Coinage of the Americas Conference at the American Numismatic Society, New York City
October 29, 1994
© The American Numismatic Society, 1995
Much of the history of the Higley coppers is still based on legend rather than documented sources. No contemporary reference to their manufacture or use is known. The earliest reference I have been able to locate is a drawing in The Library Company of Philadelphia (fig. 1). This is the work of Pierre Eugène Du Simitière, probably drawn in the 1770s.1 This voracious collector had seven Higley coppers, which he referred to as "deer money." Even then he could not find all varieties in good enough condition to make out the legends.
1. Pierre Eugène Du Simitière Papers , Vol. 3, Item 39b (courtesy, Library Company of Philadelphia).
Numismatists have been trying to fill in the blanks in our knowledge about these intriguing coppers for over two centuries. Even their name can be misleading. They are often known as Granby coppers despite the fact that Granby did not exist until 1786 and the site of the mines has been in East Granby since Granby was divided in 1858. In the 1730s the mine which is the purported source of the Higley coppers was in Simsbury.
We have no reason to doubt the evidence on the coins themselves. They were made in Connecticut between the years of 1737 and 1739. Beyond that, what is known about copper from Connecticut?
It is well documented that copper was discovered in Simsbury, Connecticut in 1705. The Simsbury Town Clerk still has the records of town meetings during this era. At a town meeting in December 1705, it was decided to appoint two men to pursue a report of the discovery of "either silver or copper" in the town.2 In May 1707, the town organized what was the first copper mining company in the colonies. These proprietors tried to lease the mines and receive royalties on copper produced but five years of disputes ensued and it appears that while development of the mines did start, no significant production occurred during the period.
In 1712 a new 30-year lease was signed with Rev. Timothy Woodbridge, Jr. of Simsbury, William Partridge of Newbury, Massachusetts, and Jonathan Belcher of Boston (later Governor of Massachusetts and New Hampshire and then Governor of New Jersey).
Soon after the 1712 lease was signed, development of Copper Hill began. Housing for miners was built as well as a stamping mill for crushing ore. Belcher traveled to England and returned with 12 miners and a refiner. Perhaps to have oversight of the refining, he set up the refinery in Boston and had the ore transported to the Connecticut River and then by ship to Boston. Supposedly because of insufficient volume, he decided to shut this refinery and simply send the ore directly to Bristol, England, for refining after about 1720.
By 1717, Belcher had bought out his father-in-law and Rev. Woodbridge had sold his share to Jaheel Brenton of Rhode Island and two New York City City merchants, Charles Crommeline and Elias Boudinot, an ancestor of the Director of the U.S. Mint by that name.
The other lessees operated somewhat independently of Belcher and organized a refinery in Simsbury. They hired a refiner from Philadelphia, John Hoofman, and also brought over skilled workers from Germany.
While there is no indication that great riches ever came out of any Simsbury mines, large sums were definitely spent to develop them. Belcher complained of losses and mentioned that he invested £15,000 over the 30 years he was involved with these mines (1712-41). This amount corresponds to just over $1 million in current dollars.3 When the 30-year leases expired, mining activity ceased for decades since nobody thought the endeavor would be profitable.
During this period the copper mines in Simsbury were not the only ones in the colonies and probably not the largest. The Schuyler mine in New Jersey (which shipped its ore to Bristol, England) had produced 1,400 tons of ore by 1731.4 This point is important because, while the Simsbury Copper mining experience is a milestone, perhaps the most significant part of this story is not about copper but about steel.
This is where Samuel Higley enters the picture. Higley was born in 1687, the son of a wealthy merchant who had moved to Simsbury in 1684. He was well educated and apparently studied medicine with Samuel Mather and Thomas Hooker.5 In 1714, he received land from his father's estate and he built a house on the property when he married in 1719. In 1728, the General Court granted Higley the exclusive right to make steel in the Colony for a period of 10 years.6 Higley did not have the first copper mine in the colonies. He didn't even have the first copper mine in his town. There is no indication that his steel-making ever became a successful commercial venture, but he may well have been the first skilled enough at the wide variety of tasks required to make steel, make tools from that steel, and use those tools to make coins.
In 1728, Higley bought 143 acres about 1.5 miles south of Copper Hill. We know that copper was mined on that land. We also know that Higley was considered enough of an expert that, in 1732, when there was a dispute about the quality of ore coming from Copper Hill, Belcher called Samuel Higley to Boston to resolve the matter.7 However, Belcher accused Higley of dishonesty, saying he had found the ore to contain 25% copper when he analyzed it in Simsbury but only when 15% copper when he analyzed the same batch of ore for Belcher in Boston. Belcher often complained about his losses from this mining investment, a fact which may have colored this accusation.
It is fortuitous that someone as prominent as Belcher was associated with copper mining in Simsbury because many of his letters
have been saved. Perhaps the only contemporary reference we still have to Higley's mining activity is in a letter from Belcher.
In 1733, he wrote to his attorney, who lived in
I find after all the mines at Simsbury are not worth the working – It had been well for me those works had ceased
some years ago, but it avails very little to look back – I observe Higley is very slow, and dilatory in the
business – having made out only one ton of ore to this day, and there are but three months more before the winter will be
upon him, so he
may perhaps make out in a whole year 2 or 3 tons of ore – which is a poor story – I am indeed sick of all this affair and
the sooner it is
entirely at an end the better.
Unfortunately, while there are approximately 90 Belcher letters referring to Simsbury copper over the three decades he was involved in the mines, none are known from the period May 1735 to August 1739. Hopefully, some of Belcher's letters from this critical period will eventually be found.
So why do we believe that these copper tokens are indeed the work of Samuel Higley? Basically, we have two lines of evidence. First, family lore. Not to be totally discounted, but neither should these legends be considered totally reliable. Second, his known ability as a steelmaker. While many people in Simsbury were skilled metalworkers, most would have been familiar only with copper or iron work. Striking coins required the ability to work with steel. The evidence points to Samuel Higley. His will was written in 1734 and mentions his mine but nothing about coining equipment. He is believed to have died in 1737, so who struck the 1739 coppers remains a question. A number of sources have claimed that Higley's work was continued by his elder brother, John, Jr., and various other associates. None of these claims has been substantiated. If Samuel Higley died in 1737, the minter of the later issues is still a mystery.
While there is still much historical work remaining to be done on the origins of these coppers,9 we do have dozens of the coins themselves to study. Preliminary results of a metallurgical analysis are presented here, followed by a description of the coins by die varieties and a census of the specimens held in both public and private collections.
Another avenue of research I have undertaken on the Higleys is neutron activation analysis. I have done this work in collaboration with Adon Gordus at the University of Michigan. Basically, we rubbed about 10 micrograms of copper off the edge of a Higley (museums are typically more receptive to this procedure than collectors) and put the rubbing in a nuclear reactor where it was bombarded with neutrons. A small proportion of the atoms of many metallic elements are changed into radioactive isotopes and the energy of the radiation given off is measured which allows determination of the elemental composition of the piece being studied. We looked at genuine Higleys, some suspected fakes, ore I collected from Higley's mine, and contemporary British copper coins. We hoped that the Connecticut ore would have some trace elements which would allow us to distinguish British from American copper. While the analysis was useful for detecting fakes, all the genuine copper coins of the period were roughly similar in elemental composition. But we did debunk the myth that Higleys are rare because they are pure copper and thus were used by goldsmiths for alloying. All the early eighteenth-century copper coins were over 95% copper (mostly 98-99%). The one caveat is that our analysis could not detect tin. For this study therefore, all specimens analyzed were assumed to contain no tin. If Higleys were perceived as purer, it may have been a eighteenth-century myth that led to their selective use by goldsmiths, not an eighteenth-century fact. Further study of the elemental composition of Higley coppers and other contemporary coppers coins should be done using techniques which can detect tin.
In addition to studies of the elemental composition of these Coppers, I believe that other metallurgical studies would be fruitful. There remain many questions about the manufacture of these intriguing tokens. Exactly how were they struck? How many impressions were made from a given die? How were planchets cut and annealed? Were double-struck coins annealed between strikes? Were any dies made after Samuel Higley's death? Who struck these Coppers after his death and why did they eventually stop?
Finally, what was the role of these tokens in local economic life? What was the geographic range of their circulation? How many years did they circulate? The die numbering system I have used continues long held assumptions about the order of striking, based mainly on the legends on these coppers. But were these legends really responses to the acceptance, or lack thereof, of the first Higley coppers on which he tried to annoint upon a half pence worth of copper the value of 3 pence? All in all, the Higley coppers represent a significant chapter in the economic and industrial growing pains of this country. As we learn more about them, we also learn more about economic and technological changes which were simultaneously occuring on the larger scale more commonly considered by historians studying colonial America.
The following abbreviations are used in the descriptive listings: ANS 1914 Exhibition of United States and Colonial Coins (New York City, 1914)
|Chapman||H. Chapman, "The Colonial Coins of America Prior to the Declaration of Independence, July 4th, 1776," The Numismatist 1916, pp. 101-10.|
|Crosby||Sylvester S. Crosby, The Early Coins of America (Boston, 1875).|
|Ellsworth||John E. Ellsworth, Simsbury: Being a Brief Historical Sketch of Ancient and Modern Simsbury (Simsbury, 1935).|
|Kenney||Richard D. Kenney, "Struck Copies of Early American Coins," Coin Collector's Journal 141 (1952), pp. 1-16.|
|Parker||Wyman W. Parker, Connecticut's Colonial and Continental Money, Connecticut Bicentennial Series 18 (Hartford, 1976).|
|Wood||Howland Wood, "A New Variety of the Higley Coppers," The Numismatist 1913, pp. 380-82.|
Crosby knew of 10 varieties from 6 obverse and 5 reverse dies.10 Two new dies and five additional die marriages have been discovered since. All of the genuine dies as well as the Bolen copy are illustrated. In this listing, obverse dies are numbered; reverses are assigned letters. A type known from multiple dies is assigned a second character. This allows the addition of new discoveries which may be made in the future (e.g. a second die of "The Wheele Goes Round" type would be known as 4.2 and the die now known would be changed from 4 to 4.1).
Type 1 Deer surrounded by legend "THE VALVE OF THREE PENCE" Three dies known (1.1 is the obverse of Crosby 17; 1.2 is the obverse of Crosby 18 and 19; 1.3 was unknown to Crosby and apparently discovered by Chapman [fig. 2]).
The right end of the horizontal line beneath the deer is a useful diagnostic, being between "N" and "C" on 1.1, at "C" on 1.2 and hitting "C" on 1.3. The left end of this line is at the edge of the letter "H" on die 1.1 and 1.3 while it points at the center of the letter "H" on die 1.2.
The location of the word "THREE" relative to this line is also useful. On die 1.2 the letters "EE" sit right on the line, while on 1.1 and 1.3, no letters touch the line. The location of the deer's hind legs relative to the dot beneath distinguishes 1.1 (on which the dot is somewhat in front of a point directly below the foot) from 1.2 and 1.3 (on which the dot is directly below the foot). Finally, the spacing of the letters "PEN" differs among the three dies.
The position of the horns is another diagnostic. On die 1.1 the right horn points between "O" and "F", while on 1.2 it points a bit further to the right, i.e. the left edge of "F". While this distinction is small, this horn can be more easily used to distinguish 1.1 and 1.2 from on 1.3, where it is seen to point to the middle of "F".
The Bolen copy made in the mid-nineteenth century is an imitation of die 1.2. There are, however, a number of significant differences. The circle around the deer is complete on the Bolen copy. The copy also has a dot in the C on PENCE. Some worn Bolen copies are known, but even these are readily distinguishable (fig. 3).
Type 2 Deer surrounded by legend "VALVE ME AS YOU PLEASE"
Note the use of V twice in "VALVE". See description of obverse Type 3 for list of differences which can be used to distinguish between Type 2 and Type 3 on specimens on which this letter is either worn or not struck well.
One die known (this die is the obverse of Crosby 20 as well as one marriage unknown to Crosby [fig. 4]).
Type 3 Deer surrounded by legend "VALUE ME AS YOU PLEASE" Three dies known (3.1 is the obverse of Crosby 21 and 23; 3.2 is the obverse of Crosby 22 and 24; 3.3 is the obverse of Crosby 25 and 26; 3.2 and 3.3 are also found in one die marriage each unknown to Crosby [fig. 5]).
If the word "VALVE" is not sharp, Type 3 may be distinguished from Type 2 by other diagnostics. The star is rotated differently and there is a dot between "PLEASE" and the star which follows it. In addition, on Type 2, the spaces between the words "ME AS YOU" are greater than the spaces between these words on all three dies of Type 3. There is also a distinctive die cud in the field of die 2.
Distinguishing between the 3 dies of Type 3 is difficult because so many specimens are well worn. The most useful diagnostic features are the positioning of the letter "L" in PLEASE and the position of the deer's horns. Also useful is the position of "III" relative to the line above. On 3.1 the line is a single broad line while on 3.2 and 3.3 it is a double line. On 3.2 the first and third "I" touch the line above, while none touch on 3.1. (On one impression of 3.2 [in the ANS], "III" does not touch the line above. Therefore this is not a result of die cutting but rather the Roman numerals were so close to the line that this thin piece of metal did not last long and broke off the die.)
Finally, on die 3.3, there are only two arcs below "III", with more on 3.1 and 3.2.
Type 4 Wheel surrounded by legend "THE WHEELE GOES ROUND" One die known (unknown to Crosby; discovered by Wood [fig. 6]).
Given that all features of this die are dramatically different than all other dies no diagnostic details are needed.
Type A Three crowned hammers surrounded by legend "CONNECTICVT 1737"
One die known (A is the reverse of Crosby 17 and 18 [fig. 7]).
The reverse of the Bolen copy is an imitation of die A. The Bolen has an extra bead in the band on the crowns, and since most Bolens are in much better condition than most genuine Higleys this feature is virtually always quite distinct (fig. 8).
Type B Three crowned hammers surrounded by legend "I AM GOOD COPPER 1737"
Two dies known (B.a is the reverse of Crosby 19, 21, and 22; B.b is the reverse of Crosby 20 [fig. 9]).
Even if all the legends were missing, Type A can be distinguished from B by the longer and thinner hammer handles on A and the different relative positions of the hammers.
B.a can be distinguished from B.b using spacing of letters in the legend: "OP" is farther apart on B.a while "PP" is closer on B.a. In addition, "1737" is spaced wider on B.a and the dot before the hand is lower on B.a (i.e. closer to the center of the coin). The dot after "COPPER" is lower and further away on B.a (relative to the letter "R"). Finally, the ornament between "COPPER" and "1737" is smaller on B.a and also somewhat different in design.
Type C Broadaxe surrounded by legend "J CUT MY WAY THROUGH" One die known (C is the reverse of Crosby 23, 24, and 25 [fig. 10])
Most specimens show a die break at the letter "T". One specimen known without this die break is of variety 3.1-C, therefore yielding information about emission sequence; 3.2-C and 3.3-C are later uses of this reverse die since all impressions show the die break.
Type D Broadaxe surrounded by legend "J CUT MY WAY THROUGH 1739" One die known (D is the reverse of Crosby 26 [fig. 11]).
Even if the date is worn or not struck up, Type D can be distinguished from Type C by the position of the legend relative to the broadaxe. The handle points to the letter "Y" on Type C and to the letter" T" on Type D.
