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Carrick couple uncovers rare coin in backyard

| Wednesday, June 12, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Gwen Titley | Tribune-Review
Christine Ries holds out a coin that her and her husband, Henry, found last week in their Carrick home backyard. The coin reads, 'Good for a 25 cent room ads' for the Pittsburgh Chronicle-Telegraph.
Gwen Titley | Tribune-Review
Henry and Christine Ries pose with the coin they found in the backyard of their Carrick home while they were gardening. The coin states it is good for 25 cents room ads for the Pittsburgh Chronicle-Telegraph.

For 10 consecutive years, Henry and Christina Ries have planted fruit and vegetable seeds in their backyard in the spring and reaped the harvest a few months later.

The Carrick couple picked up something unexpected near their zucchini plants while gardening in a new spot in their backyard a few weeks ago.

Henry Ries, 70, found an advertisement token for a newspaper founded in 1884. The newspaper, the Pittsburgh Chronicle Telegraph, was eventually purchased by publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst.

The text on the front of the coin says, “If presented at Office of Chronicle Telegraph.” The other side says, “Good for 25 cents on room ads.”

The Rieses think the token might be of historical significance, they said.

“We're going to see if it has any value. If not, (we'll) donate it,” said Christina Ries, 66.

The Pittsburgh Chronicle Telegraph was formed in 1884 from the merger of The Chronicle and The Telegraph, according to Chronicling America, a website produced by the National Digital Newspaper Program.

In 1927, Hearst acquired the Pittsburgh Chronicle Telegraph and Gazette Times, according to “A History of Pennsylvania” by Philip Shriver Klein.

The Chronicle Telegraph was merged with the Sun to form the Sun-Telegraph, which was purchased by the Post-Gazette in 1960.

There is an assortment of Chronicle Telegraph newspapers from 1884 to 1927 in the Thomas and Katherine Detre Library and Archives at the Heinz History Center in the Strip District, said Brady Smith, spokesman for the center.

Henry Ries said he originally thought the token he found was a “punchout from an electrical box.”

After cleaning it with a toothbrush and dishwashing liquid, he saw the text on the piece that looks like brass, he said.

The find was a surprise because the couple have lived in their Daytona Street house so long, they said.

They have owned their house since they bought it from Christina Ries' parents in 1971; Christina Ries was raised there. The house was built in 1905.

Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662 or tparrish@tribweb.com.

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