Lesher Referendum Medals, Zerbe Varieties 1 -6


   Lesher Referendum Medals ~ Zerbe Varieties 7 to 12

   Lesher Referendum Medals ~ Zerbe Varieties 13 to 18



Zerbe 1


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Zerbe No. 1

First Type, 1900.
Obverse: JOS LESHER REFERENDUM SOUVENIR. in the upper hemicircle; below, ONE OZ of coin / Silver / Price 1.25 / M.F.G.D. VICTOR / COLO. / 1900
Reverse: A COMMODITY / Will Give / in / EXCHANGE / Curency (sic) Coin / OR / MERCHANDISE / AT FACE VALUE / No.


When Farran Zerbe interviewed Mr. Lesher in 1914, Lesher was 74 years old and said he did not know how many pieces were struck, but he believed it to be between 3,000 and 3,500 medals. Lesher, however, did not correlate the numbering system between types and varieties.

All known writers on Lesher medals have believed that 100 pieces of this first type were struck, and all numbers were hand engraved on the medals. After a detailed, six year search, the following pieces are known numismatically. While some medals are not located in a named collector's hands today, it is considered that since they were traded numismatically, as identified below, then they are surely still in collections today. Perhaps this article will help identify new locations of the Lesher medals. All pieces listed as being in the possession of Madison Coin Box were stolen in June of 1977, and those listed in private collections have owners who prefer to remain anonymous.


Zerbe No. 1 Table


Zerbe 2

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Zerbe No. 2 Second Type 

Bumstead - First Reverse.

Obverse: A typical mountain mining scene in the upper half of the field; inscription at the top, PIKES PEAK / SILVER MINE; below, A COMMODITY / WILL GIVE / IN EXCHANGE / MERCHANDISE / A.B. BUMSTEAD / No.

Reverse: Legend around top, JOS. LESHER REFERENDUM SOUVENIR; in center of upper half is the device from the seal of the State of Colorado, with motto NIL SINE NUMME (Nothing without God) separating 1.OZ. and COIN; below, SILVER / PRICE 1.25 / M'F'D. VICTOR / COLO. / 1900. Scrolls are in the field left and right of the Colorado State seal.


While the article of November 14, 1900 stated there would be 500 pieces struck as a second edition, and Farran Zerbe in his published article stated that 600 medals of this second type were made, it is highly unlikely that more than 210 were actually struck13. This conclusion is reached based on the following known numbers.


Zerbe No. 2 Second Type Table


Not only was Mr. Bumstead the first merchant to use Mr. Lesher's scheme, but the success was emphasized with a second order from Bumstead. Again "A.B. Bumstead" appeared on this new issue; however, a new type was created.



Zerbe 3

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 Zerbe No. 3 Bumstead Type, Second Reverse

 The mining scene and wording is the same as Zerbe No. 2

 however, the reverse is without scrolls in the field on both sides of the Colorado seal, and no line about the word "COLO."


Zerbe stated in an article that, "...It is presumed that 1000 were struck..."15 of this Bumstead Type II, and numbers are listed below from 600 to 1741. It is noted that only 7 pieces are known above number 1000. Therefore, it is this writer's contention that there were not more than 500 Zerbe No. 3 medals struck, again based on the following known numbers.


Zerbe No. 3 Bumstead Type Table


During Farran Zerbe's interview with Mr. Lesher in 1914, Zerbe reported that Lesher said, "Not many days elapsed after the production of the first Leshers before their producer had a call from Government officers. He now tells amusedly that on his compliance with their request to see the dies, they pulled out a little sack into which they put the dies and walked away, and I never saw the dies again."16 This action was taken because the officers claimed the medals were used as though they were coins, thus contrary to U.S. law. However, nothing can be found in the many newspaper articles on Lesher's new project with reference to confiscated dies, and such news would have been "hot" and very printable. Dr. Whiteley, in his article17 suggests that Lesher was in trouble with the government after he minted his Bank Type. 



Zerbe 4

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Zerbe No. 4 Bank Type

Obverse: Upper half same as Zerbe 3; inscription in lower half, A COMMODY / WILL GIVE MERCHANDISE OR CASH / AT ANY BANK / No.; at the bottom, in a curved line, AT BULLION VALUE.

Reverse: same as Zerbe No. 3.


This writer also believes that it was now that Lesher was in trouble with the U.S. Government. In stating on the medal that they would be redeemed at any bank in merchandise (what type of merchandise from any bank was not known) or cash, Lesher was competing with legal tender and it was probably on this basis that Government officers confiscated the Bank Type dies.

Lesher told Zerbe that only 5 Bank Type medals were struck, and Whiteley listed 6 pieces.18 Listed here are 9 Bank Type medals known to this author.

Zerbe No. 4 Bank Type Table


Remaining with pieces dated 1900, is one now listed of which Zerbe was not aware. This medal has been given a Zerbe number - No. 17 - by this writer, for purposes of conformity. Dr. Whiteley introduced this new type19 giving its name "Trade Mark Applied For."



Zerbe 5


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Zerbe No. 5 Imprint Type

Obverse: Mining scene with a few minor changes from Zerbe No. 2 (an example is the ears of the donkey, lower left corner of the scene). Below, IN THE PEOPLE WE TRUST / A COMMODITY / WILL GIVE / IN EXCHANGE / MERCHANDISE AT / No. A space was provided just above "No." for a business imprint.

Reverse: JOS LESHERS REFERENDUM SILVER SOUVENIR MEDAL, in legend at top; seal of State of Colorado, as on Zerbe No. 2, dividing PRICE and $1, with U.S. PATENT on left, and No. 62,695 on the right. Below, TRADE MARK REG. U.S. PAT. OFF. / No. 36,192 Apr. 9, 1901./DESIGN PAT. APR. 16, 1901/M'F'D'/VICTOR COLO./ 1901.


All imprints were die struck with numbers to be added. They are known both with and without numbers. Those known by this writer are listed.

Zerbe No. 5 Imprint Type Table


After Lesher's trouble with the government, he changed the wording, adding "SILVER" and "MEDAL" to the dies dated 1901.

Lesher admitted to Zerbe that he did not keep good records, and he did not know how many pieces of each type and variety were made. It is believed that 1050 pieces of this Imprint Type were struck for stock, on which a merchant's name could be added. Assuming this 1050 quantity true, each time we add a variety we reduce the remaining stock of Imprints. The eleven varieties follow.



Zerbe 6

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Zerbe No. 6 Variety

Same as Zerbe No. 5,

except stamped into the obverse field, J.M. SLUSHER / CRIPPLE CREEK, COLO.

The pieces were serially numbered.


Mr. Slusher was a grocer, 165 Bennett Ave., in the mining town of Cripple Creek, Colo. An analysis of the numbers listed below, concludes that 260 Imprints were stamped SLUSHER.

Zerbe No. 6 Variety Table


Keeping a running count on the Imprints, the removal from stock of 260 to be stamped SLUSHER, leaves 790 Imprints.



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