United States v. Gardiner
35 U.S. 618

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Gardiner, 35 U.S. 10 Pet. 618 618 (1836)

United States v. Gardiner

35 U.S. (10 Pet.) 618

Syllabus

Indictment for forging a silver coin of Spain, called a "head pistareen," which the indictment alleged was, by law, made current in the United States. Held that the head pistareen is no part of the Spanish milled dollar. That such pistareen or piece of coin is not a silver coin of Spain made current by law in the United States.

At October term 1835, the defendant was indicted in the circuit court for that he,

"Joseph Gardner, late of the Township of Bloomfield, in the County of Essex and in the District of New Jersey, on 15 June in the year of our Lord 1835, with force and arms, &c., at the Township of Bloomfield, in the County of Essex, in the District of New Jersey aforesaid and within the jurisdiction of this court, did falsely and feloniously make, forge, and counterfeit one hundred pieces of false and counterfeit coin, each piece thereof in the resemblance and similitude of a foreign silver coin, to-wit, a silver coin of Spain, called a 'head pistareen,' which by law was then and still is made current in the United States of America, against the form of the statute of the United States of America in such case made and provided."

The second count in the indictment charged that the defendant

"did feloniously and willingly aid and assist in falsely and feloniously making, forging and counterfeiting one hundred pieces of false and counterfeit coin, each piece thereof in the resemblance and similitude of a foreign silver coin, to-wit, a silver coin of Spain, called a 'head pistareen,' which by law was then and still is made current in the United States of America, against the form of the statute of the United States of America in such case made and provided."

The jury found the following special verdict:

"That the said defendant, Joseph Gardner, did make, forge, and counterfeit four pieces of false and counterfeit coin, each piece thereof in the resemblance and similitude of a foreign silver coin, to-wit, a silver coin of Spain, called a 'head pistareen,' in manner and form as stated in the said indictment. That genuine coin of the description of the said head

Page 35 U. S. 619

pistareen has for many years last past been in common circulation in the country. That the same has commonly passed at the rate of 20 cents each; that few of them are now in circulation. That they are still received and paid at the said rate of 20 cents each; that they have been sometimes sold at the rate of 22 cents each. That their average value by weight is between 22 1/4 cents, and 22 1/2 cents each; that their average value by assays at the mint of the United States is 19 cents 7 mills each. That the said genuine coin, called 'head pistareens,' have on their face the same characters as one class or kind of the Spanish dollar and half dollar, excepting the letter and figure '2 R' on said pistareens, '4 R' on the said half dollar, and '8 R' on the said dollar, and thus purport to be quarters of said dollar. That said dollar is of the weight of seventeen pennyweights and seven grains, and the said half dollar is the one-half of the weight of said dollar. That the said dollar is of the weight required by law, is a Spanish coin, genuine and milled, and passes current as a dollar. That the said half dollar is commonly circulated at the rate of 50 cents each, and that the said false and counterfeit pieces of coin made by the said defendant, with the said dollar and half dollar, with other Spanish coin given in evidence to the said jury, are now presented to the said court as a part of this their finding. But whether or not upon the whole matter aforesaid, by the jurors aforesaid, in form aforesaid found, the said Joseph Gardner is guilty in manner and form as he stands charged in the said indictment, the jury are altogether ignorant, and therefore they pray the advice of the said court."

"And if upon the whole matter aforesaid it shall seem to the said court that the said Joseph Gardner is guilty in manner and form as he stands charged in said indictment, then the jurors aforesaid, upon their oath aforesaid, say that the said Joseph Gardner is guilty thereof in manner and form as he stands charged. But if upon the whole matter aforesaid it shall seem to the said court that the said Joseph Gardner is not guilty in manner and form as he stands charged in said indictment, then the jurors aforesaid, upon their oath aforesaid, say that the said Joseph Gardner is not guilty in manner and form as he stands charged in the said indictment."

The judges of the circuit court were opposed in opinion on the following questions involved in this special verdict:

1. Whether the head pistareen so called is a part of a Spanish milled dollar.

Page 35 U. S. 620

2. Whether such pistareen or piece of coin is a silver coin of Spain, made current by law in the United States.

These questions were, at the request of the district attorney of the United States, stated under the direction of the judges aforesaid, and ordered by the court to be certified under the seal of the court to the Supreme Court of the United States at their next session to be held thereafter, to be finally decided by the said supreme court, and the court being further of opinion that further proceedings could not be had in said cause without prejudice to the merits of the same cause, did order that all further proceedings on the said indictment be stayed until the decision of the Supreme Court shall be remitted to the said circuit court, and then entered of record.

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