The JR Newsletter is the official e-newsletter of the John Reich Collectors Society. The purpose of the John Reich Collectors Society (JRCS) is to encourage the study of numismatics, particularly United States gold and silver coins minted before the introduction of the Seated Liberty design, and to provide technical and educational information concerning such coins.
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From David Perkins:
Revisiting Old Dollar Whist
I was thinking the other day about the time five John Reich members played “Old Dollar Whist,” as termed by Bill Luebke. For those of you who don’t know Bill, he collected the early dollars by die marriage with over 100 marriages when he sold his collection, and importantly was the founder of JR News (along with “Jazzy Cat!”).
The rules are pretty simple, and are laid out in Penny Whimsey, a book on early American Large Cents by William H. Sheldon. While the book describes old cent whist for Large Cents by die marriage it certainly can be applied to other denominations of early U.S. coins collected by die marriage, from half cents to early dollars and gold. Here is the description from page 336 (1965 Printing):
“The late Dr. George French, who brought together one of the most famous collections of early cents, loved to compare and match his collection against that of others. He invented a game which he used to call old cent whist. It was a game usually played by two and the idea was to score points against an opponent’s collection. Each of the known varieties then numbering about 270 [for Large Cents], was taken up in order. You started with the Chain AMERI. Variety, which is the 1-A of 1793, and you put your coin up on the table. Your opponent in turn produced his Chain AMERI. and the two pieces were compared to determine which was of superior condition. Possession of the variety, in any condition, counted one point. Possession of a piece superior to that of your opponent counted another point. So, for each variety you could score one point, two points, or no points, as could your opponent. If you had the variety and your opponent lacked it, you beat him two to nothing. If he had one, but inferior to yours, you beat him two to one. If his coin about tied yours in condition, you each scored one point.”
I am aware of Whist being played in the past with Half Cents, Large Cents, and early Dollars 1794 to 1803 – all by die marriage. I’m also aware of Whist being played with subsets of a series as mutually agreed upon. And games with more than just two players.
Here is a John Reich Journal article from August 2006 written by Bill Luebke about a game of “Old Dollar Whist” played in 2006 with five players, all current John Reich members and collectors of the early dollars 1794 to 1803 by die marriage. The story begins on page 35 of the Journal. You can quickly bring this article up on your screen by clicking on the link for Volume 17 / Issue 2 as archived on the Newman Portal.