As the man on the $100 bill himself once said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” So this month, spend some time learning about Colorado’s rich history in, well, riches at the World’s Fair of Money.

Lesher Dollars
Lesher Dollars.

All told, the items at the Denver coin show and convention are valued at more than $1 billion. Included in the price tag are these three pieces of the Centennial State’s pecuniary past.

Lesher Dollars

Years Issued: 1900–1901

After the Civil War, retired Union officer Joseph Lesher relocated to Colorado to work as a silver miner. By the turn of the century, he’d arrived in Victor, where he produced these octagonal coins with silver from the Cripple Creek mining district. Lesher closed shop after two years due to the increasing costs of operation and waning public interest—but he still managed to issue thousands of his eight-sided beauties.

Gold rush coins
Clark, Gruber, & Co. gold-rush-era coins.

Clark, Gruber & Co. Gold-Rush-Era Coins

Years Issued: 1860–1862

A problem emerged during the Colorado gold rush: a lot of gold but nowhere nearby to coin it. Then Clark, Gruber & Co. stepped in. For about three years in the 1860s, the Denver company produced these gold coins in two designs. One resembled the Liberty Head coins distributed by the federal government and another depicted an—ahem—creative reimagining of Pikes Peak.

Zebulon Pike Medal

Zebuoon Pike Medal
Zebulon Pike Medal.

Year Issued: 1906

Within the realm of “numismatics” (the study of coins and paper money) lies “exonumia” (the study of coinlike objects such as medals). This medal honors Zebulon Montgomery Pike and the 1806 discovery of his eponymous peak. Thousands were created, but not all were sold to the public as intended. In 1955, 4,000 pieces were found in a bank basement and then sold to help fund the 150th anniversary celebration of Pike’s expedition.

If You Go: The World’s Fair of Money will take place a the Colorado Convention Center from August 1–5, and tickets cost $8. Price Check Members of the public can have their coins and collections appraised (informally) for free during the convention.
All photographs of the coins are courtesy of American Numismatic Association / Edward C. Rochette Money Museum.