Attributing Higley coppers can be time consuming on worn specimen. In addition, a number of specimens are known which have been double struck. Given the uneven planchets, I believe that many of these double strikes are not errors but attempts to improve coins which did not receive an adequate initial impression. When using relative position of design elements, one should be aware of whether or not the coin at hand is double struck as this will, of course, affect alignment of elements from the two strikes. The fact that the second strike often leaves much of the first impression visible indicates that the faces of the two dies were often not quite parallel. This suggests that these coppers were hammer struck, though further study is neccesary to determine whether the dies were hinged together to provide some degree of alignment or whether the dies were completely unattached.
There is one specimen which presents another mystery. The ANS owns a copper which looks unlike any other Higley (fig. 12). This may be a counterfeit or a reengraved piece but differs so dramaticaly in quality of engraving that it is difficult to imagine that it is from the same hand as any of the other Higley coppers. Further study of this specimen is warranted to determine the method and date of its manufacture as well as the identity of its maker.
From these 8 obverse and 5 reverse dies, 15 die marriages are known to date, of which Crosby knew of 11. Listed below are the die marriages known to Crosby, keyed to the illustration numbers on his plate 8, and those marriages discovered by others since. A listing of a census of individual specimens is found in Appendix 1.
|1.3-A||Discovered by Chapman before 1916|
|2-B.a||Discovered by Freidus in 1985|
|3.3-B.a||Discovered by Dr. Hall (marginal note in his copy of Crosby in the ANS, indicating that he knew of 3.3-B.a and apparently owned a specimen)|
|3.2-D||Discovered by Freidus in 1985|
|4-C||Discovered by Wood|
The following census information should be considered a snapshot of a process rather than a definitive finished product. There are Higleys which I have been told of but which I cannot verify because I have seen neither the coin nor its photograph. Surely there are also those which have not even come to my attention. Readers who know of specimens not included in this census are asked to contact the author through the ANS.
A name followed by a number indicates a specimen's owner and lot number if sold at auction or accession number if owned by an institution. If sold at auction, the cataloger and date of the sale follow in parentheses. An asterisk following an entry indicates the steward of a specimen at the time of this writing. Entries followed by a dash indicate that the current location is not known to the author.
|1.1-A||1) Crosby:948 (Haseltine 6/27/1883); Newman* (Crosby 17 [plate coin])|
|2)Jenks:5431 (H. Chapman, 12/7/21); Stack's 10/20/87, 23 – (10.37 g)|
|1.2-A||1) Connecticut Historical Society* (Parker, p. 24)|
|2) Bushnell: 189 (S.H. and H. Chapman 6/20/1882); Zabriskie:34 (H. Chapman 6/3/09); SI*|
|3) Fleischer:477 (Stack's 9/7/79) – (9.66 g)|
|4) Parmeee:274 (New York City Coin and Stamp 6/25/1890) —|
|5) Mayflower 3/29/57, 1626 —|
|1.3-A||1) Connecticut State Library:8675* (8.25 g, 2 holes)|
|2) Picker:98 (Stack's 10/24/84; anonymous collector|
|3) Roper:l48 (Stack's 12/8/83; Groves* (7.76 g)|
|4) Woodward 3/13/1865, 2594; Heman Ely: 1054 (Woodward 1/8/1884); Massamore; Garrett:1303 (Stack's 10/1/80); Roper: 149 (Stack's l2/8/83)—(9.80 g, plugged)|
|6) H.M. Sturges (1954); Simsbury Historical Society*|
|1.2-B.a||1) Bushnell:190 (S.H. and H. Chapman 6/20/1882); Parmelee – (kenney, p. 9)|
|2) Norweb:1238 (Bowers and Merena 10/12/87); Linett (10.05 g)|
|2-B.a||1) Krugjohann:23 (Bowers and Ruddy 5/14/76); Roper: 150 (Stack's 12/8/83); N.Y. dealer; anonymous collector – (10.05 g)|
|2) Newman* (10.09 g)|
|2-B.b||1) Parmelee:276 (New York City Coin and Stamp 6/25/1890); Mitchelson; Connecticut State Library:8666* (7.10 g)|
|3.1-B.a||1) Hall:28 (Stack's 5/15/45); H.M. Sturges (1954); Simsbury Historical Society*|
|2) Zabriskie:35 (H. Chapman 56/3/09); Connecticut Historical Society*|
|3) Bascom:41 (H. Chapman 1/16/15); Ellsworth (3/23); Garrett:1304 (Bowers and Ruddy 10/1/80) – (9.34 g)|
|4) Colvin:106l (Numismatic Gallery 8/25/42); Robison:60 (Stack's 2/10/82); Stack's FPL 1989, C65 (8.01 g)|
|5) Mickley:2405 (Woodward 10/28/1867); Stevens; Bushnell:191 (S.H. and H. Chapman 6/20/1882); SI* (8.66 g)|
|6) Newman* (9.23 g)|
|7) Jackman:72 (H. Chapman 6/28/18) —|
|8)Mayflower 10/12/57, 4 —|
|3.2-B.a||1) Crosby:949 (Haseltine 6/27/1883); Parmelee; DeWitt Smith (12/08); Brand:953 (Bowers and Merena 6/18/84) – (Crosby 22 [plate coin])|
|2) Roper: 151 (Stack's 12/8/83); N.Y. dealer – (8.62 g)|
|3) ANS* (8.18 g)|
|4) New Netherlands 7/21/76, 812; Groves*|
|5) Norweb: 1239 (Bowers and Merena 10/12/87) —|
|3.3-B.a||1) Jackman:71 (H. Chapman 6/28/18) —|
|2) Stack's 12/7/79, 23; Cowden:913 (Stack's 12/1/93) – (9.75 g)|
|3.1-C||1) Sarah Sofia Banks (1818) - BM* (8.53 g)|
|2) Picker (1969); Park: 136 (Suck's 5/26/76) —|
|3) Lauder:163 (Doyle 12/15/83; [Arnold-Romisa]:579 (Bowers and Merena 9/17/84); Stack's FPL 1992, 220 – (9.64 g)|
|4) ANA auction (Kagin's 8/16/83; Early American Numismatics; anonymous collector*|
|5) Connecticut State Library:8665 (9.54 g)|
|3.2-C||1) Miller: 1799B (Elder 5/26/20); Garrett: 1305 (Bowers and Ruddy 10/1/80); Picker – (10.51 g)|
|2) Bushnell: 192 (S.H. and H. Chapman 6/20/1882); SI* (8.35 g)|
|3) Gschwend:45 (Elder 6/15/08); S.H. Chapman; Robison:6l (Stack's 2/10/82; Stack's FPL Fall 1983, 594; Superior 1/30/84, 20; Stack's FPL June 1986 – (ANS 1914. Numerous electrotypes of this specimen exist)|
|4) C. Hawley; Anton; Roper: 152 (Stack's 12/8/83; Anton; anonymous collector – (9.84 g)|
|5) Merkin 9/11/74, 250; Bowers and Ruddy, Rare Coin Review 22, 23, 24, 25 (1975, 1976); Kriesberg 10/24/78, 25; Early American Numismatics ("Buy or Bid" 7/85) – (9.64 g)|
|6) Sarah Sofia Banks (1818); BM* (9.72 g)|
|8) Jackman:73 (H. Chapman 6/28/18) —|
|3.3-C||1) Zabriskie:39 (H. Chapman 6/3/09); Picker:99 (Stack's 10/24/84) – (7.13 g)|
|2) Zabriskie:40 (H. Chapman 6/3/09); Norweb (1982); SI* (10.17 g)|
|3) DeWitt Smith (12/08; Brand:954 (Bowers and Merena 6/18/84); anonymous collector*|
|4) Stickney:97 (H. Chapman 6/25/07) – (10.11 g)|
|3.2-D||1) Bushnell: 193 (S.H. and H. Chapman 6/20/1882); Ellsworth; Garret:1307 (Bowers and Ruddy 10/1/80; [Sonderman]:19 (Stack's 5/2/85); Freidus* (7.74 g)|
|2) Connecticut State Library:8668* (9.42 g)|
|3) Zabriskie:4l (H. Chapman 6/3/09); Newcomer; Newman* (9.69 g)|
|4) Norweb:1240 (Bowers and Merena 10/12/87) – (8.28 g)|
|5) Col. Green; Mayflower 3/29/57, 1628; Oeschner:9277 (Stack's 9/8/88) – (9.10 g)|
|3.3-D||1) Massachuettss Historical Society:84 (Stack's 3/29/73; Steinberg: 51 10/17/89); Early American Numismaticss FPL 12/93; Long Island collector* (11.11 g; plugged; reverse used for Crosby 26—plate is of electrotype, so hole not evident.)|
|2) Connecticut Historical Society*|
|3) Zabriskie:42 (H. Chapman 6/3/09) – (6.16 g)|
|4) Zabriskie; ANS* (8.40 g)|
|5) Brand; [Breisland:8311 (Stack's 6/20/73); Roper: 153 (Stack's 12/8/83); Groves* (8.55 g)|
|6) Morris; Jenks:5432 (H. Chapman 12/7/21) – (8.00 g)|
|7) NASCA 11/77, 58; Early American Numismatics ("Buy or Bid") Summer 1985, 125 (10.72 g)|
|4-C||1) Wood; Garrett: 1306 (Bowers and Ruddy 10/1/80); Roper: 154 (Stack's 12/8/83); Groves*|
Joel J. Orosz, The Eagle That is Forgotten. Pierre Eugène Du
Simitière, Founding Father of American Numismatics (Wolfeboro, NH,
1988), p. 25, fig. 2.
Thanks are due to the many people who have given freely of time and information, including Eric P. Newman, Anthony Terranova, Joel Orosz, Alan Weinberg, Donald Groves, and many librarians, curators, and directors of museums and historical societies as well as other anonymous collectors and dealers. Some remain anonymous according to their wishes, others are temporarily relegated to that status by my faulty memory.
|2||Creel Richardson, A History of the Simsbury Copper Mines, Ms. (Trinity College, Hartford, 1928), p. 1 (citing unpublished Simsbury Town Records).|
|3||John J. McCusker, How Much is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States (Worcester, MA, 1992), pp. 323-32 (Table A-2).|
|4||James A. Mulholland, A History of Metals in Colonal America (University, AL, 1981), p. 46.|
|5||Mary J. Springman and Betty F. Guinan, East Granby: The Evolution of a Connecticut Town (Canaan, NH, 1983), p. 23.|
|6||Lucius I. Barber, A Record and Documentary History of Simsbury (Simsbuy, CT, 1931), p. 384 (citing unpublished Connecticut Colonial Records, vol. 7, p. 174).|
|7||Richardson (above, n. 2), p. 51.|
|8||Richardson (above, n. 2), p. 57 (citing an unpublished letter in the collection of The Massachusetts Historical Society.|
|9||In addition to works cited above, the following have been consulted in the preparation of this study:
Albert C. Bates, Sundry Vital Records of and Pertaining to the Present Town of East Granby, Connecticut 1737-1886 (Hartford, 1947);
Mary C. Johnson, The Higleys and Their Ancestry (New York City, 1896);
Alice H. Jones, Wealth of a Nation To Be (New York City, 1980);
John D. Perin, Geology of the Newgate Prison Mine of East Granby , Ms. (University of Connecticut, Storrs, 1976);
Edwin J. Perkins, The Economy of Colonial America, 2nd ed. (New York City, 1988);
Noah A. Phelps, History of Simsbury, Granby and Canton, from 1642 to 1845 (Hartford, 1845);
Lawrence Scanlon, "A New Look at an Old Map," The Lure of the Litchfield Hills 45 (1974, pp. 28-37;
Mary K. Talcot, Collections of The Connecticut Historical Society, Vol. 5, The Talcott Papers. Correspondence and Documents (Chiefly Official) During Joseph Talcott's Governorship of the Colony of Connecticut, 1724-174. Part 2, 1737-41 (Hartford, 1896).
|10||Sylvester S.Crosby, The Early Coins of America (Boston, 1875), pp. 324-26.|
Coinage of the Americas Conference at the American Numismatic Society New York City
October 29, 1994
© The American Numismatic Society, 1995
Coins and tokens provide the evidence not only for portraits, but also for vanished edifices.1 The most spectacular example of this is the Colosseum sestertius issued under the Emperor Titus, which shows us the Colosseum as a perfect circle, with the crowds inside, and on the outside, the baths of Titus and a column, the Meta Sudans (fig. 1), which survived until the 1930s but was then destroyed by Benito Mussolini. Ironically, although we have a good idea of how the 2,000 year-old Colosseum looked, we have many problems when we try to figure out how the New York City Theatre looked, which is less than 200 years old. I have been assured by a Roman numismaist,2 however, that it is far easier to reconstruct these buildings when there are substantial remains, as in the case of the Colosseum.
In the case of the Theatre at New York City token, not only is there disagreement as to the appearance of the actual building, but there is disagreement as to which building is represented. John and Damia Francis concluded the token showed the First Park Theatre, and Walter Breen adopted their conclusions in his Encyclopedia 3 Francis W. Doughty,4 however, argued at a meeting of the American Numismatic Society on February 17, 1886, that the building depicted on the token is not the First Park Theatre, but rather the John Street Theatre.5 Recently Michael J. Hodder has revived this argument, who, when he reviewed the ANS benefit auction by Stack's in the C4 Newsletter, said, "The Theatre at New York City token is correctly described as showing the John Street Theatre, not the Park Theatre as had been believed before (and as is in the Red Book and Breen)."6 This revision has been incorporated into the 1995 edition of the Guide Book of United States Coins (the Red Book).7
The Theatre at New York City token has had an unfortunate cataloguing history.
Cataloguers of the British token coinage of the eighteenth century have rejected it as American; cataloguers of early American
coins have rejected it as British. James Conder, one of the earliest cataloguers of the tokens of the late
eighteenth century, commented about American pieces,
I have in my possession fifty-five different American pieces, some minted there, and
others in Great Britain; several of which, circulated in this country, were improperly included in the lists that
have been published, as the Medalet of "Washington," "United States," "New York City Tokens;" but such are
wholly omitted in this arrangement. They may be collected as American Pieces, but can never be regarded as British.8
James Atkins in 1892 followed Conder's arrangement and did not include these tokens.9 Richard Dalton and Samuel H. Hamer, fortunately, did include the Theatre at New York City token in their catalogue of 1910 (Dalton-Hamer.Middx.l67), as did R. C. Bell in 1978 (Bell.S.40), although Bell calls it a "problem piece."10
In the American literature, Crosby did not include this token, although he did include the Franklin Press token—which is another Conder token. Although shunned by the reference books, the token appeared occasionally at important U.S. auctions. The earliest appearance I have found was the McCoy auction by Woodward (1864), where the token realized $21, being sold to Levick. 11 This same specimen was sold in Woodward's auction of Levick's collection of 1884, which had a photographic plate as frontispiece.12 This is the earliest illustration I have found; however, it depicted only the obverse of the token (as did the plate in the John Story Jenks sale auctioned by Henry Chapman in December 1921).13 The token was accepted into the American series as the result of the work of Dr. Benjamin P. Wright and Edgar H. Adams. In The Numismatist for October 1899, Wright listed the token we know and the muling in tin of the Theatre at New York City token and the "Antient Scottish Washing" reverse. Wright gave them variety numbers Wright. 1130 and Wright 1130A. Wright also published a crude but fairly accurate line drawing of the token and the muling; although the obverse appeared in the photographic plate of the Levick sale, this is the earliest illustration of the reverse and the muling.14 Adams was charged by the New York City Numismatic Club with editing a list of New York City storecards. This work began by reprinting in 1913 the listing of New York City State storecards which had been published in the Coin Collector's Journal for 1884-86.15 Neither of these catalogues included the New York City Theatre token. In 1920, however, Edgar H. Adams published a comprehensive catalogue of tokens from all the states, and this did include the New York City Theatre token. Adams probably picked it up from an auction catalogue, such as the auction of the Levick collection, or from Wright's listing.16 Adams listed two varieties: one with a lettered edge (Adams.892; listed in Breen as Breen.1055) and one with a plain edge (Adams.893; Breen. 1056). From there it was introduced into Wayte Raymond's standard coin and token catalogues.17 After Raymond's death his catalogue continued to be published for a few years, although Yeoman's "Red Book" gradually replaced it in the marketplace. The token, however, did not get into the Red Book until the 1972 edition, which appeared in July 1971, and even then it did not rate a photograph—nor has it ever obtained one since.18 Of course, it is much larger than most of the coins listed in the Red Book, so perhaps it took up more space than the book could spare.
