Joshua Tatum, a deaf man from Boston, made a lot of
money during the latter part of 19th century by making
coins look more expensive than what it actually was.
These nickels looked like a $5 gold coin after he
machined them down.
These coins looked blank without imprinted value
on the surface, and Tatum had the tools to
make the coins look machined by the U.S.Mint.
He was not the only countefeiter do fool the public
with the value of these coins, but he was the “best”
He would walk into a cigar store, and “purchase” a
five-cent cigar but giving the clerk a coin thought to
be valued five dollars, getting $4.95 in change.
It was estimated that he may have tricked at least
3,000 merchants, pocketing $4.95 in change each time.
All criminals eventually get arrested and he was no exception.
The U.S. Mint learned its lesson, making sure that all
minted coins are machined with correct value.
Tatum’s attorney gave this argument in the court – that
the deaf man “never” asked for change – and that the
merchants gave him the change each time.
He was found not guilty by the jury!