Moses Cone’s monetary mischief

“In the controversy over whether the country should remain on the gold standard or convert to silver [Greensboro industrialist Moses] Cone was ardently pro-gold….

“In June 1896 he decided to pay his finishing mill employees in Mexican silver dollars. These coins had a bullion value of 54 cents, and Cone handed them out as 50-cent pieces. His goal was ‘to demonstrate in a practical way the inconveniences of a dollar that does not represent a hundred cents.’

“Puzzled local merchants… were probably reluctant to refuse the coins, since the Cones were so powerful. In the end, some redeemed the coins at 50 cents, [but] others unwittingly took a loss and redeemed them  at their face value of one dollar. The Greensboro Patriot reported, in what was probably an understatement, ‘Opinions are divided as to the  success of his scheme.’ ”

— From “A Mansion in the Mountains: The Story of Moses and Bertha Cone and Their Blowing Rock Manor” (1996) by Philip T. Noblitt