American Detective Fiction    Prior to July 1891

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Pubished in
Ballou’s Dollar Monthly Magazine, September 1862

This story was later included in the collection Leaves from the Note-Book of a New York Detective: The Private Record of J. B. Edited by John B. Williams, M.D. (New York: Dick and Fitzgerald, 1865. 69-72.). The stories in this volume were purportedly written by the fictional character James Brampton.

A slightly altered version of this story was published in The Hillsdale [MI] Standard, October 10, 1865.

The Coiners

by a New York Detective

  at the same time handing a sum of money to pay for it, in which there were several half dollars. The clerk pushed three of the half dollars back to me.

“Counterfeit,” said he.

“What,” said I, “do you mean to tell me those half dollars are counterfeit?”

“I do.”

“Are you certain?”

“Perfectly certain. They are remarkably well executed, but are deficient in weight. See for yourself.”

And he placed one of them in the scales against a genuine half dollar on the other side. The latter weighed down the former.

“That is the best executed counterfeit coin I ever saw in my life,” I exclaimed, examining them very closely. “Is all the counterfeit . . .


Find the full text here.






    DURING the year 1848 the West was flooded with counterfeit coin. It was so well manufactured that it passed readily. The evil at last became so great that the United States authorities requested that a skillful detective might be sent to ferret out the nest of coiners. I was fixed upon to perform the duty.

I had nothing to guide me. The fact, however, that Chicago was the city where the counterfeit coin was most abundant, led me to suspect that the manufactory might be somewhere within its limits.  It was, therefore, to the capital of the West that I first proceeded. I spent five weeks in that beautiful city, but without gaining the slightest clue of the counterfeiters.

I began to grow discouraged, and really thought I should be obliged to return home without having achieved any result. One day I received a letter from my wife requesting that I would send her home some money, as she was out of funds. I went into a bank and asked for a draft,




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