So-Called Dollars


Purpose: To commemorate 100th anniversary of exploration of Louisiana Territory and Oregon Country ("Northwest Expedition") by Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark.

Organization: Governor appointed "preliminary" State Commission 1901. "Lewis & Clark Centennial and American Pacific Exposition and Oriental Fair" chartered late 1901, capital $500,000; public subscription to stock. Permanent organization effected January 1902, with contraction of name to Lewis & Clark Centennial Exposition Co. State granted $500,000; Congress $475,000.

Site: Almost 200 acres at Willamette Heights in northwest section of city, "bordering upon and nearly surrounding Guild's Lake"; latter filled subsequently and area now largely industrial.

Dates, Attendance: June 1 to Oct. 14, 1905. Attendance over 2,500,000; probably one-half paid.

Participants: Fourteen states "officially" by own legislative action; four more "unofficially." While Congress granted financial aid, it did not authorize President to extend foreign invitations. However, official invitations from exposition co. were transmitted to foreign exhibitors at St. Louis in 1904 via U.S. Department of State and Louisiana Purchase Exposition Co. "In this manner and through other channels, a very respectable representation" was obtained from sixteen nations. Many Federal displays included Mint Exhibit.

Comment: Preliminary was construction of Lewis and Clark monument, Washington Park, Portland; President Roosevelt laid cornerstone May, 1903. State emphasis was on Fisheries, Forestry and Mining but seven major exhibition "palaces" offered usual national exposition fare. Last surviving building, Forestry building ("World's largest log cabin"), was used during Oregon Centennial Exposition 1959 but destroyed by fire on Aug. 17, 1964. Late Farran Zerbe supervised numismatic display that was "greatest...ever at any exposition"; also directed sale of Lewis & Clark commemorative gold dollars, medals, etc.

Medals: For reasons unknown, Mr. Kenney failed to list Official Souvenir Medals authorized by Exposition and struck in Mint Exhibit on grounds. Farran Zerbe reported these were of "1 type, 2 metals and 3 finishes," per below, that "issue was small compared with similar products and all were sold prior to close of Exposition." At same time (1906), he stated Silver medal was "very scarce" even then.


Photos courtesy of Tom Hoffman

Obv. Full female figure between two full male figures, all striding and facing rear toward setting sun and ocean in background; 5 stars above; above Sighting the Pacific 1805; around Official • Souvenir • Lewis • and • Clark • Centennial • Exposition; below all June--October / 1905
Rev. Map of Pacific Coast (British Columbia to San Francisco) with various worded trade routes to west and, vertical, Pacific Ocean--all within center circle; outside, around • Westward • the • Course • of • Empire • Takes • Its • Way *; below Portland • Oregon • 1905

HK-325 Silver. 34mm.
HK-326 Gold-Plated Bronze.
HK-327 Bronze.


First two medals below were only ones listed previously for exposition; obviously, they were not Official issues.

Photos courtesy of John Dean

Obv. Conjoined busts l.; above Lewis and Clark; below busts are crossed rifle, oar and telescope; below, around Centennial 1905 Exposition; beaded border.
Rev. Edifice across center; above at top Lewis & Clark / (in small letters) U. S. Government / Bldg.; below edifice Portland, / Oregon; below all, around Centennial Exposition; beaded border.

HK-328 Silver-plated, antiqued, 34mm.
HK-329 Bronze.
HK-330 Gilt bronze.
HK-331 Bronze but reeded edge. 37mm.
HK-331a Gilt bronze. Same as No. 331.
HK-331b Aluminum. Same as No. 331.

Photos courtesy of Jonathan Brecher

Obv. Similar to obverse of No. 331 with several minor differences including ampersand in Lewis & Clark.
Rev. Similar to reverse of No. 331 [Edifice].

HK-332 Bronze, reeded edge. 38mm.
HK-332a Gilt bronze. Same as No. 332.

Photos courtesy of Heritage Galleries (

Obv. Similar to obverse of No. 328 but no date.
Rev. Similar to reverse of No. 328 [Edifice].

HK-333 Bronze, no date on Obv., plain edge. 35mm.
HK-333a Gilt bronze. Same as No. 333.
HK-333b Silver, antiqued. Same as No. 333.


Photos courtesy of Heritage Galleries (

Obv. Same as obverse of No. 333 [Lewis and Clark, no date].
Rev. Similar to reverse of No. 333 [Edifice] except Washington State / Building above edifice (instead of U.S. Government / Bldg.)

HK-334 Brass, reeded edge. 38mm.

HK-324 to HK-324a