Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Redfield Coin Hoard-HTEP1

History Tidbits Episode 1-The Redfield Coin Hoard
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The Redfield Hoard is just one of many so called coin hoards throughout the history of coinage; specifically it is a popular U.S. coin hoard. It can rank up there with the Big Sky hoard in which 220,000 Eisenhower Dollars were found after being locked away in a Montana bank vault for 30 years or the Buffalo Nickle hoard which “stampeded” into Littleton after the company bought a hoard of some 300,000 buffalo Nickle’s. Perhaps at a later date I can get into some of those other hoard stories but for now were going to stick with the Redfield hoard and explain why I find it so fascinating.
First off, coin hoards are just one of those topics that are so entertaining. I mean, who doesn’t dream of one day just stumbling across a hoard of old coins or currency? You most definitely do not have to be a historian or coin collect to enjoy these kinds of stories, they are just fun.
So why does the Redfield hoard stick out so much to me? Well, it’s no doubt because of the type of coins that were being hoarded which were Dollar coins, most of them being Morgan Dollars and to a much lesser extent, peace dollars. You may be asking yourself “what is so special about Morgan and Peace dollars?” What makes them special is that each Morgan and Peace dollar is composed of 90% silver and 10%copper. Each weighs 26.73 grams which equates to .773 ounces. So, based off of what silver prices are when you are reading/hearing this, Melt value alone makes them worth more than their face value. My advice, if you have any of these, please, do not spend them based off of their face value, for if you do, you’ll make that cashier one very happy person.
Any who, continuing onto the Redfield hoard. The Redfield hoard is named for LaVere Redfield, aka the Silver Dollar King. There is not a great deal of information on Lavere however we can deduce that he was born around the turn of the 20th century. To quote Elaine Bennis from Seinfeld, Redfield was known to be “Careful” with his money. In other words…..he was cheap. He was also known as a colorful and eccentric character. The biggest fact to remember though, being as this is a money hoarding story, is that Redfield had a great mistrust for banks, paper currency and, like many out there even today, the Government.
It wasn’t until after the stock market crash of 1929 that Redfield moved to California, Los Angeles to be exact, and began investing in oil and stocks. He bought the kind of stocks that no one wanted and he made a killing from them. Soon after he moved to Reno, Nevada where he began investing in Real estate. It’s believed that the reason he moved to Reno was due to the abundance of Casinos. The casinos used a ton of Silver dollars for payouts therefore the banks were stocked with them. Being as Redfield didn’t trust paper currency; he converted as much of his liquid assets as he could into silver dollars, and since the Reno banks had many on had it worked out perfect for him. Another source states that he moved to Nevada to take advantage of its states tax haven status. Redfield, for the most part, went completely unnoticed, and that’s the way he liked it, until one cold January afternoon in 1948.
Redfield began to make his way from playing roulette at a downtown casino. It was at the time of day when all the kids were still in school and the neighborhood was lacking the noise of children playing hopscotch and kick the can. He had some good luck at the casino that day, winning around $2300, which was tucked into a paper bag clutched tightly in his hand. He noticed a man had been following hi for a few blocks and began to pick up his pace. The strangerovertook him and said “Give me the $2300”. Redfield no doubt deduced that the strange man had been watching him since the casino. Redfield, being the money loving man he was, wasn’t about to give up his winnings without a fight. The stranger clutched a brick in his hand and smacked Redfield on the side of his head. The mugger demanded the money again, still Redfield resisted. He hit Redfield several more times still Redfield would not give up the money. Fearing that the neighbors in the quiet neighborhood would find the situation out, the mugger left and ran way, unable to obtain Redfield’s winnings. Redfield had a fractured skull but he still had his money. A passerby called the police and an ambulance was called out to pick Redfield up.

When word got around about the attempted mugging and of red fields riches, four more attempts to rob him took place. His low profile of being rich was now out of his hands and he was a target for all would be robbers. It was the beginning of the end of his unknown wealth. Redfield died in 1974 with an estate worth of about $100,000,000 and in the basement of his home, which many would consider modest, behind a false wall was a hoard of 411,000 silver dollars. As mentioned previously, Most were Morgan Dollars but some were Peace dollars. Many of them were still in their original mint bags. And just as a side note, the weight of 411,000 silver dollars is right around 11 tons.   

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