Perry Mason - The Case of the Wooden Nickels (1964)
This episode of the CBS television program "Perry Mason" shows several early American and foreign coins,
including an 1861 Confederate half dollar, a 1776 Continental silver dollar, and some wooden nickels.
Perry Mason is a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney who specializes in defending murder suspects.
Some stories were adapted from mystery novels written by Erle Stanley Gardner and others were
written for the program.
confesses at the end.
in a crooked scheme involving counterfeiting rare coins and then selling them.
Perry Mason has a law office in Los Angeles, and working with him are his administrative assistant
Della Street, and the private detective Paul Drake.
She wants Drake to pick up a large sum of money at a street corner where he is to use the name
2. Drake examines the coin while Della watches
3. The Confederate half dollar obverse
4. The Confederate half dollar reverse
Copies of Confederate half dollars have been around for many years and one was used as a
prop coin in this episode.
A copy of a Confederate half dollar:
5. Confederate half dollar Copy
This coin is a common replica which is still sold as a souvenir at Civil War historical sites.
Homer Doubleday runs a small coin shop "The Numismatist" in downtown Los Angeles.
He owns the Confederate half dollar that his daughter is selling.
6. Vivian visits Homer at his coin store
Homer and Howard do not like each other, Vivian offers $60,000 for the coin which Homer declines.
Vivian proceeds to threaten Homer with Howard's wealth and power.
Homer tells her that he is selling the Confederate half dollar to someone else.
7. George Parsons and Homer at his coin store
Homer has a sideline of manufacturing replicas of rare coins and he has discovered that George
has sold some of his replicas as original coins.
"a Baldwin and Company ten-dollar gold horseman", "an 1884 trade dollar with chop marks",
"a 1776 Continental silver dollar", and "a gold Fugio cent".
These are all real extremely rare United States coins.
She tells her father that Paul Drake is handling the half dollar transaction.
Drake shows Perry the Confederate half dollar and Della produces a book "American Numismatic Guide"
which on page 166 has an article on the coin.
Due to shortage of silver bullion only four originals struck in 1861 at the New Orleans Mint
making it one of the rarest US coins.
The coins were made on a hand press using United States silver half dollar planchets.
One was presented to Jefferson Davis, one to Professor Biddle of the University of Louisiana,
a third was kept by Chief Coiner B.F. Taylor and the fourth was eventually acquired by a
Doctor H. Doubleday of New Orleans.
Perry signals a waitress and holds up a Franklin half dollar.
8. Perry Mason holds Franklin half dollar
Perry takes the Confederate half dollar to a "coin expert", he picks Howard as the expert and
heads out to Howard's mansion where Howard receives Perry in an ornate office.
9. Perry Mason and Howard Hopkins in his home office
Howard shows Perry a 1913 Liberty Nickel, one of the original five owned by Colonel Green,
son of the famous Hetty Green, he paid $22,000 for that in 1952.
(The coin here is too small to identify)
one issued at Vicksburg during the Grant siege, both worth $1000 now.
10. Howard Hopkins's coin tray with Confederate half dollar magnified
Some unidentifable tokens appear in the tray.
back from Howard.
11. Minerva and the late George Parsons
The police and Perry arrive, then police search George's apartment and find love letters from
Minerva, she becomes the prime suspect and is arrested, with Perry becoming her attorney.
to sell it to a secret buyer to keep the sale out of news. He continues that George was selling copies
to museums as originals.
Homer was going to sell the Confederate half dollar to raise funds to buy back the copies.
Minerva tells Perry that she gave Drake a replica to sell and was searching Parsons for the real one.
12. The courtroom and DA Hamilton Burger
A witness produces some wooden nickels.
13. Wooden nickels
The coin next to the wooden nickels appears to be a copy of an ancient coin.
14. The De Young Museum of San Francisco (in 1964)
This building has been torn down and a new modern building now houses the museum.
15. Museum coin room
Perry asks to see the "Ten dollar horseman", for some reason it is in a British coin holder.
16. United States $10 gold coin and British coin holder
The coin case reads "By Appointment to H.M. the Queen (or King)...
Perry discovers that the museum coin is authentic.
17. Howard's Continental dollar
Now occurs the traditional scene where the suspects and police are gathered in a room.
Perry announces that George and Vivian were stealing Howard's rare coins and substituting copies.
George would then sell the originals to museums.
He then went to Homer's coin shop, opened the safe, George walked in, and Howard shot him.
19. Howard holds his coins
They appear to be two United States Morgan silver dollars, the Continental silver dollar,
a Italian copper 10 centesimi of Victor Emanuel II, and a Mexican bronze Josefa 5 centavos coin.
announces that he is looking for wooden nickels.
20. Drake looking for wooden nickels.
Raymond Burr as Perry Mason
Barbara Hale as Della Street
William Hopper as Paul Drake
William Talman as Hamilton Burger
Will Kuluva as Homer Doubleday
Phyllis Love as Minerva Doubleday
Nancy Berg as Vivian Norman
Murray Matheson as Howard Hopkins
Jack Betts as George Parsons
Writers: Erle Stanley Gardner, Jonathan Latimer, Samuel Newman