The obverse of the token depicts a building with a hexastyle portico (fig. 2), plus further columns on the sides, with the inscription "The Theatre at New York City/America," signed, "Jacobs." Our work is made much easier because of the work of the architect and architectural historian Isaac N. P. Stokes, a trustee and major donor to the New York City Public Library, who was fascinated with early pictures of New York City City and of New York City City buildings. (Stokes was also the architect of the American Geographical Society building on Audubon Terrace.) Stokes is a pioneer of the preservation movement which Ada Louise Huxtable revived with her superb Classic New York City in 1964.19 It was Stokes who hired Berenice Abbott to photograph New York City City buildings threatened with destruction.20 Stokes collected and published six massive volumes identifying views of New York City City and various New York City edifices, and this provides us with a ready-made index of views of New York City City.21 The crucial view is in Longworth's New York City City directory of 1797, which contains a gatefold depicting the New Theatre (fig. 3).22
The inscription of the engraving says, "The New Theatre." We know the date of this engraving, because it was bound in with the city directory of 1797, and it is specifically referred to on the title page of the directory. It is not an accidental binding of two extraneous things. This engraving was intended for the 1797 directory. This theater was new in 1797. The John Street Theatre, which Doughty and Hodder proposed for the token, was built in 1767, and could not be called "the New Theatre" in 1797; in fact, it was referred to at the time as "the Old Theatre."23 The Park Theatre, which was first called the New Theatre, to distinguish it from the John Street Theatre, had its cornerstone laid on May 5, 1795.24 After many delays in construction, it finally opened on January 29, 1798.
New York City City directories in this early period were made to be ready by the fourth of July. They were dated by "the year of American independence." One reason was that May first was "moving day," when many New Yorkers changed their domiciles; and so directories were prepared after that date. We know that the custom of "moving day" already existed in the eighteenth century, because in William Dunlap's play of 1789 (The Father of an Only Child) we find the phrase, "His head is like New-York on May day, all the furniture wandering."25 The preface to David Longworth's New York City City directory of 1796 is signed June 11, 1796.26 In the text of Longworth's 1797 directory, there is a reference to an agreement between the United States and the Spanish consul in Philadelphia on May 17, 179727 so the directory must have been typeset after that; but it would have to be ready in time for July fourth. The engraving therefore shows the theater as it appeared in or before the spring of 1797. The theater was then still under construction; and a careful examination of the engraving reveals that the theater does not yet have a roof: the sunlight is hitting the interior rear wall. We do know when the roof was put on the Park Theatre; the New York City merchant Walter Rutherfurd wrote to his son, John Rutherfurd on October 2, 1796, saying, "Our great buildings make good progress....The Play House is roofed and the States Prison has three hundred men at work on it,"28 which suggests that Tisdale's drawing antedates October 1796. The engraving therefore shows the theater under construction, as it was in the autumn of 1796; this is the New Theatre, which later was called the Park Theatre.
In short, the First Park Theatre attribution, proposed by John and Damia Francis and by Walter Breen, is correct, and the John Street Theatre attribution, proposed by Doughty and revived by Hodder, is wrong.
There are some small differences between the token and the engraving, but Jacob has been fairly faithful, particularly in his depiction of the eagle. Jacob has changed the Corinthian pilasters to Doric ones, and he has omitted the ironwork on the balcony, but generally he has made an almost slavish copy.
The frontispiece depicting the theater in Longworth's 1797 New York City City directory exists in at least two versions. The New York City Public Library copy of the directory has the earlier version, which is signed "Tisdale delin[avit] et sc[ulpsit]." This particular version was already catalogued by Stauffer (Stauffer.3258).29 The American Antiquarian Society copy of the directory has what is probably the second version, which is signed "J. Allen sc[ulpsit] Tisdale del[inavit]," which means that the picture is by Tisdale, but the engraving work was done by Allen.30 Presumably Tisdale first did both the drawing and the engraving, but the engraving was found to be unsatisfactory, whereupon Allen was called in to redo it.
Tisdale is Elkanah Tisdale, a painter and engraver, who spent most of his life in Connecticut but was living in New York City City at this point. Stauffer says that he was born in Lebanon, Connecticut, about 1771, and was still alive in 1834, although this is contradicted by my reading of the census, which leads me to believe that he was born in 1761 and was dead by 1810.31 Tisdale came from a family in Lebanon, Connecticut, who traditionally gave their menfolk names from the Old Testament beginning with the letter "E." The 1790 census lists three Tisdale households in Lebanon, Windham County, Connecticut: Elijah Tisdale, whose household had seven free white males of sixteen and over, including himself, four free white males under sixteen, and seven free white females; Ebenezer Tisdale, who was living with three free white females; and Eliphalet Tisdale, who was living with two free white females. Presumably Elkanah was the son of Elijah, one of the free white males above the age of sixteen in his household. These peculiar names beginning with "E" were thus a family custom, although Old Testament names were common in Lebanon. There were at least two other Eliphalets in Lebanon in 1790; other remarkable Puritan Old Testament names included Amaziah Chappel and Flavel Clark. There was one lady with a more traditional Puritan name: Experience Brewster. Of the 574 families in Lebanon, nineteen owned slaves, most only one or two or three; the one exception was Elijah Mason, senior, who owned 28 slaves, or more than 1% of all the slaves in Connecticut. The 1800 census for Lebanon, Connecticut, showed Ebenezer Tisdale, then aged 45 or more, living with a free white female aged 26-44 and another free white female aged 45 or more; presumably the former was an unmarried daughter, the latter a wife. Elkanah Tisdale headed another household in Lebanon: his household had two free white males aged 10 to 15, one free white male aged 16 to 25, and one free white male, presumable Elkanah himself, aged 45 or over; the free white females included three aged 16 to 25, presumably the daughters, and one aged 45 plus, presumably Tisdale's wife.33 Elkanah Tisdale appears to have been dead by 1810: the 1810 census shows only one Tisdale household in Lebanon, which was headed by Widow Tisdale, aged 45 or more, with two free white males aged 26 to 44, two free white females aged 10 to 15, and one free white female aged 26 to 44, presumably all sons and daughters.34
Lebanon, Connecticut, was a good place to be from; some of the Trumbull family came from there. It does not seem to have been an entertaining place to live, however. When the Duc de Lauzun and his French troops were quartered there during the American War of Independence in 1780, Lauzun commented, "Only Siberia can be compared to Lebanon, which is merely made up of some cabins dispersed among immense forests."35 In the colonial period it was on the direct route between New York City and Boston. The change in that route, and the opening of the Erie Canal, which exposed Connecticut farms to the competition of the Middle West, led to a dramatic fall in the town's population during the nineteenth century.36
Elkanah Tisdale is listed for the first time in William Duncan's New York City City Directory for 1794, which was printed in June 1794. He is then living at 15 New Street, and his occupation is "engraver." He remained there until David Longworth's directory printed in June 1798, whereupon he is listed at 8 John Street and his occupation is given as "miniature painter."37 He is not listed in the 1799 directory or in any other subsequent directories, and biographical sources on Tisdale say that he then moved to Hartford, Connecticut, where he founded the Hartford Graphic & Bank Note Engraving Company.38 Tisdale did another frontispiece for Longworth's directory: the 1796 New York City City Directory has a frontispiece signed "Tisdale," depicting the Tontine City Tavern, with the title below it, "A View of the New CITY TAVERN." Early New York City directories liked to add views and maps of the city as an additional selling point, as yellow page telephone directories do even today.
Tisdale was a good miniaturist, but a poor engraver, which may be why the engraving was given to someone else, namely Joel Allen, who was also from Connecticut. About Joel Allen we know very little. Stauffer says he was born in 1755 at Southington, Connecticut, and died in 1825; he later settled in Middletown, Connecticut. Allen served in the American War of Independence. The only trace I have found of him in the census is in the second census of 1800, which shows him living in Southington,Hartford County, Connecticut. Joel Allen is aged 26 to 45, and heads a household including a free white male aged under 10, another free white male aged 16 to 25, a free white female aged under 10, and a free white female, presumably his wife, aged 26 to 45.39
Allen and Tisdale were both employed in making the engravings for the American edition of George Henry Maynard's translation of the works of Flavius Josephus. This American edition, like many early American editions, used the same sheets as the British edition, but changed the title page (at least twice: for New York City and for Baltimore) and added sixty engraving.40 It is possible that that is how Tisdale and Allen came into contact, but the directory and the edition of Josephus were made for different publishers (Thomas Swords published the directories, William Durrell published Josephus).
There is a drawing which deceived the New York City City theater historian, Professor George C.D. Odell, amongst others, into believing that it was an original. This is a sketch, or very possibly a tracing, of the Tisdale/Allen engraving, which Odell came across in the collection of the New-York Historical Society. It is clearly copied from the Tisdale/Allen engraving, because it uses cross-hatching to represent shadows, which are only needed on an engraving, and are unnecessary for a pencil drawing. It is also slightly cruder than the Tisdale and the Tisdale/Allen engravings.41
Did the engraving faithfully depict the theater? The answer is yes and no. A painting of 1798 by Milbourne shows us what is now Park Row, with the New Theatre, and we can see that the eagle frieze was not used, and that the ironwork on the balcony is slightly more elaborate (fig. 4). I think the engraving had added to it some elements to make the theater appear as if it were finished: the frieze was added, the balcony added, and probably the glass in the windows. But aside from these falsifications, the engraving is a faithful depiction made from a picture done in situ: a comparison of the topography with the engraving shows it to be accurate. On the right of the Tisdale engraving we see the steeple of the North Dutch church, very low down, which is correct, because the streets to the east of Park Row drop steeply toward the East River.
Richard Beamish, the biographer of the theater's architect, Brunel, says of the theater, "The cupola by which it was surmounted is said to have resembled that in Paris over the Corn Market, while in boldness of its projection and in the lightness of its construction it was far superior."42 It is true the theater had a dome, but it was an interior dome, not visible from outside. Beamish's accounts of Brunel's life in the United States are not always reliable, possibly based on inaccurate family anecdotes.
The reverse of the New York City Theatre token depicts two ships at anchor, a bail, an anchor, and a cornucopia, with a blank exergue where we would expect a date (fig. 5). The one type which occurs elsewhere in Jacob's work is the cornucopia; there is a close parallel in the reverse of his penny depicting the House of Commons of 1797 (Dalton-Hamer.Middx.173; fig. 6). On both obverse and reverse the lettering is done by hand, not with punches. This is characteristic of the work of Benjamin Jacob, and is unusual for this period, when most diesinkers used punches. The reverse is found combined with no other token of the period. This is unusual for British tokens of the late eighteenth century (the Conder series), where muling is very widespread. This led Arthur W. Waters, writing in 1954, to suggest that the New York City Theatre token was actually made up for some commercial purpose, rather than just for collectors.43 I shall discuss this question further below.
The edge of the ANS specimen reads, "I PROMISE TO PAY ON DEMAND THE BEARER ONE PENNYx". A different specimen with this same edge reading was auctioned as part of the Colonel Walter Cutting Collection by Lyman H. Low in May 1898.44 The 51st sale of New Netherlands, lot 180, reports that reading.45 Bowers and Ruddy catalogued the Garrett specimen with that readng.46 Stack's reported the Roper specimen as also having that reading.47 Breen, however, gives the edge as "WE PROMISE TO PAY ON DEMAND THE BEARER ONE PENNYx" "as on other Jacobs tokens" and says that "the rumor of two minor varieties remains unconfirmed."48 All the Jacob penny tokens I have examined, however, read "I PROMISE," as in the ANS, Cutting, New Netherlands, Garrett and Roper specimens, not "WE PROMISE." A third potential variety is that catalogued by William E.Woodward as lot 2463 of the Levick sale: "I promise to pay the bearer one penny."49 A fourth possible variety of edge lettering was listed by Henry Chapman in lot 5508 of the Jenks Collection, where he sold a Theatre at New York City token with the edge variety reading, "WE PROMISE TO PAY THE BEARER ONE PENNY."50 Until confirming evidence emerges, it appears that the correct edge reading is "I PROMISE TO PAY ON DEMAND THE BEARER ONE PENNYx" and that Breen, Woodward, and Chapman erred in transcribing the edges.
Many Jacob tokens do show slippage of the edge dies, so that the T of THE is right next to or over the D of DEMAND. This slippage is perfectly possible with New York City Theatre tokens, so cataloguers should keep an eye out for edge errors.
Another possible edge variety is a Theatre at New York City token with a plain
edge. The oldest listing I have found of this is the listing by Edgar H.Adams in 1920 (Adams.NY.893).51
Breen, however, could not confirm the existence of this token, and calls it "unverified." If discovered, one would
have to ascertain that it was a true plain edge, and not filed down. Samuel H. Hamer comments about this pernicious
Charles Pye refers to the Collector who, when he finds it difficult to procure a scarce variety of a coin, by
means of filing and chasing a common impression of the same coin, contrives to patch up an imitation of a rare variety. Unfortunately,
evil which such men do lives after them, and as a result, an unpublished "Plain edge, in collar," may appear. A careful examination
show traces of filing, in which instance the specimen should be regarded as an ordinary one, the edge of which has been tampered
an apparently genuine "Plain Edge in Collar" may have been produced by "turning" the edge in a lathe; but as such treatment
would render the specimen smaller in diameter than the ordinary ones, a comparison will reveal the true character of the piece.52
A further source of varieties is the die axis. Jacob's tokens show much variation in the die axes. The die axis of the ANS specimen of the New York City Theatre token is just slightly off six o'clock, which is presumably the same as that reported for the Norweb specimen, "195 degrees"; any other die axis would be worthy of remark.
Donald Scarinci has estimated that there are at least 14 tokens still extant.53 None of the tokens appears to have experienced any circulation. All are proofs.
There is one mule of this token. This combines the New York City Theatre obverse
with "Antient Scottish Washing." This was listed by Wright as part of his collection, writing,
I have another
with the following reverse: A woman treading clothes in a tub between sprigs of thistles. Inscription, "Antient Scottish
Washing—*Honi.Soit.Qui.- Mal.Y.Pense.*" The metal resembles Tin. This appears as the reverse of the Loch Leven penny. The
edge is plain and
is a remarkable specimen of a unique muling. It has never been published before.55
This specimen passed from Wright to Frederick C.C. Boyd, and was listed by Breen as being in the collection of John J. Ford, Jr. Mules are quite common in the Conder token series—Conder himself disapproved of them as a gimmick —and Peter Skidmore issued many mules, because he came into the dies of Thomas Spence, and then issued tokens muled with his dies, often cut by Jacob, and those of Spence, which are usually more artful. (On Peter Skidmore acquiring Spence's dies, see The Gentleman's Magazine, June 1797.)56 Presumably the mule was created by Peter Skidmore.
