The following is excerpted from Clifford Mishler’s Coins: Questions & Answers
Q: I have an eight-sided silver piece on the obverse of which is a mining complex identified as “Pikes Peak Silver Mine,” and the legend, IN THE PEOPLE WE TRUST. A COMMODITY WILL GIVE IN EXCHANGE MERCHANDISE AT . . . The reverse carries the legend, JOS. LESHERS REFERENDUM SOUVENIR 1 OZ COIN SILVER PRICE $1.00, and a serial number. For what purpose was this item intended?
A: The piece is a token known as the “Lesher Referendum dollar” because they were to be referred to the people for acceptance or rejection. They were coined by Joseph Lesher in 1900 and 1901 at Victor, Colorado, in four basic varieties dated 1900 and one type dated 1901, each of which contained an ounce of .950 fine silver. It is believed the issue was intended to help open idle silver mines. They were distributed by interested merchants who redeemed them in merchandise at the indicated $1 value. One of the 1900 varieties carries the merchant name A.B. Bumstead die-stamped at the bottom on the obverse, while specimens of the 1901 type exist bearing the counterstamped identities of eight merchants, along with a variety without the name of any merchant counterstamped. All are impressed with serial numbers as well. Few specimens survived government seizure, with all specimens being considered rare and quite valuable.
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