Palo Seco (1919) dollar

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Heritage sale 3032, lot 25593
Palo Seco 1919 dollar rev H3032-25593.jpg

This specimen was lot 25593 in Heritage sale 3032 (Chicago, April 2014), where it sold for $9,987.50. The catalog description[1] noted, "Palo Seco. Leper Colony Token Dollar ND (1919), XF45 NGC. The rarest denomination in the series with perhaps 12 specimens known. 1,000 pieces minted with 867 destroyed on November 28, 1955. Traditionally considered as the key item in this popular series, this rather choice example with its important pedigree to boot will undoubtedly attract spirited competition. From The Collection of Dr. Roger R. McFadden." Leprosy, or Hansen's disease, inspired fear and loathing among the neighbors of the unfortunates afflicted with the disease. Many countries set up colonies where sufferers could find refuge. Some, including Panama and the Canal Zone, issued coinage for those colonies so that money used there would not contaminate the neighbors. Medical advances demonstrated that Hansen's disease is only slightly contagious and it is treatable with antibiotics. The colonies were closed and their inmates released. The Palo Seco colony was closed in the fifties and the coinage used there was redeemed and destroyed. This cent was accompanied by five, ten twenty-five and fifty cents and a dollar token, all scarce to rare.

Recorded mintage: 1,000.

Specification: aluminum, 38 mm diameter.

Catalog reference: KM-Tn6, MGM-705.


  • Michael, Thomas, and Tracy L. Schmidt, Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1901-2000, 47th ed., Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2019.
  • [1]Bierrenbach, Cristiano, Warren Tucker and David Michaels, Heritage World and Ancient Coins Auction 3032, Dallas, TX: Heritage Auction Galleries, 2014

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