The architect of the Park Theatre was Marc I. Brunel, knighted in 1841, famous for his construction of the Thames Tunnel, which opened in 1843 (fig. 7). Fleeing the French Revolution, Brunel arrived in New York City City on September 6, 1793.57 When Pierre Pharoux and Simon Desjardins went upstate to survey land for the Castorland project, a settlementt project for Frenchmen emigrating to the United States, they encountered Brunel in Albany, who proved to be of much assistance.
Numismatists are well acquainted with the Castorland project, because of the very attractive tokens made up to compensate directors for attending board meetings (fig. 8); the silver specimens later circulated, being accepted as the equivalent of a half dollar.58 Backed by a New York City merchant, Thurman, the three French emigrés supervised the construction of a canal from Lake Champlain to the Hudson River.59 Brunel's biographers say that Brunel won the contest to design the United States Capitol, but his design was not carried out because of expense. There is no record of Brunel's design among the contest entries, nor is there any record of his winning the first competition, but the records of that first competition are fragmenary.60 It is possible that Brunel did enter the contest, but it seems unlikely that he could have won it and no record of his name be left among the surviving documents. On August 2, 1796, Brunel swore an oath before the United States District Court of the District of New York City to become a United States citizen.61 Brunel served as chief engineer of the City of New York City and drew up plans for a cannon foundy.62 Brunel won an architectural contest to design the new theater; he had his friend Pharoux, whose plan lost out, do much of the interior decoration.63 When the Theatre was opened, one newspaper named as the architect not Brunel or Pharoux, but the Mangin brothers, of whom Joseph-François would later be one of the architecs of City Hall and old St. Patrick's Church (formerly the Roman Catholic Cathedral) at Mott and Prince streets. Joseph-François and Charles Mangin were also architects of the State Prison erected in Greenwich Village in 1796-97, located north of Christopher Street, between Washington Street and the Hudson River. By 1803 Joseph-François Mangin was also serving as City Surveyor, and drew a map of the city that year.64 All these French emigrants got along very well, and they shared their work; so it is possible that all four men, namely Brunel, Pharoux, and the Mangins, had a hand in the design of the theater. Later Alexander Hamilton hired another French emigrant, Major L'Enfant, to design the defenses of the Narrows, and L'Enfant turned much of the work over to Brunel.65 L'Enfant designed Federal Hall in New York City City, which so impressed Washington that he chose L'Enfant to be the designer of Washington, DC.66
There was a large French emigrant population in New York City City at this time. The number of French refugees increased rapidly in New York City City after the outbreak of the revolution in Saint-Domingue (Haiti) in August 1791. We know of no fewer than two French language newspapers published in New York City City in the 1790s. The first was the short-lived Journal des Révolutions de la Partie Française de Saint-Domingue of 1793. The second began publication on July 6, 1795, under the title of the Gazette Française et Américaine, with alternate columns written in French and English. On July 17, 1795, the publisher was given as John Delafond. On October 2,1795, it was bought and published by Labruere, Parisot & Co. On May 18, 1796, it changed its name to the Gazette Française and thereafter was published wholly in French. From July 2, 1797, it was published by Claude Parisot & Co., who in early 1798 published it at 21 Beekman Street. The last known issue is dated October 4, 1799.67 Brunel would not have approved of the Gazette, for it supported the revolutionary French Republic, and tried to make light of any differences between the United States and France, such as the XYZ affair. (Brunel himself was designing cannon foundries and defenses of the Narrows because the United States and France were on the verge of war.) The Gazette was rather torn; it was pro-Republican, but it was also pro-slavery, for many of its readers were slaveowners. A regular feature was advertisements for runaway slaves. It also has regular advertisements for at least one French bookshop.68 Unfortunately, it makes no mention of Brunel, Mangin, or the opening of the New York City Theatre, preferring to concentrate on news from France and the Caribbean, which is what chiefly interested its readers. They wanted to know when it would be safe to return to their homes. It would have been interesting to learn what Brunel's French contemporaries thought of him. Brunel's biographer Beamish mentions that two other French emigrés found employment at the New Theatre. A nobleman, Baron de Rostaing, acted on the stage; while a barrister, M. Savarin, played in the orchestra—turning the avocations of their past into a gainful employment.69
The important point is that there was a large French population in New York City City in the 1790s, many highly educated and talented, who provided a useful injection of skills for the young United States. The United States certainly needed architects and engineers. Many of these Frenchmen knew each other, and shared the work around.
Brunel is listed in only two years of New York City City directories; in David Longworth's directory of 1797 (published in June 1797) there is an entry for "Brunel's, manufactoy, 17 Murray Street," and in Longworth's directory for 1798 (published in June 1798) there is an entry for "Brunel's, manufactoy, 38 George Street."70 Brunel evidently tried to set up a factory in New York City City making use of some of his inventions, but soon decided he might succeed better in a more developed country, namely Britain. Britain also had the advantage that she was waging war against Brunel's own enemy, revolutionary France. A further reason to leave was the collapse of the Castorland scheme and the accidental drowning of Brunel's friend Pierre Pharoux while crossing the great falls of the Black River, up from Sackets Harbor (near what is now Watertown, New York City)71
Brunel left New York City City in 1799, carrying a letter
of recommendation dated February 6, 1799, from Alexander Hamilton to Rufus King:
This will be delivered to you by Mr. Isambard Brunell, French by birth but Anti-Jacobin by principle, and by
necessity an Inventor of Ingenious Machines. He goes to England to endeavour to
obtain a patent for one, which he has contrived for the purpose of copying. He has a passport from Mr. Liston and
I believe our Secretary of State. This letter is to ask for him such patronage as in your situation and in his may be prope.72
Brunel went to Britain to set up his block machinery, which proved invaluable to the Royal
Navy in the struggle with Napoleon. A happy side-benefit was that the Wood shavings could
be used to make hatboxes and pillboxes, and he established a factory for this purpose in Battersea in 1808, of which Brunel's
biographer Beamish writes:
To these important economic advantages to the public
was added the high gratification to Brunel himself of being able to employ young children in the manufactory. The
love of the young was a distinguishing and abiding feature in Brunel's character, and now, after a few hours'
instruction and one day's practice, he had the happiness to reflect, that for a large number of these special objects of his
had provided the means of earning for themselves an honest and sufficient livelhood.73
The property upon which the Park Theatre was built—Section 1, Block 90—was originally known as the "Vineyards" or the "Governor's Garden." It was subsequently acquired by John White. John White was attainted and his property forfeited (presumably because he was a patriot during the Revolution; New York City was loyalist), but the property was afterward restored to his wife Ann White (widowed by February 1795) who divided the property into lots and made the early conveyances. The names of the Whites are commemorated by John Street, and one block north, Ann Street, notorious as the residence of that tooler of large cents, Smith. On April 14, 1786, Isaac Stoutenburgh and Philip Van Cortlandt, the Commissioners of Forfeiture, made a grant to Ann White of the entire block.74 The lots which became the Park Theatre are lots 6, 7, and 8. There is a map of the property surveyed by Evert Bancker on October 28, 1797, among the New York City City real property libers.75 This shows the theater as a trapezoid, with the part toward Park Row (then called Chatham Row) being rectangular, but the section on Theatre Alley (then called the Mews) being at an angle to the rest of the building. The lot runs 78 feet along Park Row, 130 feet to Theatre Alley, 85 feet southerly along Theatre Alley, and then 165 feet westerly to Park Row.76 William C. Young came across and reproduced an architectural ground plan of the theater in the collection of the New-York Historical Society, ascribed to Brunel, and this attribution seems secure: in every way I could check it, the plan corresponds to the dimensions of the lot and to what we know of how the theater looked, including the northern annex which contained the green room and other rooms for the actors. This annex is visible, to the left, on the Tisdale engraving and on the token.77
The theater sought to extend its portico to cover the sidewalk, and petitioned the Common Council for this on June 1, 1795, but its petition was rejected.78 As can be seen from the token and the Tisdale engraving, the portico as constructed remained flush with the rest of the theater. If the portico had been extended, the theatre would look rather like the buildings on the Rue de Rivoli in Paris, which have porticos which extend over the sidewalk, which may well have been Brunel's inspiration. The plan for the portico would not die, however; John K. Beekman and John Jacob Astor petitioned for it again in 1821, when they rebuilt the theater, and the Streets Committee of the Common Council rejected the plan.79 Permission to extend the portico over the sidewalk (not more than five feet) was finally granted in July 1828, to Edmund Simpson.80
The details of the property are summed up in an indenture recorded in the Real Property Files of the New York City City Register on May 16, 1850, presumably in the course of the settlementt of the Estate of John Jacob Astor, deceased. This document explains that in October 1794, Lewis Hallam and John Hodgkinson proposed the construction of a theater. Each subscriber was to put up $375, which would raise "a sum sufficient for the purposes of purchasing Ground, building a Theatre, and providing Scenery, Machinery etc. for the exhibition of Dramatic entertainments." There were 115 subscribers.81 Each subscriber could receive a free ticket plus interest at 5%, or no free ticket and interest at 7%. $42,700 was raised from the subscribers. Jacob Morton, Carlile Pollock and William Henderson were appointed the trustees. Lots 6,7 and 8 were bought from Ann White for $15,000. On January 1, 1797, because of delays in construction, the builders borrowed more money from Daniel McCormick, Joshua Waddington, John B. Coles, John McVicker and John C. Shaw. They bought from John Hodgkinson his lot for $1,750. Edward Livingstone became an additional trustee. But still more money was needed. The promoters borrowed $20,000 from the Bank of New York City for nine months at 6%; they borrowed $17,000 from the Branch Bank of the United States in the City of New York City, also for nine months at 6%. But the theatre did not make enough money to survive. Furthermore, some of the trustees either went bankrupt or died. On February 10, 1804, the property was auctioned off at the Tontine Coffee House by Thomas Cooper, Master in Chancery, and struck off to McCormick, Waddington, Coles, McVicker and Shaw for $43,000.82 They in turn sold the Theatre plus the Hodgkinson lot to John Jacob Astor and John K. Beekman for $50,000 on April 21, 1806.83
The Theatre opened on January 29, 1798, with a performance of "As You Like It." It was announced by the following advertisement:
THE PUBLIC is respectfully informed, the New Theater will open this evening,
MONDAY, JANUARY 29, 1798,
with an OCCASIONAL ADDRESS, to be spoken by MR. HODGKINSON
And a prelude written by Mr. Milne, called,
ALL IN A BUSTLE, Or, THE NEW HOUSE. The characters by the company. After which will be presented, Shakespear's COMEDY of
AS YOU LIKE IT.
[There followed a listing of the cast.] To which will be added, the MUSICAL ENTERTAINMENT of the
PURSE, or AMERICAN TAR.
Places for the boxes will be let every day at the old office, in John-street, from 10 to 1 o'clock, and on the
play day from 3 to 4 in the afternoon.
Tickets can also be had at the above office any time previous to Monday, 4 o'clock, after which hour they must be applied
for at the Ticket
Office, in the New Theatre.
Subscribers will be made acquainted with the mode adopted for their admission, by application at the Box Office.
The offensive practice to Ladies, and dangerous one to the house, of smoking segars, during the performance, it is hoped,
will consent to an absolute prohibition of.
Ladies and Gentlemen will please direct their servants to set down with their horses heads towards the New Brick Meeting,
and take up with
their heads towards Broad Way.
The future regulations respecting the taking of seats, &c. will be placed in the Box Office, for general information.
The doors will be opened at five, and the curtain drawn at a quarter-past six.
Ladies and gentlemen are requested to be particular in sending servants early to keep boxes.
Boxes, 8s. Pit, 6s. Gallery, 4s. Vivat Respublica.84
The prices are in New York City shillings, which is a very logical monetary system, because one shilling is l2 1/2 Federal cents. In Federal money, it cost a dollar to sit in a box, seventy-five cents to sit in the pit (the orchestra), and fifty cents to sit in the gallery (balcony).
Unfortunately, the contemporary newspaper accounts of the opening confine themselves to describing the interior of the theater. The only remark in the literature which helps us to determine the external appearance of the Park Theatre is the remark by Thomas Allston Brown, "in cold weather two blazing fires were kept up at either end of the lobbies"85 This corresponds to the two chimneys at either end of the building which are visible on the token and the Tisdale engraving. In terms of the overall "feel" of the building, the building which still exists today which best conveys an idea of the First Park Theatre (and of New York City City public edifices of the 1790s) is the church of St. Mark's-in-the-Bouwerie, which is an almost exact contemporary: it was begun in 1795 and consecrated in 1799. (The steeple and the porch are, however, nineteenth century additions.)86
Beamish says that when the theater opened, Brunel constructed a mechanical windmill, in which he and a friend hid; the windmill appeared on stage, and the friend then recited various satires, which revealed an intimate knowledge of the foibles of New York City society. An uproar ensued, and the audience advanced to destroy the windmill, but Brunel maneuvered the machine over a trapdoor, down which he and his friend descended, and they departed that night for Philadelphia.87 Unfortunately, this incident is recorded by none of the American theater histories (such as Odell), which are otherwise very detailed. If this incident did take place, it must have occurred on some night other than January 29, 1798.
Even when it opened in January 1798, the theater was still in an unfinished state. It was only in November 1798, when the theater reopened—its opening was slightly delayed because of a yellow fever epidemic in New York City—that the interior dome was finished by Charles Ciceri, the great scene painter of his day.88
The theater was first called the New Theatre,89 and was on Chatham Row, which led to Chatham Square (named for William Pitt the Elder, the Earl of Chatham, who had had the Stamp Act repealed). It was in a part of the city where everything unwanted had been put: the prison (Bridewell), the Alms House, and the graveyard for African-Americans. This was partly because of the insalubrious swamps surrounding the Fresh Water Pond (Foley Square continues to flood regularly even today). Development was further delayed by the uncertain title to this area, because John White, the landowner, had had his property declared forfeit during the War of Independence. By the 1790s, however, the rest of New York City City had become too built up, so that the only large lots remained in this area to the north of the city. New York City Hospital was built there in 1791, followed by an insane asylum in 1808, which later moved to Bloomingdale (now Columbia University). The construction of City Hall and the development of City Hall Park (with fountains courtesy of the New York City Waterworks) dramatically changed the part of the neighborhood close to Broadway, making it quite fashionable; the area further to the northeast, which flooded, remained notorious as the "Five Points" slums.90 When City Hall Park was developed in the first decade of the nineteenth century, the theater began to be called the Park Theatre and the name of its street was changed to Park Row. At some point, probably before 1806, a remodelling of the outside took place, which eliminated the pilasters. Another addition was a statue of Shakespeare which was set up in the central niche (converted from a window) on the second floor. By 1806, the exterior was very plain, because when the interior was remodelled then by Mr. Holland, the New-York Evening Post praised the interior highly, but added, "We speak of the interior only, for the outside remains just as it was, a standing libel on the taste of the town"91 This simplification of Brunel's design is probably the origin of Ireland's remark, that "It is doubtful if they [Brunel's plans for construction] were ever carried out—that for the exterior, which included a range of fluted pilasters by way of ornament, certainly was not, and for many years the front wall remained perfectly plain and barn-like in appearance"92 This is not correct. The basic design was faithful to the plans of Brunel in its number of stories and windows. The pilasters must have existed at one time, because they are depicted in the Tisdale engraving and independently confirmed by the Milbourne painting. The plainness remembered by Ireland in the 1850s was probably the result of a remodelling done before 1806.
