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Well worn Copper's Blog

26 Aug 2021

Sitting with the dead: Remembering Meriwether Lewis & his coinage

| Well worn Copper

I've lived in Tennessee for about 30 years now and today finally took a little road trip and visited the gravesite (and death site) of Meriwether Lewis, of Lewis & Clark fame. Lewis and Clark were probably the last great American explorers, and I rate them up there with Columbus, although their expedition was much more peace bearing. The events of Lewis's death are tragic. Jefferson had appointed Lewis governor of the Louisiana territory but Lewis had difficulty getting his pay and grew despondent. In 1809 he set out for Washington D.C. and stopped at a middle Tennessee farmhouse for the night. During the night Lewis shot and killed himself with his own gun. Locals buried him where he fell, and in 1848 the Tennessee legislature funded a large stone monument for his grave. The state also named the county after him. Lewis's grave is set in a quiet wooded area and when I visited it no one else was around. I stayed for about 30 minutes. As a history buff, it's always something special to visit the grave of the historically (and numismatically) noteworthy and quietly "share their company" for awhile. I wondered what he would think if he knew he had been honored on a gold dollar, a silver dollar, a statehood (Missouri) quarter, and was the subject of four nickels, not to mention numerous appearances on currency and medals. Someone had left a bottle of whiskey (for him I suppose) and a sealed letter addressed to "Captain Lewis". I thought that was kind of classy. I then went back to my car and fished a Westward Journey nickel out of the console, and left it on the stone rail, hoping to start a new tradition. Rest easy, Captain Lewis.

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02 Aug 2021

Fantasy Coinage

| Well worn Copper

I occasionally like to take a left turn and go down untraveled roads, always hoping to be surprised. One area of collecting that is always different involves fantasy coins. While wandering around the internet I discovered a small private family-run mint in Arkansas called Shire Post Mint. They engrave their own dies and strike their own coin and medals. What's interesting is they strike them on vintage coin presses, and even have a couple of old screw presses around. From the looks of it, I'd like to work there for a week or two. They have their hand in quite a few things, such as fantasy coins, medals, keychains and jewelry. Their fantasy coinage looked interesting and I picked up a set of fantasy Nouvelle-France (New France) pieces. The back story being if King Louis XIV did more with the Louisiana territory, that this is what his coinage could have possibly looked like. What makes them cool is they're struck one at a time using hand engraved dies, so they even look from the period. I have a few fantasy pieces from Daniel Carr's Moonlight Mint as well. Fantasy coinage is fun and interesting, but I strictly keep to copper pieces. Silver and gold pieces can get pricey, and there's no real aftermarket here. As I said before, this is just a fun diversion, but not an investment. Enjoy.

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