Print | Back to e-WV The West Virginia Encyclopedia

William ‘‘Coin’’ Harvey


Social reformer William Hope ‘‘Coin’’ Harvey (August 16, 1851-February 11, 1936) was born in Buffalo, Putnam County. He was one of the most remarkable personalities to emerge from West Virginia. He was a school teacher, lawyer, builder, silver miner, politician, land speculator, geologist, and bestselling author.

Harvey attended Buffalo Academy and Marshall College (now Marshall University) before leaving to read law. He was admitted to the bar at 19 and in 1874 was practicing law in Huntington. In 1883, Harvey went to Colorado and worked as a silver prospector and miner. It was then he became an advocate for “free silver,” a populist cause that called for the abandonment of the gold standard and a return to the free coinage of silver. After 10 years in the West, he relocated in Chicago and began writing and publishing books on the subject. One of his books, Coin’s Financial School, sold more than a million copies and earned Harvey his nickname.

After the defeat of free silver presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan in 1896, Harvey propounded other reforms, including the abolition of imperialism, taxes, rent, interest, and profits. In 1900, he moved to Arkansas where he began building an extensive retreat and vacation resort. He also started construction of a huge pyramid to become a time capsule to perpetuate his theories and ideas. William ‘‘Coin’’ Harvey was nominated for president of the United States by the Liberty Party in 1932 and received more than 50,000 votes.

Harvey’s house on Third Avenue in Huntington was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

Read the National Register nomination.

Written by Bill Wintz


  1. Rice, Otis K. & Stephen W. Brown. West Virginia: A History. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1993.

  2. West Virginia Writers' Project. West Virginia: A Guide to the Mountain State. New York: Oxford University Press, 1941.

  3. Harvey, William Hope. Coin's Financial School. Cambridge, MA: 1963.