The Theatre had a huge seating capacity—about 2,000. After the theater was remodelled and reopened in 1807, the New-York Evening Post gave the suspiciously accurate figure of 2,372.93 This is about the size of Avery Fisher Hall. The audience in the pit and the gallery did not sit in individual chairs at this period, but rather on backless benches; anyone who has sat in the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford will have a good idea of the seating arrangements of a seventeenth and eighteenth century theater.94
The audience did not spend the entire evening sitting on these uncomfortable backless benches. The programs were very long by modern standards, with two plays an evening, lasting from 6:30 or 7 until 10:30 at night; the texts of the plays were often cut in a quite arbitrary fashion. The lights were not turned out in the auditorium (the Park was only lit by gas after 1827) and the audience could and did wander about, only returning for the great set pieces. Italian opera in this period took account of this foible, including arie di sorbetto, during which the audience could go out for ice cream.
It was very difficult to fill this huge theater; the total population of New York City City (Manhattan only) in 1800 was 60.489,95 which meant the theater could contain 3.3% of the population of the city. In other words, if the theater staged one play for over a month to packed houses, every man, woman and child in the city would have seen it. For a time William Dunlap had some success with his translations of the German playwright (and Russian agent) August von Kotzebue, but Dunlap ended a bankrup.96 Stephen Price, who eventually succeeded Dunlap, filled the theater by resorting to the blockbuster, the star system, importing big names from Europe such as George F. Cooke (November 1810) and Edmund Kean (1820). In 1811, Cooke appeared as Lear at the Park Theatre, opposite John Howard Payne as Edgar.97 At a very early date in New York City City the inhabitants were seeing world class actors. Both Cooke and Kean were over the hill when they came to New York City, having abused alcohol for far too long, but they gave some brilliant performances. Odell has criticized Price for this, saying that the star system destroyed healthy stock companies in New York City City, but it seems unlikely that Price could have filled his theater otherwise. The size of the theater dictated what he had to show.
The one event at the Park Theatre which I would have liked to see was the first New York City performance of Mozart's Don Giovanni on May 23, 1826, with Manuel Garcia's company, including Maria Malibran in the role of Zerlina. What made this performance remarkable is that it was done at the urging and in the presence of the librettist, Lorenzo Da Ponte, who, having proven himself too disreputable for Venice, Vienna, and London, had to live out his final years in New York City City.98
The bustle around the Park Theatre at nighttime was a great annoyance to the neighbors, who complained about parking problems. On December 18, 1815, the neighbors to the theater complained to the Common Council about the hackney carriages parked on their streets when plays were on at the Park Theatre.99
Astor's purchase in 1806 was dictated more by his love of the theater than his sense of profit; in fact, it was an unusual departure from his normal method of property investment, which was to buy vacant lots. It is said of Astor that he "seldom missed a good performance in the palmy days of the 'Old Park'," and even on the evening he learned that his ship the Tonquin had been lost, he still went to the theater, not wishing to abandon his favorite evening's amusement. Thomas A. Cooper, an actor whose best part was Macbeth, leased the theater from Astor for $2,100 quarterly, which he found difficult to pay, so that his surety, Stephen Price, was often called to make up the deficiency. In September 1814, Price told Astor that he would have to give up the theater unless the rent was reduced, arguing that he could get out of his lease because of the War of 1812. Astor refused to consider it.100
Fire is always a danger in theaters, and the Park Theatre was attacked by several fires. The Common Council was
aware of this danger, and in 1803, established Fire Engine House Number 4 in a room at the northeast corner of the theater,
buckets there.101 At one in the morning on May 25, 1820, a disastrous fire burned the First Park Theatre to the ground, and was thus described
New-York Evening Post:
Fire—Just before one o'clock this morning, our inhabitants were alarmed by the
dreadful cry of fire, and it was soon apparent, from the tremendous glare of light that reached to the most remote parts of
the city, that
it proceeded from some building of uncommon size; which proved to be the Theatre. No effort could check its progress, nor
was it possible
to do any thing more than stand by, and witness the complete destruction of the building, and almost every thing it contained.
the enquiries that have been made it is impossible to tell precisely the manner in which it originated. It has, however, been
satisfactorily ascertained, that the first appearance of the fire was near the ridge of the southeast corner of the roof,
and it could not,
therefore, have arisen from any fireworks employed in the course of the entertainments of the early part of the evening, as
has been, by
some, erroneously supposed. Nor is there the least grounds to suppose that it was designedly set on fire, but it must have
been owing to
accident or negligence.
The person, whose constant business it has been for some years, to see every thing is safe, by going about the house from
top to bottom,
after everyone has departed, once before and once after every light is extinguished, had performed that duty last night, as
usual, and lain
down on his bed in his clothes, from which he was rous- ed by the crackling of the fire, and looking up saw the blaze just
making its appearance at the place we have mentioned.
We learn that there was no insurance on the building, and but a partial one on the scenery or other property. The most distressing
falls upon individuals connected with the establishment, whose number we understand to be not less than 200 persons, including
John Jacob Astor at once had the theater rebuilt. This altruistic gesture failed to impress at least one of the wits of the town, who wrote in the New-York Evening Post :But—thanks to those who ever have been known To love the public interest—when their own; Thanks to the men of talent and of trade, Who joy in doing well—when they're well paid, Again our fireworn mansion is rebuilt, Inside and outside, neatly carv'd and gilt, The best of paint and canvas, lath and plaster, The Lord bless B****** and J*** J**** A****.103
This, which is known as the Second Park Theatre, continued to resemble Brunel's design, for the number of windows, of stories, and the portico all remained the same. The superficial appearance was different because of the change in architectural taste: the tops of the windows and porticos were square, rather than round. The statue of Shakespeare remained.104
After the fire of 1820, Price sponsored the appearance of Edmund Kean in a theater on
Anthony Street, and was so successful that in January 1821, he threatened Astor and
Beekman that he would build his own theater unless they complied with his proposals for the reconstruction of the
Park. In May 1821, however, Price signed a lease of the Second Park Theatre at a rent of $
13,000 a year. Henry Brevoort, Astor's nephew, remarked, "The Theatre will be beautiful,
but I fear it will never support such an enormous rent charge." But these fears were unfounded: in 1823 the Park
Theatre was assessed at $80,000, and on September 1, 1828, it was leased to Edmund Simpson for seven years
at an annual rental of $ 16,000; the theater was then estimated to be worth $150,000. The theater was totally remodelled in
1834, after which
it was valued at $200,000. In 1846, however, one of its owners valued it at only $60,000, although this may have been a low
estimate for tax
Astor himself died on March 29, 1848, and he left much of his fortune to establish the library which
eventually became the New York City Public Library. Simpson remained the manager until his death on July 31, 1848, after which the theater was leased to Thomas
Hamblin, who had formerly leased the Bowery Theatre. But the Second Park Theatre
burned to the ground in the early evening of Saturday, December 16,1848. The journalist from the
New-York Evening Post
really appreciated a good fire, writing
At a quarter past six o'clock the scene which was presented to the hundred thousand citizens
congregated in the Park, and the one hundred thousand on the tops of the buildings throughout the city, was one of the grandest
conceivable; the flames leaped and frolicked to the height of at least three hundred feet from the ground and giving forth
a light which
enabled persons at the distance of a mile to read the finest manuscript. The sublimity of the scene was now much increased
by the gloomy
darkness of the night.
The building this time was insured for $80,000. Unfortunately, there was a loss of life in this fire: a fireman named Anderson from Hose Co. No. 33 was struck by a piece of burning timber, and killed. The firemen were given refreshments of meat and coffee and tea in the Astor House and at the "Shakespeare" on Park Row. There was a rumor that William B. Astor would not rebuild the theater, but erect an extensive hotel on the site, which rumor had begun after the death of Simpson. This rumor turned out to be true, in part; the Astor Estate did not rebuild the theater, but they did not build a hotel, either, preferring to sell their interest in the lots.106
The Astors had been remarkably indulgent landlords. In the summer of 1832, a terrible cholera epidemic raged through
New York City City, and the theater was temporarily closed. Three consecutive
rent checks of Edmund Simpson bounced as a result, but William B. (son of John Jacob) decided to overlook the problem, and
wrote to the partner John K. Beekman on
August 4, 1832:
I have received your favor of the 30th Ulto: And will take an early opportunity to get the alteration
in the policies of the Theatre made. —Since I wrote you Mr. Simpson's check for rent has been returned as unpaid
and we have also a second check from him which is unpaid, but which he says he will make good in a day or two: To day we shall
another check so that unless he makes good the checks we already have in the course of this day we shall have three unpaid.
I presume you
willing under the present distressed state of the city to indulge him. Indeed to urge him at present would be I
am sure of no avail. I deposit to day the $1000 to your credit in the Bank of New York
City. My father has bought Coster's lot.
The Astor Estate chose not to rebuild the theater again, and split up the lots, so the three lots (Section 1, block 90, lots 6, 7 and 8) which were occupied by the First and Second Park Theatres are now occupied by two different buildings. The Astor Estate sold most of their interest in the block around 1850, but they continued to have some involvement into the twentieth century. Later theaters were established on Park Row, but they tended to be cinemas, not legitimate theaters. One such cinema was the Park Row Theatre at 923 Park Row. In May 1937, the Park Row Theatre was showing Kay Francis as Florence Nightingale in "The White Angel," with the enticing advertising motto, "She spurned one man's arms...to embrace all humanity!"108
The most adventurous fate remained for lot 6. On January 17, 1908, there is a deed recording a grant from the Park Row Realty Company to Nathaniel M. Rothschild, Alfred C. de Rothschild and Leopold de Rothschild of lots 4-6, 22 1/2, and 25. On July 10, 1909, the same parties engaged in the same transaction, only in the reverse direction.109 We have not examined these deeds in detail, but it is possible that the involvement of the Rothschilds is related to the construction of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company, which was financed by the Rothschilds' U.S. agent, August Belmont, Jr. Belmont served as chairman of the board of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company and of the Rapid Transit Subway Construction Company.110 The IRT would have been hurt by the Panic of 1907, and it is possible that these property transfers are an emergency injection of funds by the Rothschilds into a property subsidiary of the IRT to keep the IRT alive. Some of the sub-basements on Park Row, which are now closed off, extend all the way to the Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall subway station of the east side IRT,111 so it is possible that the IRT planned to extend its stations or tracks eastward to Park Row. The lots on Park Row are currently occupied by branches of J&R, the retailers of computers and other electronic equipment.
Although the First and Second Park Theatres have long disappeared, their site is still remembered by the name of the street which runs between Ann Street and Beekman Street: Theatre Alley. (Unsurprisingly, the two other streets commemorate earlier property owners, Ann White and John K. Beekman.) This street appears on a map drawn in 1796 and published in 1797, but is then called "The Mews."112 (This map also shows the New Theatre and the Old Theatre.) We know that plans were already afoot to change its name, because the indenture of February 6, 1795, between Ann White and William Dickson refers to "Theatre Lane."113 On a map of 1808, published by David Longworth, its name is "Theatre Alley," which is what it has been called ever since.114 By an indenture recorded on July 2, 1831,Ann White, described as the widow of Thomas White, and William Dickson granted Theatre Alley to the Mayor, Aldermen and Commonalty of the City of New Yok.115
The token is signed "Jacobs." This is probably identical to a Benjamin Jacob, who issued
his own token from Birmingham in 1798 (Dalton-Hamer.
Warwicks.31; fig. 9).116 The token appears to have been made with hand-cut letters
rather than with punches, which indicates Jacob's work, but Jacob used particular care on
this token, so it is difficult to tell. The use of the final S on the other tokens may indicate the possessive: "This is my
work," or it may
be an alternate spelling at a time when last names were by no means as fixed as they are today. Benjamin Jacob may
have been Jewish; the name is not always a Jewish one, but there is clearly a Jewish connection to many Conder
issues: the Cabbage Society (Dalton-Hamer.Middx.227, Dalton-Hamer Middx.1005, Dalton-Hamer.Middx.1149) the boxer David Mendoza
(Dalton-Hamer.Middx.34-35, Dalton-Hamer.Middx.785-789), Lord George Gordon (Dalton-Hamer.Middx.775-782, Dalton-Hamer.Dublin.
12), M. & H. Oppenheim's
toy warehouse of London (Dalton-Hamer.Middx.398).117 The London magistrate Patrick
Colquhoun, who was extremely anti-Semitic (and anti-Irish), blamed most of the counterfeit copper coin on the Jews, writing
The Jews principally confine themselves to the coinage and circulation of copper; while the Irish women are the chief utterers
colourers of base silver....It is somewhat singular among the Jews, although many cases occur where they appear to be coiners
of copper money and dealers to a great extent, yet scarce an instance can be adduced of their having any concern in the coinage
or in the
colouring of base silver: neither are they extensive dealers in any other base money but coppr.118
Although Colquhoun's prejudices diminish his value as a source, there probably was some Jewish presence in the trade in private issues of pence and halfpence.
The manufacturer was Peter Skidmore, who from 1797 until 1809 was a partner with his father John Skidmore in Skidmore & Son, stove grate makers. It was the son who branched out into the manufacture of tokens, which were sold from their shop at 123, High Holborn, but made at their works at 15, Coppice Row, Clerkenwell.119
Waters suggested in 1954 that the Theatre at New York
City token, because, unlike so many other Conder tokens, its reverse is found muled with nothing else, was
issued for commercial purposes made up at the order of the theaer.120
Don Taxay suggested it was used as an admission ticket, similar to the Rickett's Circus
piece.121 This is not possible, however. We know from contemporary newspaper advertisements (which I have
quoted above) that there were three prices to sit in the theater: 8 shillings (one dollar) to sit in the boxes; 6 shillings
(75 cents) to sit
in the pit (orchestra); and 4 shillings (50 cents) to sit in the gallery (balcony). An admission ticket would have to have
a method of
distinguishing these three Price ranges, and the New York City Theatre token has no
such distinction. The token also lacks a date, which would be essential if it were given to subscribers who rented their boxes
by the season.
The earliest documentation of certificates in New York City City for places in
boxes (in this case, for the John Street Theatre) found by Dunlap was in the summer of
1786, when the following notice appeared:
Theatre. The public are respectfully informed, that on account of a number of complaints relative
to unfair preference in boxes, many of which have been lately taken without being occupied, the managers, ever ready to show
attention to the accommodation of their friends and patrons, have adopted a mode to prevent any similar infringement in future
tickets for the night, which will be delivered by the box-keeper, on payment, to the gentlemen taking boxes, with the number
particularized; a measure which they flatter themselves will meet with general approbation. Hallam
All these tickets were of paper. By 1826, it seems that someone who wished to sit in a box at the Park Theatre would
go to the box office and put his name down on a written list. Lorenzo Da Ponte writes,
I went to the theatre in
the forenoon and found his name written in the usual list of allocations, and, there being room for me also in the same box,
I had my name
registered there at once. He was already in his chair when I arrived. I seated myself at his side.123
This indicates that the theatergoer would sign up for a box, but would not be assigned a specific seat within that box.
