The Durham Museum
Home > Experience > Exhibits > Permanent Exhibits > Byron Reed Gallery of Coins and Documents

In the late 19th century, Omaha real estate agent Byron Reed gradually put together a stunning collection of coins, documents, books, maps, and other items of great historical importance. Upon his death in 1891, Reed gave his collection to the city of Omaha and it is now housed at The Durham Museum. Significant portions of Reed's collection are on exhibit; of special interest is the "Treasures Cabinet," containing Reed's specimen of the 1804 Dollar.

The Byron Reed Collection also includes:   

Ancient Coinage
· Roman Imperial coins: including examples from the reigns of the Emperors Hadrian, Tiberius, Justinian, and Commodus

· Byzantine

· Ancient Greece: including a silver dekadachm depicting Alexander the Great

· Egyptian  

Foreign Coinage In Early America 
·  Colonial Coins: many choice examples of state, private, colonial and Confederation coins minted prior to 1792.

· Federal-Issue Coinage: an almost complete set of every regular-issue denomination produced by the United States Mint from 1792 until 1890.

· Patterns: These trial strikes, or test coins, vary widely in size, metal, lettering and imagery from the coins most Americans are used to seeing.

· Territorial Gold: Privately-issued gold coins, including the largest coin to ever circulate in America. 

Exonumia: America's "Other Money"

· Hard Times Tokens: issued following the Panic of 1837 and are notable for their scathing political commentary. Even President Andrew Jackson, who is lampooned on most issues, collected these historic pieces of Americana.

· Sutler Tokens: used by soldiers during the Civil War to purchase goods not offered by the Union Army.

· Civil War Tokens: Most contain pro-Union sentiments, though a few are pro-Confederate.

· Merchant Tokens: or “store cards”, an integral part of this country's money supply since the Colonial era.

· Political Memorabilia: from every American presidential campaign.

Documents, Manuscripts, and Books

· Documents and Manuscripts: Ranging from Medieval land deeds and tax forms to letters from the Omaha Mayor's office of 1890, includes five hundred years of world history.

· Books: Ranging from political history, geography and biographies to music and the arts.

· Autographs: Signers of the Declaration of Independence, Civil War generals, and American Presidents. Including the entire document signed by the person, rather than just the clipped signature.

· Currency: hundreds of different bank notes, particularly the "wildcat" notes prior to 1862.


· Military and Naval Medals: early military medals including the famous Libertas American medal designed by Benjamin Franklin to commemorate the American victory over England in the Revolutionary War.

· Peace Medals: presented to Native American tribes by the U.S. government as gestures of friendship, contains an example of all the peace medal types issued from the time of John Adams until the practice ceased in 1890.

· Assay Medals: issued as proof of the purity of the nation's money supply.