In 1905, Portland, Oregon hosted the Lewis and Exposition in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the exploration of the Louisiana Puchase by two interpid pioneers, Meriwether Lewis & William Clark. In anticipation of the exposition, Congress authorized in 1904 the striking of up to 250,000 gold dollars to be sold to the public. Not surprisingly, Farran Zerbe had a hand in this legislation, as he did with the gold dollars issued for the 1904 Louisiana Exposition. Unfortunately, sales of the Lewis & Clark gold dollars were disappointing, and the majority of the coins struck were eventually melted. The total number sold of the 1904 Lewis & Clark Gold Dollar is reported at 10,025 coins, a far cry from the 125,000 coins authorized.
This issue is one of the rarest early gold commems, but sufficient numbers exist to satisfy collector demand. Hundreds of them are available in grades ranging from MS62 to MS65. Even MS66 examples are readily available, and only in MS67 does this coin become rare. Quite a few of the 1904 Lewis & Clark Gold Dollars entered circulation, but no more so than any of the other gold commems. Apparently, the prospects of big profits never materialized and many collectors simply spent their coins.