Julia Casey submitted these notes on Gus Wegefarth's Gold and Silver Dollar Saloons in Buffalo, NY. Thanks!
I read about the Gold and Silver Dollar Saloons in Buffalo and wanted to pass along what I found in an article published in the Buffalo Commercial (June 26 1919). This article included the attached illustration, unfortunately it is not the clearest of scans but it shows some events in the history of the saloons. One scene depicts a man on the floor with a cutting tool and the caption "A FAVORITE INDOOR SPORT OF THOSE DAYS" Digging silver dollars from the floor at Wegefarth's."
Others note that "A huge replica of a dollar was imbedded in the sidewalk in front of the place" and "The bar was dotted with gold pieces."
There is also mention made to Wegefarth's suicide. I found this event reported in the November 4, 1907 Buffalo News. Gustavus Wegefarth was said to be 52 years old when he shot himself three times in the head at his home in Philadelphia. He was the manager of the Grand Opera House in that city at the time of his death. He was said to have been having financial difficulties and also suffered from lingering injuries as a result of a prior accident.
Earlier in 1907 newspapers reported that Dr. George Conderman of Hornell, NY had purchased the Gold Dollar fixtures at a bargain basement price of $600. Conderman was said to have removed $200 in gold pieces from the top of the bar so that his net expense was $400. The fixtures were described in the May 1, 1907 Jamestown Evening Journal as including "$2,800 worth of onyx and mirrors of fabulous value" along with "numerous other attachments of high value." Conderman was apparently surprised that he was able to afford the fixtures and did not have a plan for them except that he would take them to Hornell and possibly install them in his store on the new "Conderman Block" on Broad Street. The article stated that: "The gold dollars, of course, won't be restored to the counter, but it probably will be called the 'Gold Dollar.'" I have not been able to find any further information about what happened to the fixtures or if they are still located in Hornell.
Regarding the coins that made up the decor of the saloons, the 1919 article states that:
"The Gold Dollar went on the rocks as far as Gus was concerned and he got out. In more than one way did he lose money. Try as he would to prevent it, dollars disappeared from the floor and from the bar. Whether friends took them as souvenirs or whether they were taken by thieves, they disappeared."
This 1919 article also said that Wegefarth came to Buffalo in 1884 and purchased the Silver Dollar Saloon and he then remodeled it and added the inlaid coins. He later sold the Silver Dollar Saloon and purchased and remodeled the Gold Dollar Saloon. The article implies that Wegefarth conceived the idea of adding the coins to the decor - this would seem to contradict the 1870 date for the presence of the coins in the saloons. But I was not able to spend the time yet to fully research this.
To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
GOLD DOLLAR SALOON OPEN ON NEW YEAR'S DAY
NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: JANUARY 9, 2022 :
Wegefarth's Gold and Silver Dollar Saloon
Wayne Homren, Editor
The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization
promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at coinbooks.org.
To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor
at this address: email@example.com
To subscribe go to: https://my.binhost.com/lists/listinfo/esylum
Copyright © 1998 - 2021 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS)
All Rights Reserved.
NBS Home Page
Contact the NBS webmaster