Lesher Referendum Medals, Zerbe Varieties 1 -6
Referendum Medals ~ Zerbe Varieties 7 to 12
Referendum Medals ~ Zerbe Varieties 13 to 18
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
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
Zerbe No. 2 Second
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 No. 3 Bumstead Type, Second
The mining scene and wording is the same as Zerbe No.
however, the reverse is without scrolls in the field on
both sides of the Colorado seal, and no line about the word
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 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 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
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 No. 6 Variety
Same as Zerbe No. 5,
except stamped into the obverse field, J.M. SLUSHER / CRIPPLE
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.
Lesher Referendum Medals ~ Zerbe Varieties 7 to 12)
to Lesher Referendum Medals ~ Zerbe Varieties 13 to
(return to the main Lesher Referendum Article)