJ. Ostheimer, 3rd bought the pair from Werner, and wrote the aforementioned article for The Numismatist.
A couple of things were missing from this nice story: First, Werner had purchased them as fakes. Second, Zerbe had written an article about these specific phony "1804" and "1805" dollars for The Numismatist, March 1944.
While Mr. Bolender was a very nice old man, and while he had kept records of the appearances of early dollars over a long period of time, and had published a book on the subject in 1950, he 'was not an expert numismatist from a technical viewpoint. Apparently, he had only a rudimentary knowledge of coining procedures, and, for example, thought that clash marks on dies were caused by "suction." The two testing laboratories in question may have been excellent in some other field, but not in numismatics. In any event, at the 1961 American Numismatic Association convention in Atlanta, Eric P. Newman gave a talk on the Ostheimer "1804" and "1805" dollars, and demonstrated that the first was an alteration of 1802 B-4 and the second an alteration of 1803 B-6. Thus, the highly-trumpeted new discoveries were discredited, and soon faded from view. (For details see: "Contemporary 1804, 1805 Silver Dollars Authenticated," by Alfred]. Ostheimer, 3rd, The Numismatist, June 1961; and "Diagnosing the Zerbe 1804 and 1805 Dollars," by Eric P. Newman, The Numismatist, October 1961.)
1819: It is said that an engraved "1819" silver dollar, depicting on the obverse the head of Miss Liberty facing left, with long, flowing tresses, with an engine-turned border design, 13 stars above, and the date 1819 below, is the work of Jacob Perkins, die engraver of Newburyport, Massachusetts. Engraved in silver, the only known specimen is in the collection of the American Numismatic Society. This piece is not of Mint origin and is simply a curiosity. Illustrated in Appendix C of United States Pattern, Experimental and Trial Pieces, by J. Hewitt Judd, M.D.
The Year 1804 in History
The Lewis and Clark expedition, headed by Captain Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to explore the American Northwest, set forth from St. Louis on May 14 and would remain on the trail until returning to its point of origin on September 23, 1806. Its mission was to explore the upper reaches of the land acquired as part of the Louisiana Purchase. Among the gifts taken for presentation to Indians were peace medals, today known as Seasons Medals, featuring designs by John Trumbull, struck in England from dies engraved by Conrad Kuchler.
On July 11, 1804, Alexander Hamilton was killed in a pistol duel with Aaron Burr. The two had been adversaries since Hamilton resisted Burr's effort to become president in 1800. After this incident, Burr became one of the scoundrels of American history. Hamilton, a gentleman, deliberately misfired, while Burr shot with the intent to kill.
On December 5, 1804, Thomas Jefferson was reelected president, and George Clinton, the first governor of New York, was elected vice president. The election was the first with separate ballots for each office.
The country of Haiti was established in the western section of Hispaniola, under a black republican government; all slaves were freed, and whites who did not flee were killed.
The Era 1805-1835 in History
1806: In 1806 the Lewis and Clark Expedition returned from exploring the upper reaches of the Louisiana Purchase.
Noah Webster's Compendious Dictionary of the English Language was published. In Newport, Rhode Island an American city utilized gas street lighting for he first time. On November 15, 1806 Zebulon Pike sighted the Colorado peak that now bears his name during an expedition in the Southwest. He did not climb it, however.
1807-1836 Half dollar coinage: After silver dollars were last coined in 1804 (bearing the dates 1802 and 1803), the mantle of the largest domestic silver coin fell upon the half dollar, and from that point until gold coins became plentiful (after August 1, 1834), half dollars were popular for bank reserves. Those of the Capped Bust type, designed by John Reich, were made in large quantities from 1807 to 1836.
1808: James Madison was elected the fourth president of the United States.
1809: The first humor book to widely circulate in America, History of New York, by "Diedrich Knickerbocker" (Washington Irving), was published.
1810: The third federal census listed the population at 7,239,881. This included 1,211,364 slaves, 186,746 free Negroes, and 60,000 immigrants. On June 23, 1810, John Jacob Astor, a German immigrant who would eventually become the richest man in America, organized the Pacific Fur Company.
1824: Lafayette, the French hero of the American Revolution, returned to the United States to a triumphal welcome and was honored by Congress as "the nation's guest." One cent pieces and other coins were counters tamped with the portraits of Washington and Lafayette in commemoration of the event, but it is not known who stamped them.
1824-1827 Economic conditions: There was a great expansion of private banks and insurance companies in 1824 and 1825. Due to prosperity in England, American exports to Britain climbed sharply. In 1825, prices fell, causing financial problems in the United States. A crisis swept through the banking community, and in New York alone there were 50 failures. The controversial Bank of the United States was beset with problems, had a shortage of specie, and could not redeem its own notes. In 1826 there was a business recession in the United States, but by 1827 conditions improved.
1834: The Act of July 31, 1834 reduced the weight of fine gold in United States coins, so that they were no longer worth more than face value. After August 2, 1834, when the Act was implemented, newly-minted gold coins began to circulate once again.