HOLDREGE — Robert Kinkaid of Lexington had worked to get the book “Forgotten Colorado Silver” published since 1982.
His efforts paid off, and the book was published this year. One of the authors, Robert D. Leonard Jr., will speak about the book at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Nebraska Prairie Museum in Holdrege.
“It’s been a long process. We’ve had people that were going to write it up, and they would wait a year or two, sometimes two or three years, and they would say they didn’t want to do it because it was so complicated,” Kinkaid said.
The book chronicles the life of Joseph Lesher and how he privately minted silver coins in Colorado in the early 1900s. The coins were common in Victor, Cripple Creek and Denver. The coins were in circulation from 1900-1901.
Kinkaid began researching the history of the Lesher Dollar in 1984. In 1992, he hired Holdrege genealogist Sandra Slater as the research director for the project. While Kinkaid said many in the coin hobby don’t know what a Lesher Dollar is, the rare coin has a unique connection to the Holdrege area.
J.M. Slusher had lived in Holdrege for many years before moving to the Cripple Creek area and eventually working for Lesher as an exclusive agent to distribute the coins. The book surmises that Slusher took the coin order of John E. Nelson, a Holdrege businessman. Nelson’s was the only business outside of Colorado to order Lesher Dollars.
“There are 41 missing tokens of the Nelson pieces because there are 50 minted. They range, the last one sold for $58,000 about two years ago. The bare minimum would be $20,000 if anyone found one,” Kinkaid said. “Nelson originally distributed them to employees and some customers.”
Through his time and efforts to get the information about the Lesher Dollar into a book format, Kinkaid connected with Leonard of Illinois, a fellow of the American Numismatic Society who has studied private coinages, including the Lesher Dollar.
“Bob Leonard took it on to write it up. He took a while to do it, but he did it. Plus he did a lot of on-line research and had paid for some research to be done on it, too. He’s the real hero of it,” Kinkaid said.
Leonard will discuss the book Thursday and be available to sign copies. Kinkaid will also have two of his own Lesher Dollars on display at the event.
When it comes to coin collecting — or numismatics — this is an opportunity that won’t come around often, Kinkaid said.
“This is like once in a lifetime for Holdrege to be on the numismatics stage,” he said.