We should keep in mind, however, that the distinction between "coins struck for collectors" and "coins struck for circulation," although a real enough distinction today, did not truly exist at the end of the eighteenth century. Consider the Talbot, Allum and Lee tokens, which most assuredly were made for circulation, and even served as the stock for half cents and a few large cents. Although they were struck for circulation, numerous wild mulings of their dies exist, including one with the prison reformer John Howard. So this token, originally struck for circulation, then becomes a muling made for collectors. Yet this very muling is also known with a countermark of John the Baptist for circulation on the Island of Malta.124 The way the Talbot, Allum and Lee tokens fluidly move between "struck for circulation" and "struck for collectors" and then "struck for circulation" again shows that this is not the hard and fast distinction it is today, when it is nearly impossible to spend the Marshall Islands "coins." Benjamin Jacob and Peter Skidmore struck tokens neither for circulation nor for collectors, but solely to make money, and they would sell into whatever market was attractive at the time. They may have thought that they could get some New York City order by making up tokens depicting the theater. After all, Peter Kempson & Co. had obtained an order from Talbot, Allum and Lee for two tons of cents and Obadiah Westwood was trying to obtain a United States coinage contract.125 If the speculation failed, and they could not sell it to America, they knew they certainly could sell the tokens in the local collectors' market. British collectors at this time loved anything American; there was a great cult of Washington. This was partly because of the horrors of the French revolution, and Washington provided a good example that Anglophones knew how to conduct revolution in a civilized fashion, as opposed to the excitable Latins. This intense love affair was ended by the War of 1812. In the 1790s, however, anything "American" met with a ready sale.
There are five more numismatic items associated with the Park Theatre. The first three are the three varieties of the enigmatic ADMIT and PAID tokens of 1817 (figs. 10-11). The earliest description of the ADMIT token which we have found is in William E. Woodward's auction of the John F. McCoy collection on May 17-21, 1864, lot 2294, which reads, "Park Theatre check, Admit,' 1817, copper, rare" and was sold to Hoffman for 40 cents.126 The next listing I have found is in the list of New York City state storecards, which was published in The Coin Collector's Journal of March 1885. This listing, possibly by Lyman H. Low, says: "This token is generally believed to be an admission ticket to the old Park Theatre, Park Row, N.Y. We have been able to obtain no information either for or against this attribution."127 The PAID token was not listed. Lyman H. Low sold three pieces in his auction of the collection of Benjamin Betts (brother of Charles W. Betts), on January 11-12, 1898: two varieties of the ADMIT token, and one example of the PAID token. The lot realized 40 cents, being sold to Daniel Parish, Jr., who then donated the pieces to the ANS (accession number 1898.4). Low wrote of the tokens, "Unquestionably Park Theatre, New York City, about 1820-24, notwithstanding other places of amusement in England as well as the U.S. have been credited with it."128 Low did not give any reason for his attribution other than his personal statement. One thing wrong with his statement is the date: the token bears the date 1817, and the First Park Theatre burned down on May 25, 1820, so his later date for the use of the token is unlikely. Assuming the Park Theatre attribution is correct, we should re-date the token to 1817-20. William E. Woodward may be close enough in time, however, so that his attribution to the Park Theatre should be given some weight.
There is no mention of these tokens by the New York City City theater historian George Odell, but he is usually concerned with plays and cast lists. The Park Theatre ran an advertisement in the New-York Evening Post every night it had a performance, and in the advertisement of September 18, 1817, a new phrase is added: "Ladies and Gentlemen are requested to purchase their tickets at the Box-office, as the Door Keepers are strictly forbidden to receive money at the door."129 This phrase does not show up earlier in the year, and it appears in every advertisement afterward for the next several weeks. It may indicate when the system of "ADMIT" and "PAID" tokens was introduced, perhaps because one of the doorkeepers was taking in cash and embezzling the funds. This is only conjecture, however.
The ADMIT token, but not PAID, was listed by Wright in The Numismatist in January 1898.130 Edgar H. Adams also listed the ADMIT token, but not the PAID token (Adams.NY.41).131 The earliest photograph of these tokens which I have found is in Wayte Raymond's article on early New York City store cards in the Coin Collector's Journal of June 1934, which showed both the ADMIT and the PAID tokens.132 The tokens were also discussed by Melvin and George Fuld on their "Token Collector's Page" in The Numismatist of April 1961,133 were listed in Donald Miller's 1962 catalogue of U.S. tokens134 and since then have been taken up into Rulau's token catalogues.135
The Betts catalogue included (but did not depict or describe in any detail) two varieties of the ADMIT token. (The lot sold to Daniel Parish, Jr. and donated to the ANS.) An examination of the specimens in the ANS collection and a comparison of the photographs in Raymond and Fuld's listings distinguishes these two varieties. The first variety (visible in the Raymond photograph of June 1934) is from the same punch set as that used to make the PAID token, with small letters with large serifs; the ADMIT does not touch the oval of pearls. The second variety, which is the one in the Fuld photograph (and which is shown in fig. 10), is from a different punch set: the punches are large letters, small serifs on the 1s of the date, the 7 is larger than the 1s; this variety may easily be distinguished because the T and the A of ADMIT touch the oval of pearls. I have not noticed any die links among the tokens, and so far have noticed two varieties for ADMIT, made from two pairs of dies, and one variety for PAID, struck from one pair of dies. The reverse die for PAID is easily distinguishable because of a large die defect in the oval of pearls above the 7 of 1817.
Presumably the theater first had the ADMIT and PAID tokens made up, and then they ran out of ADMIT tokens, so they put in another order, and the manufacturer used a different punch set from the first order. The tokens are not rare, and since we have a good idea of how many would have been struck to begin with (two thousand PAID, based on a sold-out theater), that is not surprising. I am more than willing to believe that these tokens were issued by the Park Theatre, but there is only Woodward's and Low's authority for this.
Another numismatic item is associated with the Second Park Theatre and should be more straightforward. This is a 1799 dollar (variety Bolender.16, Bowers-Borckardt.158; the photographs are not good enough to die state accurately, but it might be die state II), formerly in the Maurice M. Gould collection, which has engraved upon its obverse, Seymour Harris / Park Theatre / No. / N - Y / August 9th, 1834 and engraved upon the reverse WR (catalogued by Rulau; Rulau-E-NY-42).136 It is holed at about 9 o'clock on the obverse, so that it may be worn with the script letters reading correctly, although this tilts the bust of Liberty so she faces downward. One would think it would be the name of a leading actor at a benefit at the theater; but there is no Seymour Harris listed among the cast lists for the Park Theatre which have come down to us. The matter becomes yet more mysterious in that I could find no Seymour Harris listed in the New York City City directories from 1832 to 1840. Directories at this period only listed a small fraction of the inhabitants of any city; but if Seymour Harris existed, he should be listed in the Federal census; and the indices to the Federal census of New York City State for 1830 and 1840 show no Seymour Harris either. The matter will have to remain a mystery.
Odell tells us that the Park at this point was open for its summer season, and was performing Daniel-François-Esprit Auber's
opera Gustave III ou le Bal Masqué,137 which is perhaps more familiar to the opera goer in the version of Giuseppe Verdi, Un Ballo
in Maschera. All I could find was an advertisement for that night's performance in The New-York
PARK THEATRE—Sixth appearance of Signor ANTONIO, universally acknowledged the most surprising
and elegant ROPE DANCER in the World—and whose extraordinary exertions on the Corde Volante, as at most of the Theatres on
Continent, have gained him the title of "The little Devil," will appear this evening. This evening, August 9th, 1834, will
for the 12th time, the Historical Opera of GUSTAVUS THE THIRD, or the Masked Ball. —Gustavus, Mr. Mason; Ankarstrom, Mr. Richings;
Col. Lillienhord, Jones; Mde Ankarstrom, Mrs. Harrison; Oscar, Mrs. Blake; Arvedson, Mrs. Wheatley.
will dance a favorite PAS SEUL.
After which, Il Signor DIAVOLO ANTONIO'S unrivalled exhibition on the FLYING ROPE.
Monday evening—Signora Ferrero's Benefit.
Doors in future will open precisely at 7. Performances will commence at half past 7 o'cock.138
The New-York Evening Post for August 11 and August 12, 1834, does not mention anything special happening at the Park Theatre on the night of August 9.
Perhaps this engraved piece was worn by a box attendant at the theater. Similarly engraved and holed pieces were used as tickets and passes in Britain, but they almost never have an exact date written on them. They also usually indicate which part of the theater the owner is to sit, whether the gallery, the pit, or a box.139 It is thus unlikely, despite its outward resemblance, that this piece served as a ticket or pass to the Park Theatre.
Finally, on the opening of the Second Park Theatre in 1821, a gold medal of the value of $50 and the freedom of the Theatre was offered to the best opening address. This contest was won by Charles Sprague of the State Bank, Boston.140 We have no idea, however, what the gold medal would have been, and it might well be a common stock award medal with no specific reference to the Theatre.
An examination of some of Jacob's other tokens reveals how he worked. Skidmore had Jacob sink the dies for his halfpenny series of London churches and gates. A comparison of the token of St. Andrew Undershaft (Dalton-Hamer.Middx.596; fig. 12) shows that it is taken from a larger eighteenth century copperplate engraving. This was probably from one of several Histories of London which were produced in the second half of the eighteenth century.141 The engravings of St. Andrew Undershaft are too close in design to decide whether Jacob used Chamberlain (1770), Harrison (1775) or Thornton (1784) (they are all views from the northwest), but the likeliest is Thornton. Depicted here is a reproduction from Harrison (1775; fig. 13).142
The engraving, unfortunately, was rather inaccurate; the steeple of St. Andrew's Undershaft is much narrower and taller than depicted in the engraving;143 and Jacob copied these errors. Jacob, in short, worked from existing copperplate engravings which depicted buildings; he would simplify these engraving, although he generally followed them more or less faithfully; the accuracy (or lack thereof) of the engraving decides the accuracy of Jacob's depiction. There is no indication that Jacob ever bothered to examine in person the buildings he depicted on the tokens.
Regrettably, this reduces the historical importance of these tokens, because they are not independent sources, but depend upon the engravings they copy.144 If the engravings exist —and often they do, although they can be difficult to locate—it is preferable to base our reconstructions of old buildings upon them, rather than upon the tokens, because all the tokens (and Jacob's especially) simplify and falsify further the engravings they copy. The tokens can be useful in dating some engravings, however. For example, a token which shows the Leadenhall (Dalton-Hamer.Middx. 104; not by Jacob) copies and simplifies an engraving of the Leadenhall, which has been dated to "the seventeenth or eighteenth century," which is believed to show the Leadenhall as it looked much earlier.145 The style of the lettering of the engraving, however, suggests that it is from the late eighteenth century, and the token which shows the Leadenhall says that the Hall was built in 1419 and taken down in 1794. The token strongly suggests that the engraving depicted the Leadenhall as it was in the 1790s, just before its destruction.
Two points are important: first of all, many of the diesinkers for the city-view tokens never went and looked at the buildings they depicted; they copied engravings. Further research in British eighteenth century tokens should be directed toward identifying these engravings. Secondly, coins and tokens in the modern period are only rarely sources in their own right, because often the engravings which they copied survive. If original papyrus drawings of the Colosseum existed, the Colosseum sestertius would be rather less significant. It is a basic principle of the use of sources that one follows the stemma until one can go no further: the earliest manuscript in a particular tradition should be the best (philologists call this principle the eliminatio codicum descriptorum).146 Since many of these engravings do survive, I think the task is not to use the tokens alone as sources, but rather to find the engravings which were copied by the tokens, to produce iconographical studies informed by Quellenforscbung.
