Buckskin currency

The two pieces of buckskin currency Cody resident Bonnie Vogel discovered in her mother-in-law’s things.

If you are stuck at home, now might be the perfect time to look through old boxes to find antiques you didn’t even know or remember you had. Cody resident Bonnie Vogel did just that, and found some local specialty money dating back to the 1930s.

Vogel’s mother-in-law passed away a few years ago, and recently Vogel went through some of her items and found something peculiar: two pieces of buckskin currency dated back to 1934. The bucks, originally priced at $1 and 50 cents, were originally part of a fundraising campaign for the Cody Stampede. The bucks include the words, “Cody is nestled in heart of Rocky Mountains and Dude Country,” and they were good until July 2-4 of 1934.

Vogel didn’t think too much about the find initially.

“At first, it was just kind of ‘Huh, that’s cool,’” Vogel said, “but when I was telling my friend at work, Debbie Newkirk, about them she got all excited. She told me how cool it was to find these, and the two of us started digging into their history. We spoke with Robyn Cutter about it, and she gave us a lot of information.”

As archivist of the Park County Archives, Cutter had a few news stories relating to the buckskin dollars. The original purpose was to fundraise money for the Cody Stampede, particularly for the support of the Miss Cody Stampede contest.

“The participants who were vying for the crown were encouraged to sell as many to local businesses as they could, and they matched the dollar value and were used at the rodeo,” Vogel said.

The bucks were different values, such as 50 cents and $1, and some $5 and $10. For a limited time, the money was exchangeable at a few participating Cody businesses, particularly at the Cody Rodeo itself and Wolfville Hall. The Wolfville Hall of old Cody where the bucks could be used in the Monte Carlo casino hosted music, dancing and gambling after the show at the rodeo grounds.

“Different forms of money had been used over the years: some paper, some coin, and this buckskin leather which was only used in 1934,” Cutter said. “Wolfville had an all-night gambling and dancing pavilion where people would come and spend millions of dollars in Wolfville currency in the gambling area.”

The young women participating in the 1934 fundraising included Vonda Walley, Marjorie Early, Pat Greever, Marie Rule, Ruth Taggart and Peggy Shaw. Among the ladies, Greever was crowned Queen of the Rodeo and Miss Cody Stampede after selling the most bucks, with around a $90 difference between her and the second and third place winners, Early and Rule. 

First prize included a full rodeo costume, including a Stetson hat, shirt, neckerchief, leather vest and skirt and a pair of Justin boots. The hat and boots came with the compliments of their companies, and the vest and skirt were donated by ranch manager Tex Kennedy. Second and third prizes included hats, shirts, vests and other apparel donated by local merchants.

Vogel said she didn’t know why her mother-in-law had kept the bucks for so long and in such good condition, or how she even received them in the first place, but she did have some theories.

“I know her parents owned a local saddle store here,” Vogel said. “I don’t know if her father purchased them himself as a business, or if he made the buckskin money himself in his store’s leather shop.”

Vogel said if anyone has the $5 and $10 buckskin dollars and would like a complete set, to contact her at (307) 250-3915. 

She said she was glad to share a little part of Cody’s history with people.

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