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The Year 1884 in History

In the 1884 presidential election New York Governor Grover Cleveland was swept to the first Democratic party victory since Buchanan won in 1856. Leading contender James G. Blaine, long-term congressman from Maine, known as the

"Plumed Knight,' was defeated by the political slogan, 'Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion."

John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Trust controlled 80% of the petroleum output from American wells, and effectively controlled the rates of railroads shipping oil, and set prices at the retail level as well. Trusts were becoming a way of life, and during the next quarter century many industries sought to increase profits at the expense of the public by forming trusts or monopolies. In Dayton, Ohio, John H. Patterson bought control of the National Manufacturing Company, which had improved the Ritter cash register (1879) by adding a cash drawer and a bell. The National Cash Register Company would buy up numerous competitors, and force others out of business by lawsuits, soon creating a monopoly.

The Linotype machine was patented by Ottmar Mergenthaler. This mechanical device was operated from a typewriter-like keyboard and created metal molds in which slugs, representing lines of type, were set. The Linotype would be a fixture on the American scene for most of the next 100 years.

In the field of entertainment, visitors to the New York seaside resort at Coney Island were enchanted by a new type of amusement device, the roller coaster, erected by L.A. Thompson, who would soon control much of Coney Island and would become famous as an amusement park supplier. Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published.

At the Philadelphia Mint the Trade dollar either had its swan song the previous year, 1883, or was having it now, in 1884, or would have it the next year, in 1885, depending upon oneís interpretation of history. The August 1884 issue of Masonís Monthly Illustrated Coin Collectorís Magazine offered for sale a group of 200 Proof sets from 1860 to 1883, containing from one to 45 sets (the latter in the case of 1878) of each year, the lot for $800. The same issue offered an "1804" dollar for sale, "bearing a close resemblance..to the original dollar of 1804;but, as the piece is doubted by some experts, we will sell it for $50."