|1||I would like to thank Sarah Cox, Kenneth Edlow, Dr. Jay M. Galst, Edward Janis, Herman Miller, Eric P. Newman, Donald G. Partrick and Donald Scarinci for their assistance and suggestions. I am also indebted to the staff of the New York City Public Library, particularly Local History and Genealogy, the Microfilm Reading Room and the Rare Books Room at the Main Research Building and the Billy Rose Theatre Collection at the Lincoln Center Library; the staff of the Yale University Library; the staff of Butler Library, Columbia University; the staff of the maps and prints room of the Guildhall Library, London; the staff of the National Archives, New York City branch; the staff of the Municipal Archives of New York City City; and the staff of the City Register's Office of Manhattan.|
|2||Sarah Cox, who has done much work on the architecture depicted on coins of the Flavians, and who very kindly supplied me with slides of the Colosseum sestertius for my talks.|
|3||Walter Breen, Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins (New York City, 1988), pp. 104-5.|
|4||This is the same Doughty whose name is associated with the old variety study of large cents, which was based upon the work of David Proskey. Doughty himself was not that good a numismatist; his chief occupation is said to have been as "a hack writer of fiction for boys." He was a corresponding member of the ANS under the old Constitution from May 20, 1895; when the new Constitution was introduced, residents of the United States were not allowed to become corresponding members, but the old members were "grandfathered." He died on October 30, 1917. ANS Annual Report for 1917, p. 9; "Profiles of Old-Time Collectors and Dealers," Warren A. Lapp and Herbert A. Silberman, eds., United States Large Cents 1793-185. An Anthology (Lawrence, MA, 1975), p. 580 (biographies compiled by W.H. Sheldon, Walter Breen, and John Wrigh); Peter Smith, "Names with Notes - Part Two," Penny-Wise 24 (1990), p. 343.|
|5||Francis W. Doughty, "Some Historic Tokens of the City of New York City," Proceedings of the American Numismatic and Archaeological Society of New York City (New York City, 1887) pp. 32-40.|
|6||Michael J.Hodder, "Auction Reviews," The C4 Newsletter, vol. 1, No. 2 (Dec. 1993), "First Printing," p. 12.|
|7||R.S. Yeoman, A Guide Book of United States Coins, 48th Edition, 1995, Kenneth Bressett, ed. (Racine, WI, 1994) p. 57.|
|8||James Conder, An Arrangement of Provincial Coins, Tokens, and Medalets, Issued in Great Britain, Ireland, and the Colonies, within the Last Twenty Years; from the Farthing, to the Penny Size (Ipswich, 1798), p. [vi].|
|9||James Atkins, The Tradesmen's Tokens of the Eighteenth Century (London, 1892).|
|10||Richard Dalton and Samuel H. Hamer, The Provincial Token-Coinage of the 18th Century ([Bristol?], 1910), p. 110; R.C. Bell, The Building Medalets of Kempson and Skidmore, 1797-1797 (Newcastle upon Tyne, 1978), p. 91.|
|11||Woodward, May 17-21, 1864 (McCoy), 2163.|
|12||Woodward, May 26-29, 1884 (Levick), 2463.|
|13||Henry Chapman, Dec. 7-17, 1921 (Jenks), 5508.|
|14||Benjamin P. Wright, "American Store or Business Cards," The Numismatist 1899, pp. 221, 223.|
|15||[Edgar H. Adams, ed.] New York City City and State Store Cards (New York City, 1913). The listing of the New York City storecards was probably done by David Proskey or Lyman H. Low.|
|16||Edgar H. Adams, United States Store Cards. A List of Merchants' Advertising Checks, Restaurant Checks, and Kindred Pieces Issued from 1789 up to Recent Years, Including Many of the Tokens Which Passed as Money and Known as Hard Times Tokens (New York City, 1920).|
|17||The earliest edition of a Raymond catalogue that I have found which lists the token is that of 1934. Although the catalogue is for 1934, its copyright date is 1933; the ANS copy of the catalogue was donated to the Society on October 23, 1933, which gives us a terminus ante quem. The catalogue also includes a photograph of the token. The same photograph was reused for all the later editions of Raymond's Standard Catalogue—Wayte Raymond, Standard Catalogue of Early American Coins 1652-1796, first edition, 1934 (New York City, ), p. 13. Curiously, although H.R. Stephens, in "English Tokens Relating to America," The Coin Collector's Journal 1941, p. 185 (published by Wayte Raymond), mentions the Theatre at New York City token in passing and calls it "very rare," he did not list it separately or reproduce a photograph in his articles of December 1941 and January 1942, even though Raymond had a photograph which he was using in his coin and token catalogues by that time. The token fell through the cracks.|
|18||A Guide Book of United States Coins (Racine, WI, 1971), p. 50. Edward Janis has told me that the New York City Theatre token was included in the Red Book at the urging of Gilbert Steinberg.|
|19||Ada Louise Huxtable, Classic New York City: Georgian Gentility to Grecian Elegance, The Architecture of New York City. A History and Guide, vol. 1 (New York City, 1964). This is the only volume of this excellent history which has appeared.|
|20||Berenice Abbott, Changing New York City (New York City, 1939).|
|21||I[saac] N. P. Stokes, The Iconography of Manhattan Island 1498-1909. Compiled from Original Sources and Illustrated by Photo-Intaglio Reproductions of Important Maps, Plans, Views and Documents in Public and Private Collections (New York City, 1915-28).|
|22||[David Longworth], Longworth's American Almanack, New-York Register, and City Directory, for the Twenty-second Year of American Independence. Containing Most Things Useful in a Work of the Kind. Embellished with a View of the New Theatre (New York City, 1797).|
|23||See, for example, the splendid map of New York City City published in 1797, drawn by B. Taylor and engraved by J. Robers, which labels the John Street Theatre as "the Old Theatre" and what became the Park Theatre as "the New Theatre" it is reproduced in John A. Kouwenhoven, The Columbia Historical Portrait of New York City. An Essay in Graphic History in Honor of the Tricentennial of New York City City and the Bicentennial of Columbia University (Garden City, NY, 1953), pp. 104-5.|
|24||Charles Hemstreet reproduces the cornerstone of the Theatre, which in his day was preserved in a downtown restaurant. It reads: "The corner stone of this Theatre was laid on the 5th day of May AD 1795. Jacob Morton, Wm. Henderson, Carlile Pollock, Commissioners; Lewis Hallem [sic], John Hodgkinson, managers" Charles Hemstreet, literary New York City. Its Landmarks and Associations (New York City and London, 1903), p. 69.|
|25||William Dunlap, History of the American Theatre and Anecdotes of the Principal Actors (New York City, 1832) vol. 1, p. 160. New Yorkers tended to move every May first because they were no more reliable about paying their rent in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries than they are now.|
|26||David Longworth, The American Almanack, New-York Register, and City Directory, for the Twenty-first Year of American Independence. Containing Most Things Useful in a Work of the Kind and Embellished with an Accurate Map of the City, and a Perspective of the Tontine City Tavern (New York City, 1796).|
|27||[David Longworth], Longworth's American Almanack, New-York Register, and City Directory, for the Twenty-second Year of American Independence. Containing Most Things Useful in a Work of the Kind. Embellished with a View of the New Theatre (New York City, 1797), p. 2. This is a settlement of claims of losses by United States merchants during the war between Spain and France. All claims of United States merchants against Spain were to be registered at the office of the Spanish consul up to 18 months after May 17, 1797.|
|28||Livingston Rutherfurd, Family Records and Events Compiled Principally from the Original Manuscripts in the Rutherfurd Collection (New York City, 1894) pp. 171-72; Stokes (above, n. 21), vol. 5, p. 1334.|
|29||*KSB, Rare Books and Manuscripts Division, New York City Public Library; a black and white positive photograph is in the Billy Rose Theatre Collection, New York City Public Library, Photo File B, Theatres, US: New York City: Park; David M. Stauffer, American Engravers upon Copper and Steel (New York City, 1907), Part 2, Check-List of the Works of the Earlier Engravers, p. 537; Mantle Fielding, American Engravers upon Copper and Steel. Biographical Sketches and Check Lists of Engravings (Philadelphia, 1917), p. 46—this supplement to Stauffer lists yet a third variety, signed "J. Allen sc. E. Tisdale delin. et sc." (Fielding.24).|
|30||The American Antiquarian Society copy was consulted on its microfiche set of New York City City directories, of which the New York City Public Library has a copy. I am obliged to the curators of the Rare Book Room of the New York City Public Library for information on the provenance of these various copies.|
|31||Stauffer (above, n. 29), Part 1, pp. 272-73; Part 2, Check-List of the Works of the Earlier Engravers, pp. 535-37; Fielding (above, n. 29), pp. 285-86; Gene Hessler, The Engraver's Line: An Encyclopedia of Paper Money & Postage Stamp Art (Port Clinton, OH, 1993), p. 304.|
|32||Heads of Families of the First Census of the United States Taken in the Year 1790. Connecticut (Washington, 1908) pp. 145-46.|
|33||Second Census (1800), Population of Connecticut , vol 2, Windham County, pp. 854-55, National Archives, Records of the Bureau of the Census. Consulted on microfilm: M32, Roll 2.|
|34||Third Census (1810), Population of Connecticut , vol. 3, New London, Tolland and Windham Counties, p. 586, National Archives, Records of the Bureau of the Census. Consulted on microfilm: M252, Roll 3.|
|35||"La Sibérie seule peut être comparée à Lebanon, qui n'est composée que de quel-ques cabanes dispersées dans d'immenses forêts." Armand-Louis de Gontaut, duc de Lauzun, afterward duc de Biron, Mémoires, ed. François Barrière (Pars, 1882), p. 190; Forrest Morgan, Connecticut as a Colony and as a State, or One of the Original Thirteen (Hartford, 1904), vol. 2, p. 151.|
|36||Encyclopedia Britannica (Chicago, 1973), vol. 13, s.v. "Lebanon," pp. 877-78.|
|37||William Duncan, The New-York Directory and Register for the Year 1794 (New York City, 1794), p. 186; Duncan, New York City City Directory for 1795, p. 214; John Low, New York City City Directory for 1796, p. 179; [David Longworth], The American Almanack, New-York Register, and City Directory for the Twenty-first Year of American Independence. Containing Most Things Useful in a Work of the Kind and Embellished with an Accurate Map of the City, and a Perspective of the Tontine City Tavern (New York City, 1796; preface signed June 11, 1796), p. 207; [Longworth], New York City City Directory for 1798, unpaginated.|
|38||Stauffer (above, n. 29), pp. 272-73; Hessler (above, n. 31), p. 304.|
|39||Stauffer (above, n. 29), pp. 6-7; Second Census (1800), Population of Connecticut , vol. 1, Hartford County, p. 396, National Archives, Records of the Bureau of the Census. Consulted on microfilm: M32, Roll 1.|
|40||The whole genuine and complete works of Flavius Josephus....Tr. from the original in the Greek language. And diligently revised and compared with the writings of contemporary authors, of different nations, on the subject... Also a continuation of the history of the Jews, from Josephus down to the present time....By George Henry Maynard, LL.D. Illustrated with marginal references, and notes...By the Rev. Edward Kimpton.... Embellished with upwards of sixty beautifull engravings, taken from original drawings of Messrs. Metz, Stothard, and Corbould, members of the Royal Academy, and engraved by American artists. The New York City imprint is William Durrell, 1792; the Baltimore imprint is Pechin and Company, 1795. This edition is important for the specimens of early engraving in the United States.|
|41||George C.D. Odell, Annals of the New York City Stage (New York City, 1927), vol. 2, 1798-1821, facing p. 6.|
|42||Richard Beamish, Memoir of the Life of Sir Marc Isambard Brunel, Civil Engineer, Vice-President of the Royal Society, Corresponding Member of the Institute of France &c., &c., &c. (London, 1862), p. 34.|
|43||Arthur W. Waters, Notes on Eighteenth Century Tokens. Being Supplementary and Explanatory Notes on the "Provincial Token Coinage of the Eighteenth Century" by Richard Dalton and Samuel H. Hamer (London, 1954), p. 12.|
|44||Lyman H. Low, May 23-24, 1898, 148. I owe this reference to the card indices to the ANS collection of auction catalogues prepared by Walter Breen in the spring of 1951.|
|45||New Netherlands June 19-20, 1958, 180.|
|46||Bowers and Ruddy Galleries, Oct. 1-2, 1980 (Garret), 1529.|
|47||Stack's, Dec. 8-9, 1983 (Roper), 355.|
|48||Breen, Encyclopedia (above, n. 3), p. 105.|
|49||Woodward, May 26-29, 1884 (Levick), 2463.|
|50||Henry Chapman, Dec. 7-17, 1921 (Jenks, 5508.|
|51||Adams, U.S. Store Cards (above, n. 16), p. 50.|
|52||Breen, Encyclopedia (above, n. 3), p. 105; Hamer, "Introduction" Dalton and Hamer (above, n. 10), p. [vi].|
|53||Donald Scarinci, "Two New York City Theater Tokens for Sale: How Many are Really out There?" CNL 1993, pp. 1367-69. This article lists thirteen tokens; after Scarinci published his article, he looked in the Norweb sale and found one more, so he has identified fourteen in total. I was recently told of a piece from an old New York City collection, which is now kept in Florida; but this may be identical with one of the thirteen listed by Scarinci.|
|54||Breen, Encyclopedia (above, n. 3), p. 105.|
|55||Benjamin P. Wright, "American Store or Business Cards," The Numismatist 1899, p. 223 (Wright 1130A).|
|56||This reference was easy to find because of the extremely helpful guide by Harrington E. Manville, Numismatic Guide to British & Irish Periodicals 1731-1991, Encyclopaedia of British Numismatics, vol. 2, Part 1, Archaeological (London, 1993), p. 62.|
|57||Celia Brunel Noble, The Brunels: Father and Son (London, 1938), p. 12.|
|58||Beamish (above, n. 42), pp. 23-24; Noble (above, n. 57), p. 15; Victor Morin, "Castorland," Le Bulletin des Recherches Historiques 1938, pp. 225-32; Victor Morin, "Castorland," The Numismatist 1942, pp. 717-20. Riddell calls it the "Franco-American half crown, or half dollar," and calls it a coin; his specimen is holed and plugged. J.L. Riddell, A Monograph of the Silver Dollar, Good and Bad (New Orleans, 1845), unpaginated, but Riddell gives a catalogue number to all coins; the Castorland piece is Riddell.478.|
|59||Nobel (above, n. 57), p. 16.|
|60||Beamish (above, n. 42), pp. 32-33; Noble (above, n. 57), p. 17; Glenn Brown, History of the United States Capitol, vol. 1, The Old Capitol, 1792-1850 (Washington, 1900).|
|61||Beamish (above, n. 42), pp. 36, 341 (Appendix A). There is no record of this naturalization in Kenneth Scott, Early New York City Naturalizations. Abstracts of Naturalization Records from Federal, State and Local Courts 1792-1840 (Baltimore, 1981).|
|62||Beamish (above, n. 42), pp. 34-35.|
|63||Beamish (above, n. 42), pp. 33-34; Noble (above, n. 57), p. 17. Robert Harrison, writing in the Dictionary of National Biography (London, 1886; s.v. "Sir Marc Isambard Brunel," p. 145), says that the theater which Brunel designed was the Bowery Theatre, which cannot be right. The Bowery Theatre did not open until October 23, 1826; see William C. Young, Documents of American Theatre History, vol. 1, Famous American Playhouses 1716-1899 (Chicago, 1973), p. 76.|
|64||Stokes (above, n. 21), vol. 5, p. 1349; John A. Kouwenhoven, The Columbia Historical Portrait of New York City. An essay in graphic history in honor of the Tricentennial of New York City City and the Bicentennial of Columbia University (Garden City, NY, 1953), p. 103; Alan Burnham, ed., New York City Landmarks. A Study & Index of Architecturally Notable Structures in Greater New York City (Middletown, CT, 1963), pp. 33-34, 70-71, 357, 366; Huxtable (above, n. 19), pp. 64, 126. The mention of Charles Mangin and the description of him as brother comes from Kouwenhoven. That two Mangins were involved with the Park Theatre we know from the newspaper article quoted by Stokes, "Great credit is due to Messrs. Mangins..." A copy of Mangin's 1803 map, as reproduced for Valentine's Manual in 1850, is available in the Local History and Genealogy Division of the New York City Public Library.|
|65||Beamish (above, n. 42), p. 36.|
|66||Burnham (above, n. 64), p. 33; William Seale, The President's House. A History (Washington, 1986), vol. 1, pp. 1-21; Richard W. Stephenson, "A Plan Whol[l]y New:" Pierre Charles L'Enfant's Plan of the City of Washington (Washington, DC, 1993). This attractive building no longer exists, but a good engraving survives; the New York City Public Library example is reproduced in Philip L. Mossman, Money of the American Colonies and Confederation. A Numismatic, Economic and Historical Correlation, ANSNS 20 (New York City, 1993), p. 255.|
