US Coins

Coins star on television show The Beverly Hillbillies

This is on online-exclusive bonus installment in a series of articles written for Gerald Tebben's cover feature about coins starring in television programs, published in the March 2016 issue of Coin World Monthly. This article is about an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies airing May 5, 1965.

Check your change, you might find a rare 1894-S Barber dime, because Granny Clampett spent one.

In one of the most beloved stories about coins, Hallie Daggett, young daughter of San Francisco Mint Director John Daggett, spent a rare 1894-S Barber dime that her father had given her, on a dish of ice cream.

A coin that grades a well-worn Good is often cited as being the Hallie Daggett coin, though today the story that she had spent one as a little girl is largely debunked. However, no one has reported finding the one Granny spent in a 1965 episode of The Beverly Hillbillies.

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In “The Big Battle” (season 3, episode 29) Banker Milburn Drysdale (Raymond Bailey) tries to get his hillbilly neighbor and multimillion-dollar client, Jed Clampett (Buddy Ebsen), interested in a hobby.

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A suggestion that he take up building ships in bottles falls flat after nephew Jethro Bodine (Max Baer Jr.) liberates a ship from a bottle by whacking off the bottle’s bottom.

Stamp collecting goes nowhere, too. After he is shown a Hawaii stamp worth $50,000, Jed says, “I don’t know nobody in Hawaii, and if I did I wouldn’t write them at that price.”

Coins get a similar reaction.

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“Now Mr. Clampett, here’s a hobby that’s worth anybody’s time — collecting money,” banker Drysdale says.

Jed replies, “Mr. Drysdale, if there’s one thing I don’t need it’s more money

Drysdale shows Jed a folder of coins. “This collection belongs to a friend of mine,” he says, “You see that dime.”

“Yep,” says Jed. 

“He paid $12,000 for that,” Drysdale says.

Jed chuckles, “He got slickered. A dime’s only worth 10 cents.”

Drysdale persists, “Look at this one. This one’s minted at San Francisco in 1894.”

The screen then shows a close-up of a coin folder filled with low-grade Winged Liberty Head and Barber dimes. The 1894 dime in the center of the frame is a dark, ugly affair that would probably grade about Good.

Jed, in a setup to a joke that surfaces toward the end of the episode, asks, “You mean if you put that dime in one to those candy machines you’d get back $12,000 worth of candy?”

“No, “ Drysdale replies, “You’d only get 10 cents worth.”

Jed opines, “You’d better help you friend, he needs it.”

Jed and Drysdale depart, leaving the coins and stamps behind in the Clampett mansion hallway.

Later, Granny (Irene Ryan) and Ellie May (Donna Douglas) go to the office where Jed is working. (Jed has been offered a job by a rival banker trying to get his account away from Drysdale.)

“Granny found a whole bunch of pocket change in the front hall,” Ellie declares.

“Have a candy bar,” Granny tells a secretary. “I found a bunch of dimes and I’ve been giving that candy machine fits.”

The 1894-S dime was worth a bit more than $12,000 in 1965. In 1961, the Newcomer specimen, which grades Proof 60, sold for $13,500 in the Hydeman sale. In 1986, the last time it appeared at auction, it fetched $91,300.

Actor Buddy Ebsen, who played Jed Clampett, was actually a coin collector of note. Superior Galleries sold his collection for $7.7 million in 1987. The highlight of the auction, a Proof 65 1879 Coiled Hair Stella $4 gold pattern fetched $165,000. Alas, Granny’s coin wasn’t in the sale.

The episode can be viewed free online at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALdEyjdnCyg.


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