So-Called Dollars


Aaron White, eccentric Connecticut lawyer, believed that the financial strain of the War of the Rebellion would bankrupt the United States and that as a result, all paper money, "green-backs" in particular, would become worthless. He hoarded hard money as insurance against such catastrophe.

When the hoard was examined several years after White's death, it was found to contain 350 gold and 100 silver dollars, 200 silver half dollars, 5,000 2-cent pieces, 60,000 large and 60,000 nickel cents, 250 Colonials, and more than 20,000 foreign coins.

White struck his satirical pieces to show contempt for green-backs, printed to finance the war. Specie or hard money was so scarce when the war commenced that the government had to print money to meet its needs. White remembered the sus-pension of specie payments by U.S. banks and the resultant hard times of 1837 and 1857. Also in his memory was the issue by wildcat banks and private concerns of an avalanche of paper money, value of which fluctuated greatly, and much of which was worthless. He wished to refresh the memories of the people to the curses of paper money.

Photos courtesy of John Dean

Obv. Sow, hanging from hook; to l., Sus; to r., Pendens; above, 1837; below, 1857; legend to l., near edge, Never Keep; to r., A Paper Dollar. Line below 1837 and above 1857.
Rev. Sow, to r., rooting in jar marked $10; above, Sus (sow); below, Toll Ens (rooting); to r., Deux Sous (two sous); to l., Di Oboli (two oboli--small Greek copper coins); legend, near edge, above, in Your Pocket; near lower edge, Till Tomorrow. (Complete motto, from both sides, Never Keep a Paper Dollar in Your Pocket Till Tomorrow.)

HK-829 Copper. 35mm.
HK-830 Brass.
HK-831 White Metal.

HK-822 to HK-828