The latest edition of the “Red Book” showcases over 80 so-called dollars from the Centennial Exposition
The seventh deluxe edition of A Guide Book of United States Coins, also known as the Mega Red Book, published by Whitman Publishing, has cataloged all of the so-called dollars from the Centennial Exposition. Over 80 medals are depicted, along with photos, values, and rarity information, many of which have never been cataloged before.
Contributing author Jeff Shevlin, an expert on so-called dollars, has incorporated a different section on so-called dollars into each edition of the Mega Red since its inception seven years ago.
So-called dollars are U.S. medals about the size of a silver dollar struck to commemorate events in United States history. More than 750 varieties are known, half of which are associated with a fair or exposition; others commemorate important events in American history.
Whitman publisher Dennis Tucker says:
“The Centennial Exposition of 1876 was a grand affair, attended by 10 million visitors to celebrate the 100th anniversary of American independence. In the seventh edition of Mega Red, Jeff Shevlin lays out a colorfully illustrated catalog of more than 300 varieties of So-Called Dollars – historic medals designed and engraved by well-known artists like William Barber, George B. Soley, William Key, George H. Lovett, Abraham Demarest, Carl Stubenrauch, and Rudolf Laubenheimer. In 2026, America will have a suite of new coins in our pocket change to commemorate 250 years of independence. In the meantime, we can look back to our 100th anniversary and enjoy these beautiful, historic, and collectible So-Called Dollars of America’s centennial.”
Here is a selection of medals from the Centennial Exposition included in the Mega Red Book.
1876 Centennial Exposition Liberty Bell So-Called Dollar
The Liberty Bell was on display at the Centennial Exposition held in Philadelphia. Images of the Liberty Bell, George Washington, and Independence Hall are popular icons depicted on medals from the 100-year celebration of U.S. independence. Designed and engraved by William H. Key, who worked at the United States Mint from 1864 through 1885. Key was the assistant engraver to William Barber, the Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint.
The Liberty Bell was cast with lettering stating “Proclaim Liberty throughout the Land and unto all the Inhabitants thereof,” a Biblical reference to the Book of Leviticus (25:10), the third book in The Bible. Chapter 25, verse 10, states: “Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you”. That religious quote was placed on the Liberty Bell and incorporated into the legends for the Liberty Bell medals that were struck for the exposition. It is a testimony to the religious beliefs of the founding fathers of the U.S. Constitution.
1876 Centennial Exposition Independence Hall So-Called Dollar
This die was engraved by George B. Soley, who was a die sinker and worked at the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia from 1859 until his death in 1908. Two different Independence Hall designs are depicted on so-called dollars. A larger edifice design was engraved by William H. Key and this smaller Independence Hall design was engraved by Soley.
1876 Centennial Exposition Washington and Grant So-Called Dollar
Standing figures of Washington (who was 6’3’’ tall) and Ulysses S. Grant, each with their hand on a large shield between them. A large eagle is above the shield. There is a micro signature below the shield “F X Koehler”. Francis Xavier Koehler of Baltimore, Maryland engraved the dies.
* * *
As Kenneth Bressett, editor emeritus of The Guide Book of United States Coins, said:
“It is always refreshing to observe the enthusiasm shown by medal collectors for their favorite segment of numismatics. They view the artistry, history, and significance of each piece as its prime importance in a way that is too often overlooked by those who simply collect coins with the objective of completeness or concern for condition.”
For more information on 1876 Centennial Exposition medals and other so-called dollars, visit the so-called dollar collector’s website www.So–CalledDollar.com.