New Discovery: NGC Certifies Pedley-Ryan "J.O" Counterstamped HK-825 So-Called Dollars
In July and August of 2022, three NGC certified Pedley-Ryan HK-825 So-Called Dollars were offered on eBay with the "J.O" counterstamp. All three were from the same NGC submission (4932061) and were the only specimens known to the seller, Smokin Frog Coins, who indicated they were purchased together in an estate lot. There are two varieties, one with the "J.O" above "PEDLEY-RYAN & CO." of which two exist, and a unique variety with "J.O" on the other side below "430 GRAINS". All three are certified by NGC as problem-free with the variety noted as "J.O.". SoCalledDollar.com by John Raymond has cataloged both varieties as SCD-387c.
Note: Certification by NGC is notable as NGC has rejected certifying other non-cataloged, modified medals such as Bryan Dollars in the past. The only other known Pedley-Ryan dollars with additional counterstaps that have been certified are the "ROBBINS ON THE CORNER" pieces cataloged in Hiber & Kappen and the "I929" (aka "1929") counterstamp discussed in Appendix 1 below.
The original submission numbers are:
It's worth noting the different locations of the "J.O" counterstamp similar to how Hiber and Kappen assigned different HK numbers to the location of the "ROBBINS ON THE CORNER" counterstamp for HK-827 and HK-827a. Organizing the coins this way, we have:
"J.O" Variety 1: J.O above "PEDLEY-RYAN" - 2 known (R9)
"J.O" Variety 2: J.O below "430 GRAINS" - 1 known (R10)
The three specimens were acquired by JP Coins (4932061-007) and John Wang (4932061-005 and 4932061-006).
Discussions of these pieces have been had with Daniel Carr, John Dean, John Raymond, Jeff Shevlin, and JP. Of note regarding HK-825, Daniel Carr and John Dean each own a "I929" counterstamped specimen and John Raymond has an "I.O.U." engraved specimen.
JP stated the following regarding his discussions with Dan Carr and Jeff Shevlin:
In a thread regarding this piece specifically, Dan Carr noted, “The ‘J.O.’ font is significantly different than the other marking. It could be a vintage marking with some meaning, or just an owner's initials added later.” Additionally, I sought guidance from both the renowned John Dean, as well as Jeff Shevlin. Neither had seen this variety nor had any historical context on it. However, both noted how fascinating it was. — There was also speculation within the discussion that in this particular case of Pedley-Ryan, it was a girl that did the stamping. It was wondered if "J.O" could possibly be her initials. Unfortunately, the So-Called Dollar Guide doesn't indicate the girl's name but it would be great to identify. This could potentially explain the background.
Speculation on "J.O" Meaning
It may never be known what "J.O" represents on these pieces, but they are fascinating and may have connections to other Pedley-Ryan pieces and the collecting community. There are currently 4 different theories on the origins of the "J.O" initials that have been speculated. It's noteworthy that there is no second period after the "O" which is part of the reasoning for the ranking of these ideas.
Theory 1: "Johnson-Overton" family keepsake
Albert Charles Overton was a resident and coin dealer in Colorado Springs, Colorado, who served on the Assay Commission for 1971. He married Canzada Johnson who changed her name to Canzada Johnson Overton upon marriage. The theory is that "J.O" is a stand in for "J-O" which represents their combined family names for "Johnson-Overton" where a period was used in place of a dash. Dan Carr details this theory:
I noticed that the NGC labels on the JO version are wrong. The imprint is NOT “J.O.” . The imprint is “J.O” (no period after the “O”). This is significant. I think there is absolutely no chance that this would be any sort of presentation piece to a politician or dignitary. If it was, more than just their initials would have been used, and they would have at least included a period after the last name letter. I am certain that is was a family keepsake, like a “love token” of sorts. The most logical meaning for it would be like a “J-O” for Johnson-Overton, but lacking a “-“ (dash) character, a “.” (period) character was used instead.
John Raymond made a valuable observation on the dot between the letters "J" and "O" which appears to support this theory with the dot being a stand in for a dash. While the dot may be closer to the O, it also appears to be roughly centered.
One thing that is sort of odd about the dot is that it is closer to the O than the J. A dot after an initial would usually be closer to the letter that it goes with, in this case the J.
Theory 2: Presentation to U.S. Senators
The publication "The Pike Centennial Celebration 1906" by The Historical Society of the Pikes Peak Region indicates that 25 numbered sets consisting of bronze, silver and gold-plated specimens were made of the Pike's Peak Southwest Expedition Centennial (HK-336). Recipients of the first 6 sets were recorded with set number 5 going to Thomas Walsh, a future US Senator from Montana, which is detailed in Appendix 2 below. This theory is that these Pedley-Ryan pieces could have been presented to a U.S. Senator with the initials "J.O." such as Joseph O'Mahoney of Wyoming or John H. Overton of Louisiana. JP writes:
I researched all the US Senators from the 73rd US Congress (1933-1935) for the initials “J.O.” The time period this piece was struck. Two stood out in particular:
- Louisiana Senator: John H. Overton
- Wyoming Senator: Joseph C. O'Mahoney
Of course this is purely speculation. However, knowing medals such as this were indeed presented to Senators, it’s not out of the question to think this was possible. With that said, this medal may have indeed been both presented to and in the collection of either John H. Overton of Louisiana or Joseph C. O'Mahoney of Wyoming.
