So-Called Dollars


Purpose: To celebrate 100th anniversary of Statehood.

Organization: Centennial Commission created by 1955 Legislature with $2,600,000 grant; Members appointed by Governor. Commission directly staged "Exposition and International Trade Fair," Portland; elsewhere assisted local committees in presenting multitude of celebrations and commemorative events.

Site, Dates, Attendance: Exposition held at Pacific International Livestock Building and grounds, 65 acres, North Portland, June 10 to Sept. 17, 1959 (symbolically, 100 days); attendance almost 1,500,000. Of numerous other state-wide events, some were special Centennial affairs, others were of annual nature, e.g. famous Pendleton Round-Up, but with added touches for 1959, all attracting "millions of additional visitors."

Participants: At Governor's request, with Congressional Resolution, President Eisenhower on Feb. 14, 1958, called for observance of centennial by American people, invited all states and territories to participate. At exposition, Alaska, Arizona and Washington took major parts with others exhibiting "their products and crafts"; many Federal displays but no Mint Exhibit.

Comment: Centennial year officially opened with "Statehood Banquet," Feb. 14 (exact anniversary), Portland. Exposition opening concurred with that of famous annual Rose Festival's 51st year; claimed to be largest Fair in west since 1939 Golden Gate Exposition. Forestry Building, originally erected for 1905 Lewis and Clark Exposition and "world's largest log cabin," was "centerpiece"--lumbering being state's leading industry and production greatest in United States. During exposition, wagon train traveled old Oregon Train from Independence, Missouri to Independence Oregon, requiring four months for trip. Here, too, was first U.S. showing of multimillion dollar Atomic Energy Exhibit from Brussels Fair.

Medals: There was no "national medal" nor any Official Medal sponsored by Centennial Commission. There was an Official Emblem or Seal which appears on many of following private issues.


In center is scene portraying products and industries of Oregon; to upper l. is small State Seal; below scene is small covered wagon and team proceeding r.; below on ribbon Frontier of the Future / below ribbon Centennial--all within center circle; outside at top, around Oregon * 100th Anniversary; to l. horizontal 1859, to r. horizontal 1959; at bottom Celebration.


Issued by Northwestern Specialty Sales Co., Portland; 175 struck in sterling Silver; sold for $6.50. There were about 24 trial pieces struck in Aluminum; not placed on public sale. In 1960, 24 medals were struck in 18K Gold, sold for $125.

Photos courtesy of John Dean

Obv. Official Centennial Emblem, per above.
Rev. Conjoined male busts l.; around 15th President--James Buchanan 34th President--Dwight D. Eisenhower; below busts 1859 / 1959

HK-553 Silver, antiqued; on edge Sterling. 33mm.
HK-554 Gold.
HK-555 Aluminum.


Designed and issued by A. T. Campbell, Portland; 50 struck in sterling Silver, 5,000 in Gilt Bronze; sold for $12.50 and $1 respectively.

Photos courtesy of Jonathan Brecher

Obv. Official Centennial Emblem, per above.
Rev. In center is a covered wagon proceeding l. into setting sun; above Eugene, Oregon / 1859; below wagon 1959 / Emerald Empire

HK-556 Silver, on edge Sterling. 33mm.
HK-556a Silver-plated.
HK-557 Gilt Bronze.


Designed and issued by Dee Taylor, Independence, OR; 1,000 struck in Silver-plate, 9,000 in Gilt Bronze; sold for $1.

Photos courtesy of John Dean

Obv. Official Centennial Emblem, per above.
Rev. In center is covered wagon train; above From / Independence / Missouri to r. To / Independence / Oregon--all within center circle; outside above, Wagon Train; to l., horizontal 1859; to r., horizontal 1959; outside below Oregon Centennial

HK-558 Silver-plated. 33mm.
HK-559 Gilt Bronze.


Designed and issued by Salem Numismatic Society; 6,000 struck in Silver-plate and 9,000 in Gilt Bronze; sold for 75 cents and 50 cents, respectively. Sponsor did not authorize striking of any sterling Silver pieces but later "heard from other sources that about 25 were struck."

Photos courtesy of John Dean

Obv. Official Centennial Emblem, per above.
Rev. Edifice; above State Capitol; to l., vertical 1859; to r., vertical 1959; below edifice Salem, Oregon

HK-560 Silver, on edge Sterling. 33mm.
HK-561 Silver-plated.
HK-562 Gilt Bronze.


Designed and issued by Richard Smith, Roseburg, OR; 5,000 struck; sold for 50 cents.

Photos courtesy of John Dean

Obv. Official Centennial Emblem, per above.
Rev. In center circle is a covered wagon proceeding l. with outrider; outside, around 1859 Oregon 1959 Wagon Train

HK-563 Gilt Bronze. 33mm.
HK-563a Silver, on reverse, Sterling stamped beneath wagon.
HK-563b Silver-plated.


Struck as trial pieces to interest cities, counties, merchants and others to use reverse for individualized purposes. Issue was comparatively small and most specimens have disappeared.

Photos courtesy of Jonathan Brecher

Obv. Official Centennial Emblem, per above. UNIFACE.

HK-564 Nickel-silver. 33mm.
HK-565 Gilt Bronze.


Designed and issued by Umatilla County Numismatic and Philatelic Association. Obverse depicts famous Bucking Horse, trademark of Pendleton Round-up Association; original drawing 1924 by late Wallace Smith, artist and writer of western scene.

Photos courtesy of John Dean

Obv. In center a cowboy on bucking horse, to lower r. microscopic © 1925 / Pendleton / Round-up / W. Smith; above all, around Pendleton Round-up. Pendleton, Oregon; below all, around Second Week in September
Rev. In center a covered wagon, mountain (Mt. Hood) in background, 33 in star over mountain; below mountain to r. small U C N & P A; above all, around Oregon Statehood; below all 1859--1959

Issue consisted of following, all 38mm:

HK-566Silver, sterling510$8.00
HK-567Silver-plate, antiqued7,0101.00
HK-568Copper, bright1352.00
HK-569Copper, dull or matte finish1352.00
HK-570Goldine*40No public sale
HK-571Copper, anitiqued**25No public sale
HK-572Silver-coated, matte finish***25No public sale

* Some Goldine were attached to prize saddles presented to winning contestants in Rodeo.
** Darker than other two Copper.
*** Lighter in color than antiqued Silver-plated.


Issued by North Clackamas County Chamber of Commerce to defray "expenses of Centennial county"; 20,000 struck; sold for 50 cents. On both obv. and rev., in a center circle, is replica of Beaver $10 gold piece of Oregon Exchange Co. (see same in any complete catalogue of U.S. coins)

Photos courtesy of John Dean

Remainder of obv. Outside circle, around Oregon Centennial; below * 1859--1959 *
Remainder of rev.
Outside circle, at top • A Souvenir from Miraculous •; at bottom North Clackamas County; within this lettering, around An Exact Replica of the Historic "Beaver" Ten Dollar Gold Piece

HK-573 Oreide. 38mm.
HK-573a Silver-plated.

HK-552 to HK-552a