So-Called Dollars


Purpose: To commemorate 100th anniversary of discovery of Pike's Peak ("sighted" Nov. 15, 1806) by Lt. Zebulon Montgomery Pike during his Southwest Expedition, 1806-07, following Louisiana Purchase.

Organization: Pike Monument Association formed December 1896; planned to erect statue of Pike "of heroic size and in enduring bronze" and "to...forever maintain...monument and historical data." This Celebration 10 years later was staged by Association; financed by public contributions and sale of medals; bronze statue never did materialize. Organization disappeared shortly thereafter.

Site, Dates: Colorado Springs, Colorado; Sept. 23 to 29, 1906.

Comment: Explorations of Lt. Pike (1779-1813) are basic United States history. Steadily promoted in U.S. Army, he was Adjutant and Inspector General when killed in action in War of 1812 during victorious assault on York (now Toronto), Canada, April 27, 1813.

Celebration opened Sunday, city-wide church services emphasizing "high moral character, religious life and patriotic services of Gen. Pike." Weekday program included parades, polo matches, band concerts, golf tournament, rodeo; highlighted by address by U.S. Vice President Chas. W. Fairbanks and unveilings of bronze tablet on Pike's Peak summit and of granite boulder or shaft in Antlers Park, Colorado Springs. Latter bears 4 plaques reciting discovery of Peak, facts of Pike's life and excerpts from his diary.

Medals: Official Medals authorized by 59th Congress; designed by C. E. Barber; struck at Philadelphia Mint. Mint records reveal issue limited to 250 Silver proof, 250 Gold-plate, 4,200 gray-oxidized Silver and 6,250 Bronze; sold through local banks and Chamber of Commerce; Bronze for 50 cents, Silver for $1; 65% of all were looped. Some authorities insist these quantities were ones "ordered," that issue actually was smaller. In any event, of total struck, large portion was delivered by Mint apparently too late for sale; they were stored and forgotten for 49 years.

In 1955 these 4,000 pieces were found in basement of old First National Bank Building during demolition. Historical Society of Pike's Peak Region, Inc. directed their sale to help finance 1956 Celebration (no new or additional medals struck for latter event). Again, most were mounted but loops were "expertly removed to make...acceptable to Collectors" and many do defy detection.

Colorado newspapers of 1906 cautioned public to buy "only the genuine authorized medal" as an imitation had appeared on market. This piece, too, is listed here. (See also "The Southwest Expedition Medal" by C. S. Yowell, The Numismatist, issue Jan. 1956).


Photos courtesy of John Dean

Obv. Male bust, part r.; around Zebulon Montgomery Pike. 1779-1813
Rev. Mountain peak, below Pike's Peak--within center circle; outside, around Southwest Expedition • Commemorative Medal; below • Colorado 1806-1906 •

HK-335 Silver. Proof. 34mm.
HK-336 Silver, gray-oxidized finish.
HK-337 Gold (gold-plate).
HK-338 Bronze.

"IMITATION" ISSUE (per above)

Photos courtesy of Jonathan Brecher

Obv. Bust l.; to l., within scroll 1806; to r., within scroll 1906; above bust, around Zebulon M. Pike Centennial; below bust, around Colorado Springs, Colo.
Rev. Observation tower and buildings on rocky summit; above Pike's Peak / Altitude 14147 Ft.; below rocks Discovered / Nov. 1806 by Genl. Zebulon M. Pike; beaded border. (no beaded border on obv.)

HK-339 Brass. 37mm.

HK-325 to HK-334