Theory 3: Jacque Ostheimer
Noted So-Called Dollar collector Jacque Ostheimer has the initials "J.O." and passed away on September 2, 2021, less than a year before these were first offered in July, 2022. It's worth noting that the Ostheimer collection of So-Called Dollars was previously acquired by W. David Perkins, so if these did belong to Jacque, they must have been retained for sentimental or other reasons.
Theory 4: Pedley-Ryan counterstamping employee
While there is no known person associated with Pedley-Ryan & Co. with the initials J.O., Hiber & Kappen note that the "discs were stamped by a girl in the Pedley-Ryan office." This theory is that this person that was doing the counterstmaping had the initials "J.O." and this was created by and for them.
Images of the 3 specimens are included below. The images for the JP specimen are from the original eBay seller, Smokin Frog Coins, while the images for the Wang specimens are from a reholder submission which added the pedigree.
"J.O" Variety 1 - JP Specimen (1 of 2 known)
This is specimen currently certified as NGC 4932061-007.
"J.O" Variety 1 - Wang Specimen (1 of 2 known)
This specimen is currently certified as NGC 6330268-001. This coin was submitted to NGC as 4932061-006 as seen in the in the PhotoVision to add the pedigree and NGC recertified it as 6330268-001.
The following are the current photos of the slab.
"J.O" Variety 2 - Wang Specimen (Unique)
This specimen is currently certified as NGC 4932061-005.
This section covers a comparion of the "J.O" counterstamp including:
- the arrangement of the "J", "." and "O" in the counterstamp on the three pieces
- the position of the "J.O" relative to "PEDLEY-RYAN & Co."
John Raymond performed a detailed analysis of the counterstamps and concluded:
- On the 2 Type 1 pieces, the punches "J", "." and "O" appear to be in the same positions relative to each other so either they are part of a single punch or they were individual punches that were bound together.
- On the 2 Type 1 pieces, the "J.O" are in different relative positions to "PEDLEY-RYAN & Co.", though they may appear to be in the same location initially.
The following collage was created by John Raymond to assist in the comparison.
Both of the conclusions can be seen in the following overlay of the JP specimen over the Wang specimen.
The conclusions comparing the Type 1 to the Type 2 specimens are:
- The letters "J" and "O" are closer to each other on the Type 2 specimen
- The dot looks a bit different on the Type 1 and Type 2 where it looks like a small diagonal gouce on the the Type 1 pieces and a more vertical line on the Type 2.
Hiber & Kappen catalogs Pedley-Ryan Dollars using HK numbers but also lists Types I-VII as follows:
- Type I / HK-822: "PEDLEY-RYAN & CO. DENVER" on both sides.
- Type II / HK-823: "90% FINE"
- Type III / HK-824: "90%" (no FINE)
- Type IV / HK-825: "430 GRAINS"
- Type V / HK-826: "PEDLEY-RYAN & CO." (no DENVER)
- Type VI / HK-827: "ROBBINS ON THE CORNER" counterstamp (2 varieties)
- Type VII / HK-828: "SILVER THE KEY TO PROSPERITY"
These can be seen in the online reference.
Extending these types with the known and recognized counterstaps, could result in the following proposed Pedley-Ryan Dollar types:
- Type VIII: "I929" counterstamp
- Type IX: "J.O" counterstamp (2 varieties)
Appendix 1: The "1929/I929" Counterstamp
The only other HK-unlisted additional counterstamp that has been certified is the "I929" counterstamp, commonly referred to as "1929", of which only three are known. Information on these is provided as it may assist in the discussion regarding the origins of these pieces as well.
- NGC refers to these as "1929" on their inserts.
- SoCalledDollar.com by John Raymond catalogs this as SCD-387a.
