So-Called Dollars


Purpose: To commemorate 75 years of hardrock mining in famous Shoshone County; to emphasize importance of nonferrous mining industry to stimulate prices of lead and zinc.

Organization: Silver Jubilee Committee created locally; directly staged celebration. Financed by sale of "bonds" to local merchants and others; about 33% later refunded. Mining companies donated total $5,000. Added publicity gained from unexpected source, Wallace Silversmiths, Wallingford, CT, who had contacted all 42 "Wallaces" in U.S. in connection with own approaching 125th anniversary. Vast silver production of Wallace, Idaho, offered natural tie-in, with unusual advertising potential. No cash contribution by company but see Comment for extent of participation.

Site, Dates, Attendance: June 11 to 15, 1958; attendance 50,000.

Comment: Coeur d'Alene district, "gimlet hearted," so dubbed by early French trappers unable to trade Shoshone Indians cheap trinkets for land. Gold discovered 1883 but silver and lead proved more abundant; over 1 billion ounces of silver and 8 million tons of lead produced to date. Wyatt Earp was among first men in area, operating saloon named "White Elephant." Labor troubles in mines began 1892, raged 10 years, attracted world-wide attention. Miners blew up trains, mills and finally the governor himself. Among those indicted was "Big Bill" Heywood of later I.W.W. notoriety. William E. Borah's prosecution paved his way to U.S. Senate; Clarence Darrow defended.

This 1958 Celebration received considerable national publicity via radio, newspapers and other media. Events included Art Fair, Fishing Derby, Sourdough (old timers) reunions, Indian ceremonials, Banquet and Ball and usual parades; also conducted tours of famous Sunshine (largest silver mine in U.S.), Bunker Hill, and other mines. Wallace Silversmiths' principal contributions were establishment of elaborate silver display, sponsorship of fashion show and huge cocktail party and donation of silver plaque to city.

Medals: Sponsored and sold by Silver Jubilee Committee; designed by Richard Magnusson; struck by Spokane Stamp Works. Issue limited to 1,900 antiqued Silver-plate and 2,100 Nickel-plate, sold for $1 each.

Photos courtesy of John Dean

Obv. Scene depicting a prospector astride his burrow throwing dollars to the winds; above World's Silver Mining Capital; below burrow Wallace, Idaho
Rev. Silver Jubilee / Commemorating / 75 / Years of Mining / in the / Coeur d'Alenes / 1883-1958

HK-515 Silver-plated, antique finish. 38mm.
HK-516 Nickel-plated.
HK-516a Copper.

HK-513 to HK-514