Yoachum Silver Dollar - A case for Authenticity

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by James F. Morris, Apr 28, 2008.

  1. James F. Morris

    James F. Morris New Member

    Logic dictates that more is needed to dispell the critics that pursue the myths which surround the Yoachum Silver Dollar, many will have to judge for themselves and look at the facts.

    Dear Mr. DeLorey,

    Thank You for your post of 4/20/08, your comments and interest in the Yoachum Silver Dollar of 1822. It appears somewhat remarkable that our interest regarding the YSD have paralleled for many years. I believe we both seek the truth. Your esteemed opinion and that of the ANA are greatly appreciated for the fine work that you do.

    However, your post does raise a few questions which I hope you will help me clarify.

    I am looking at the Hartzog bid sheet of 1984.(I will be pleased to send you a copy of the attachment if you will forward a site that will handle the document) The Specimen on the upper left is the Yoachum Silver Dollar. Listed under description - it describes the YSD, opinion and analysis.

    " Yoachum/(stars)/1822 Rev. United States of America/1/Dollar. All from crudely, hand struck dies, on cast planchet. Returned by ANACS with no opinion, 92.49 silver plus or minus 2% "The low specific gravity of 9.68 would indicate the pieces were struck on cast planchets that probably contain air bubbles. The planchets were then apparently struck between two hand-cut dies with the aid of a hammer". (DeLorey, ANACS, 7 April 1983 letter to Gary Wakefield). I was wondering if you could verify that information to be accurate, and is the photo of the specimen, the one in which you examined?

    Listed under the History of the Specimen; it states "Consigned by the son of a man who presents a notarized statement that the piece was given to him by his grandmother around 1922".

    This coin has been in the possession of one William Bradley of Poplar Grove, Illinois since around that period. (I saw a copy of that document in 1986) Mr. Bradley claims the coin was given to him by his grandmother, who had received it several decades earlier from her mother, a Cherokee Indian. The Bradley family founded the the town of Bradleyville, Missouri in the early 1830's. At the time of the letter Mr. Bradley was in his late 70's early 80's, now since passed away. I have no reason to disbelieve his sincerity or the validity of the letter. This would have placed his great-grandmother at the right time and the right place to acquire a YSD.

    It is curious, the only known specimens (9), EIGHT were discovered in Nov. 1982 by Don Webb and Bob Jones in Southwest Missouri, and ONE had been in the Bradley family as a family heirloom since the early 1830's or later, and was located in Northern Illinois. NINE COINS - TWO DIFFERENT LOCATION. This would dispell any myth about the YSD being a modern day fantasy. It would seem to me that "common sense" would dictate the coin specimens "authenticate each other", this vital fact should not be overlooked or downplayed. Pending that the coin impressions match: WHICH THEY DO, and if they match the dies discovered by Mr. Blunk in 1983: WHICH THEY DO!

    Also, I have a letter from from Mr. Michael G. Fahey, ANACS Authenticator, dated May 3, 1988, to Mr. Blunk. (a copy of this letter will also be provided at your request) It was in response to an examination/test he performed on one of the Webb/Jones specimens that I acquired from Don Webb in 1986 and subsequently in the possession of Mr. Blunk. You will notice the analysis numbers at quite a bit different (lower) from the one(s) you tested in 1982/1983.

    " The test you requested for your 1822 "Yoachum" dollar have been completed. The weight of the piece is 28.198 grams, and the specific gravity is 9.95. The specific gravity indicates that the coin is made of approximately 70% silver and 30% alloy, probably copper. However, the coin has a poor "ring", which would not necessarily be accurate. I performed the test twice in order to double-check the accuracy of the figure, and got the same results both times ".

    " The surface of the piece are fairly rough and crude, which would tend to indicate that the circumstances surrounding its issue were primitive. I cannot tell from the microscopic inspection whether the piece was struck or cast. However, the surfaces are more in line with a cast piece rather than a struck piece. If this item is indeed a struck peice, then the dies that were used were cut by hand, and judging from the crudeness of the lettering and the rim design, they were done by someone that was not experienced in this area ".Signed, Michael G. Fahey, ANACS Authenticator.

    Would it be possible for you to correspond with Mr. Fahey and verify if the coin he examined correspond to the specimen (as pictured) which I posted with dies? Were you aware of the test done on the Blunk specimen?

    It should also be duly noted, if you will examine the (Blunk) coin you will notice the LACK OF PITTING, between th "U" and the rim, which can plainly be seen on the dies. Which proves that the coin was minted prior to the rust damage. ANA photographic record will confirm this fact. Further repudiating the claim of it being a 1980's fantasy piece, and advancing the cause for its authentication.

    Now regarding your opinion which you posted on 4/20/08 your concern was with the high content of purity in the silver. And, " It is what you would expect if somebody melted down a few sterling silver spoons or forks. It is impossible from raw ore crudely smelted, by either Indians or conquistadors".

    However there are some vociferous critics less versed in their Missouri History, who are unaware that James Yoachum and his younger brother Soloman both had sons; (Daniel and Jacob Levi Yoachum) who were serious master blacksmiths in the 1820's and not some Ozark backwoods yahoos counterfeiters making knock off fantasy coins and trinkets for a hobby.

    This leads to the all ambiguous question of where did the silver come from? There are many opinions, theories and hypothetical stories which abound. Was is Spanish silver, Indian silver, Ozark silver, Lost Silver Mine silver? Perhaps it was melted down specie and /or partially refined Ozark Silver bullion. Who knows - maybe all of the above. I surmise that every known Yoachum Silver Dollar that survived will probably have different test numbers; coming from different batches, which they most likely do. These variances SHOULD BE EXPECTED, which only further validates the authenticity of the remaining specimens. I think it's a given! In spite of the fact; their quality control was not very good. But, they are what they are. The restrikes in lead are much more impressive having been made under optimal conditions. I think Tom Meringer would even be impressed and appreciate the hard work and artistry that went into the dies.

    In closing, I would welcome your further comments and assistance, or any questions you may have, and look forward to hearing from you. Whatever the outcome; the legacy and mystery of the Yoachum Silver Dollar of 1822 will continue without us. But, we now have the rare opportunity and obligation to give it our own perspective and help to define it for the next generation.

    It's history, and my story is not yet finished.....

    James F. Morris

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