The Hollinbeck Kagin Coin Co. numismatic catalog from 1967 that gives some historical reference to the three 1929 unlisted specimens. Details in the catalog are as follows:
1929 UNLISTED PEDLEY-RYAN DOLLAR:
Acquired from us in early 1964 after we purchased two specimens from Al Overton of Pueblo, Colorado. One specimen is in the Kagin Reference Collection of Colorado Gold & Silver and this other specimen we traded then for the equivalent of about 1,000.00. Obverse has PEDLEY-RYAN & CO. DENVER, reverse 1929 ONE OUNCE SILVER 90%, uncirculated. Accompanying the piece is a photostat letter with KENYON V. PAINTER, Phoenix, Arizona (Mr. Painter is listed on page 213 of the Guidebook as one of the special panel of authorities who's opinion enters into the consesus on Private & Territorial Gold Coins) at top. The letter is addressed to Al Overton, "Dear Mr. Overton: Concerning the history of the Three Pedley-Ryan Pieces dated 1929, I will tell you all I know about them. My father, Mr. William Burkart, was the founder and president of Ajax Iron Works which was started about 1914. They had their plant at 1709 Blake St., Denver, Colorado, along with another plant on Osage St. Mr. Burkart outside of running a foundry did a great deal of precision tool and die work. He also was one of the large manufacturers of mining equipment. When the decision was made to sell the firm several years after my parents death, it was necessary to clean out the safe which had been in the Blake St. office for a great many years. These three pieces were found in this safe at this time. I feel these pieces were made up by my father as a favor to the Pedley-Ryan group prior to their issue in the thirties. My feeling is that these were the experimental pieces and that there were probably more than just these three pieces made. Sincerely yours, Norma B. Painter." Since one specimen is impounded in the Overton Colorado Collection and another in the Kagin Colorado Collection, this third is the only one available.
1929 PEDLEY-RYAN. Uncirculated: AN OUTSTANDING RARITY! $1.500.00
The Hollinbeck-Kagin page below is provided by Dan Carr. Of note, the catalog mentions varieties for "PEDLEY-RYAN & CQ." and "PEDLEY-RYAN & COO.".
$1,500 in 1967 seems like a significant premium. This makes me wonder about the “J.O.” Variety.
As of today, there are only three known “1929” issues as follows:
- Overton Colorado Collection — Later acquired into the Carr Colorado Collection
- Kagin Colorado Collection
- John Dean Colorado Collection
Appendix 2: 1906 Pike's Peak Southwest Expedition Centennial numbered set recipients
In the document "The Pike Centennial Celebration 1906" by Ed and Nancy Bathke, names recpients of the first 6 six of the Pike's Peak Southwest Expedition Centennial medals on page 13. The following appears to be a list of the people based on the names in the document.
- General William Jackson Palmer (1836–1909)
- Zalmon Gilbert Simmons Sr. (1828-1910)
- Judge Horace Gray Lunt (1847-1923)
- US Representative Franklin Eli Brooks (1860-1916, US Representative for Colorado from 1903-1907)
- Thomas James Walsh (1859-1933, US Senator for Montana from 1913-1933)
- Colorado Jesse Fuller McDonald (1858-1942, Governor of Colorado from 1905-1907)
While the document indicates that sets of 3 were to be numbered and the first six sets were distributed as such, John Dean indicates that the only known numbered pieces today are 2 specimens of HK-336, the silver with gray-oxidized finish variety, as follows:
- HK-336 edge marked "5" in the Carr Colorado Collection
- HK-336 edge marked "10" in the Dean Colorado Collection
Here is the text of the passage is transcribed as follows:
The first twenty-five each, of the bronze, the silver, and the gold-plated medals were to be numbered. Newspaper accounts early in the summer told of plans to auction these highly-prized sets for large sums, set number one bringing in, hopefully, a thousand dollars. Just when the auction plan was abandoned, we don't know, but on August 4 Wray wrote letters distributing the first six sets. Set number one was given to Palmer, number 2 to Z. G. Simmons, number 3 to Judge Lunt, number 4 to Rep. Brooks, number 5 to Thomas Walsh, and number 6 to Colorado Gov. Jesse McDonald. The disposal of the remaining 19 numbered sets is not recorded.
Here is a scan of the original section:
Thanks to the following people were consulted for this article.
- Daniel Carr, including access to source document Hollinbeck Kagin Coin Co. numismatic catalog for April 21, 1967.
- John Dean, including access to source document "The Pike Centennial Celebration 1906" by Ed and Nancy Bathke.
- John Raymond, including photo collage to compare "J.O" counterstamps.
- Jeff Shevlin
- JP Coins
- Hibler, Harold E. & Charles Vaughan Kappen. "PEDLEY-RYAN DOLLARS." So-Called Dollars - An Online Reference to the Book by Hibler and Kappen. https://www.so-calleddollars.com/Events/Pedley_Ryan_Dollars.html. Accessed May 7, 2023.
- Raymond, John. "OTHER SO CALLED DOLLARS". SoCalled Dollars. https://www.socalleddollar.com/akOther.html#387c). Accessed May 7, 2023.
- Wang, John & Daniel Carr, JP, et. al. "Pedley-Ryan So-Called Dollars". Collectors Universe Message Boards. https://forums.collectors.com/discussion/1078627/pedley-ryan-so-called-dollars/p1. Accessed May 7, 2023.
- Hollinbeck, Richard & Arthur Meyer Kagin. "270th MAIL SALE CONTAINING OUTSTANDING SELECTIONS OF NUMISMATIC ITEMS TO BE SOLD ON APRIL 21st 1967." Hollinbeck Kagin Coin Co. April 21, 1967. page 10.
- Bathke, Edwin "Ed" A. & Nancy Edna Bathke. "The Pike Centennial Celebration 1906". The Historical Society of the Pikes Peak Region. September 21, 1971. page 13.