|67||Clarence S. Brigham, History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690-1820 (Worcester, MA, 1947), p. 644.|
|68||Gazette Française , Jan. 24, 1798; consulted in the microfilm series "Early American Newspapers." After reading the Republican propaganda spewed forth from the Gazette Française, one can understand the rationale behind the Alien and Sedition Acts.|
|69||Beamish (above, n. 42), p. 33.|
|70||David Longworth, New York City City Directory for 1797, p. 135; Longworth, New York City City Directory for 1798, unpaginated.|
|71||Beamish (above, n. 42), pp. 35-36; Morin (above, n. 58), p. 720.|
|72||Alexander Hamilton, Feb. 6, 1799 to Rufus King in London, Harold C. Syrett et al, eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 22, July 1798-March 1799 (New York City and London, 1975), p. 465.|
|73||Beamish (above, n. 42), p. 104. A later biographer of Brunel writes "It is almost gruesome to read, now, Beamish's smug remarks, in 1862." Noble (above, n. 57), p. 28.|
|74||Indices to the Real Property Files for Section 1, Block 90, Office of the New York City City Register, Manhattan.|
|75||This word, an anglicization of the Latin word for book, is how legal volumes are referred to, at least in New York City State.|
|76||Indenture made between Ann White, widow, grantor, and William Dickson, grantee, February 6, 1795, recorded December 16, 1797. Attached to this indenture is a map of the property, surveyed by Evert Bancker October 28, 1797. This indenture covers Section 1, Block 90, lots 3, 4, 4 1/2, 5, 5 1/2, 9, 10, 11, 11 1/2, 12, 13, and 13 1/2, in other words virtually the entire block except for the theater, but naturally the map of these lots shows the theater as well. Office of the New York City City Register, Manhattan, Real Property Files, liber 52, pp. 276-80.|
|77||Young (above, n. 63), facing p. 52.|
|78||Minutes of the Common Council of the City of New York City 1784-1821, vol. 2, April 8, 1793 to June 12, 1801 (New York City, 1917), p. 150.|
|79||Common Council Minutes, vol. 11, March 6,1820 to August 20, 1821, pp. 557, 603.|
|80||Common Council Minutes, vol. 17, March 10, 1828 to April 6, 1829, pp. 235, 295, 304, 314.|
|81||The indenture gives the number as 115. Dunlap gives two figures: 130 and 113. Odell has suggested, almost certainly correctly, that 130 was a dictation error for 113—$42,700 divided by $375 results in 113 whole subscribers, and 86 and 2/3 hundredths of another subscriber. This suggests to me that the correct number was 115 subscribers, and some subscribers were in arrears with their payments; 115 may be easily misread as 113; and 113 then misheard as 130. Dunlap, History (above, n. 25), vol. 2, pp. 8, 10; Odell (above, n. 41), p. 4.|
|82||Indenture recorded May 16, 1850; Grantors: Thomas Cooper (Master in Chancery), Jacob Morton, Carlile Pollock, William Henderson; Grantees: Daniel McCormick, John Waddington, John B. Coles, John McVickar, John C. Shaw; Office of the City Register, Manhattan, Real Property Files, liber 539, pp. 491-96.|
|83||Indenture recorded July 8, 1806; Grantors: Daniel McCormick, Joshua Waddington, John B. Coles, John McVickar, John C. Shaw; Grantees: John Jacob Astor and John K. Beekman, Office of the City Register, Manhattan, Real Property Files, liber 72, pp. 514-17.|
|84||Commercial Advertiser, Jan. 27, 1798, p. ; T. Allston Brown, A History of the New York City Stage. From the First Performance in 1732 to 1901 (New York City, 1903), vol. 1, pp. 11-12; Odell (above, n. 41), facing p. 6. There are slight differences in the text of the advertisement as it appeared in the various New York City City papers. The Commercial Advertiser did not print the ticket prices in its first advertisement, but later advertisements contain them: Commercial Advertiser, Jan. 31, 1798), p. , consulted in the microfilm series published by the American Antiquarian Society, Early American Newspapers.|
|85||Brown (above, n. 84), p. 12.|
|86||Burnham (above, n. 64), pp. 62-63, 359; Huxtable (above, n. 19), pp. 18-19.|
|87||Beamish (above, n. 42), pp. 33-34.|
|88||Dunlap, History (above, n. 25), vol. 2, p. 80.|
|89||Stokes (above, n. 21), vol. 5, p. 1349; "Park Theatre," Phyllis Hartnoll, ed., The Oxford Companion to the Theatre (Oxford, 1951) pp. 602-3.|
|90||David W. Dunlap, On Broadway. A Journey Uptown over Time (New York City, 1990) pp. 45-52.|
|91||Stokes (above, n. 21), vol. 5, p. 1470, quoting the New-York Evening Post of Aug. 28, 1807; Joseph N. Ireland, Records of the New York City Stage from 1750 to 1860 (New York City, 1866), vol. 1, pp. 172-73, n. 1. This is an expanded version of articles which originally appeared in the Evening Mirror, 1853-57.|
|92||Ireland (above, n. 91), p. 172. We should remember that Ireland wrote at least three decades after Brunel's original building had burnt down. Ireland is the source of the error, repeated in Breen, "Designed by the architect Brunel, this building externally never looked much like his conception." Breen, Encyclopedia (above, n. 3), p. 104.|
|93||Odell (above, n. 41), vol. 2, p. 8; Stokes (above, n. 21), p. 1470, quoting the New-York Evening Post of Aug. 28, 1807. Breen also quotes this figure: Breen, Encyclopedia (above, n. 3), p. 104. Because the audience sat on backless benches, 2,372 is more accurate than one would expect.|
|94||This is clear from the interior view of the Second Park Theatre from 1821, reproduced in Young (above, n. 63), facing p. 53, although there the picture is incorrectly attributed to the First Park Theatre and dated around 1805. A comparison of the picture with the description of the opening in the New-York Evening Post makes it clear that the picture must show the Second Park Theatre in 1821. The article on theater architecture in Hartnoll (above, n. 89), is also very informative.|
|95||United States Census Office, Second Census, 1800. Return of the whole Number of Persons within the several Districts of the United States, according to "An Act providing for the Second Census or Enumeration of the Inhabitants of the United States." Passed February the twenty-eighth, one thousand eight hundred [Washington, 1801], p. 32. This was consulted on microfiche in the series Early American Imprints.|
|96||Odell (above, n. 41), vol. 2, pp. 38-97.|
|97||Hemstreet, Literary New York City (above, n. 24), p. 72.|
|98||Lorenzo Da Ponte, Memoirs (New York City, 1959), pp. 446-54; April FitzLyon, The Libertine Librettist (London, 1955), pp. 259-66. It should be noted that the remark of Charles Hemsteet, that Castle Garden was "the first real home of opera in America," is incorrect. Charles Hemstreet, Nooks & Corners of Old New York City (New York City, 1899) p. 5.|
|99||Common Council Minutes, vol. 8, July 6, 1814 to July 27, 1817 (New York City, 1917), p. 371.|
|100||Kenneth W. Porter, John Jacob Astor, Business Man, Harvard Studies in Business History, No. 1 (Cambridge, MA, 1931), vol. 2, pp. 989-90.|
|101||Common Council Minutes, vol. 3 June 22, 1801 to May 13, 1805, pp. 187-88, 430.|
|102||The New-York Evening Post, May 25, 1820, p. .Young (above, n. 63), p. 63, gives the date of the fire as May 24, which is incorrect; Brown (above, n. 84), p. 24, gives the date of the fire as May 25.|
|103||The New-York Evening Post, Aug. 28, 1821, p. . The names marked by stars are Beekman and John Jacob Astor.|
|104||Young (above, n. 63), facing p. 63.|
|105||Porter (above, n. 100), vol. 2, pp. 990-91.|
|106||The New-York Evening Post, Dec. 18, 1848, p. . The remark in Hartnoll that Simpson first leased the theater to Hamblin, and then died, is contradicted by the account in the Post. "Edmund Shaw Simpson," Hartnoll (above, n. 89), p. 742.|
|107||Porter (above, n. 100), vol. 2, pp. 1216-17.|
|108||Billy Rose Theatre Collection, New York City Public Library, Clippings, Theatres: U.S.: New York City: Park.|
|109||Indices to indentures for Section 1, Block 90, Office of the New York City City Register, Manhattan. I have not examined the original deeds.|
|110||Who Was Who in America (Chicago, 1943), vol. 1,1897-1942, p. 81. The "Belmont Tray" and other elaborate items are illustrated in George S. Cuhaj, "Medals and Tokens of the New York City Subway System: Part 2," The Numismatist 1979, pp. 1887-95.|
|111||Private information from someone who has managed the property on Park Row.|
|112||The map was drawn by B. Taylor and engraved by J. Roberts. See Kouwenhoven (above, n. 23), pp. 104-5. There is also a photocopy available in the Local History and Genealogy Division of the New York City Public Library.|
|113||Indenture made February 6, 1795, recorded December 16, 1797; Grantor: Ann White; Grantee: William Dickson, Real Property Files, Office of the New York City City Register, Manhattan, liber 52, pp. 276-80.|
|114||I have consulted this map in a photocopy of the G. Hayward copy prepared for D. T. Valentine's Manual for 1850 in the Local History and Genealogy Division of the New York City Public Library.|
|115||Indices to the real property libers for Section 1, Block 90, Office of the New York City City Register, Manhattan.|
|116||L. Forrer, Biographical Dictionary of Medallists (London, 1907), vol. 3, pp. 43-45, gives a listing of some of Jacob's works. Forrer spells the last name "Jacobs," but he gives the first initial as B. It is not clear how Forrer determined Jacob's first initial, unless he concluded he was identical with Benjamin Jacob. Breen also gives the name of the diesinker as "B. Jacobs," presumably derived from Forrer, Breen, Encyclopedia (above, n. 3), p. 105.|
|117||Dalton and Hamer (above, n. 10), pp. 95, 118, 141, 171-72, 191, 205, 460, 544; Peter S. Horvitz, "The Cabbage Society, The Shekel, 28 (1995), pp. 29-31.|
|118||[Patrick Colquhoun], A Treatise on the Police of London; Containing a Detail of the Various Crimes and Misdemeanors by which Public and Private Property and Security are, at Present, Injured and Endangered: and Suggesting Remedies for their Prevention. The First American Edition (Philadelphia, 1798); preface signed London, November 1, 1796. Dictionary of National Biography (London, 1887), F[rancis] it E[spinasse], "Patrick Colquhoun" vol. 11, pp. 403-5, where Colquhoun's anti-Semitism is passed over in silence.|
|119||R.N.P. Hawkins, A Dictionary of Makers of British Metallic Tickets, Checks, Medalets, Tallies, and Counters 1788-1910, Edward Baldwin, ed. (London, 1989), pp. 98-100.|
|120||Waters (above, n. 43), p. 12: "This may have been ordered from New York City as it is a new reverse die that is used nowhere else."|
|121||Don Taxay, The Comprehensive Catalogue and Encyclopedia of United States Coins, 1976 edition, revised by Joseph H. Rose and Howard Hazelcorn (New York City, 1975) p. 44.|
|122||Dunlap, History (above, n. 25), pp. 119-20.|
|123||Da Ponte (above, n. 98), p. 452.|
|124||Robert A. Vlack, "A Coin of Three Countries," CNL 1968, p. 213; Breen, Encyclopedia (above, n. 3), p. 104. I have not been able to confirm independently from the literature on Maltese numismatics Vlack's account of this countermark.|
|125||Breen, Encyclopedia (above, n. 3), pp. 102-4, 137-41.|
|126||Woodward, May 17-21, 1864 (McCoy), 2294.|
|127||"Tradesmen's Tokens, Other Than Those of the 'Copperhead' Series, Issued in the State of New York City," The Coin Collector's Journal 112 (1885), p. 41.|
|128||Lyman H. Low, Jan. 11-12, 1898, 25.|
|129||The New-York Evening Post, Sept. 18, 1817, p. .|
|130||B.P. Wright, "The American Store or Business Cards," The Numismatist 1898, p. 2 (Wright.4). The omission of the PAID token indicates that Wright copied the listings in the Coin Collector's Journal (above, n. 127), and had not seen the entries in Low's auction of the same month.|
|131||Adams, U.S. Store Cards (above, n. 16), p. 27.|
|132||Wayte Raymond, "Early New York City Store Cards" The Coin Collector's Journal 1 (1934), p. 66.|
|133||Melvin and George Fuld, "The Token Collector's Page," The Numismatist 1961, p. 478.|
|134||Donald M.Miller, A Catalogue of U.S. Store Cards or Merchants Tokens. The Money of the Merchants. A Descriptive Price List of Privately Struck Tokens, Most of Which Were a Part of the Unofficial Coinage of the U.S. (Indiana, PA, 1962) p. 34 (Miller.41 and 41 A).|
|135||Russell Rulau, Early American Tokens. A Catalog of the Merchant and Related Tokens of Colonial and Early Republican America from 1700 to 1832, third edition (Iola, WI, 1991), p. 45 (Rulau E-NY-41 and Rulau E-NY-41A; also first edition (1981), p. 21, second edition (1983, pp. 29-30.|
|136||Rulau (above, n. 135), p. 45. The coin was listed in the first edition and the second edition of Rulau's catalogue as well; Rulau includes a photograph starting with the second edition. See also Robert Stark, "Countermarks on Early U.S. Dollars," John Reich Journal 8 (1993), p. 35. The coin is not listed among the love tokens and counterstamped coins in the Sol Taylor Mail Bid Sale, Feb. 20, 1977 (Maurice Gould, Part 2). Perhaps the coin was in Part 1 of the Mail Bid Sale (the ANS library does not have a copy of this catalogue) or Gould sold the coin privately before his death.|
|137||Odell (above, n. 41), vol. 3, 1821-1834, p. 673. Many of the operas we know today were known in the nineteenth century in earlier versions by Auber (Gustave III, Manon Lescaut) or Rossini (Otello). Many are now, fortunately, being rediscovered.|
|138||The New-York Evening Post, Aug. 9, 1834, p. .|
|139||W J. Davis and A.W. Waters, Tickets and Passes of Great Britain and Ireland, Struck or Engraved on Metal, Ivory, etc. for Use at Theatres, Public Gardens, Shows, Exhibition, Clubs, Societies, Schools and Colleges; also Truck Tickets, Colliery Checks, Railway Passes, Gambling, Lottery and Racing Tickets, etc., Described with Occasional Notes (Leamington Spa, 1922); Christopher Brunel, "A Tale of Two Theatres," Coins, 10 (1973), pp. 18-20.|
|140||The New-York Evening Post, Aug. 23, 1821, p. ; H.N.D, "Recollections of the Park Theatre," The New York City Times, Aug. 4, 1872, New York City Public Library, Billy Rose Theatre Collection, Clippings, Theatres: U.S.: N.Y.: Park; Stokes (above, n. 21), vol. 5, p. 1617; Odell (above, n. 41), vol. 2, p. 597; vol. 3, p. 5.|
|141||Bernard Adams, London Illustrated 1604-185. A Survey and Index of Topographical Books and their Plates (London,1983).|
|142||Walter Harrison, A New and Universal History, Description and Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster, the Borough of Southwark and their Adjacent Parts. Including Not Only All the Parishes Within the Bills of Mortality, But the Towns, Villages, Palaces, Seats, and Country, to the Extent of Twenty Miles Round, Comprizing a Circle of Near One Hundred and Fifty Miles.... Enriched with Upwards of One Hundred Elegant Copperplate Engravings, Exhibiting Architectral [sic], Perspective, Antique, and Rural Views of Churches, Chapels, Palaces, Gates, Antiquities, Ruins, Hospitals, Bridges, and Other Buildings, Public and Private; Delightful, Landscapes, Beautifull Prospects, and Captivating Situations; Besides Plans, Maps, Surveys, &c. (London, 1776). I have examined the copy of Harrison and Chamberlain in the maps and prints room of the Guildhall Library, London, which is the prime resource for the history of London.|
|143||Vanessa Harding and Priscilla Metcalf, Lloyd's at Home (London, 1986), pp. 48-49, provides a useful assemblage of views of St. Andrew Undershaft, including nineteenth century views which contradict the eighteenth century engravings.|
|144||Peter Mathias, English Trade Tokens, The Industrial Revolution Illustrated (London, 1962), p. 60: "Some now provide important architectural evidence for buildings long demolished." Bell (above, n. 10), p. : "They form a Valuable record of buildings, some still in existence; and others destroyed by fire, enemy action, or the heavy hand of 'forward looking planners'."|
|145||Harding and Metcalf (above, n. 143), p. 24.|
|146||Paul Maas, Textkritik, 4th ed. (Leipzig, 1960), p. 5.|
Coinage of the Americas Conference at the American Numismatic Society, New York City
October 29, 1994
© The American Numismatic Society, 1995
Someday I would like to write a large and wide-ranging book on counterstamped large cents. In fact, this book-to-be has been longer in the making than anything I have ever written, for in 1955, when the idea of collecting counterstamped large cents was a fresh subject in my eyes, I first dreamed of writing about the stories behind the coins. In a way, part of this book has been written, in the form of two studies, the monograph, The Strange Career of Dr. Wilkins: A Numismatic Study (1987) and the book-length effort, The Water-ford Water Cure: A Numismatic Inquiry (1992). In addition, I have written numerous articles on the subject for The Numismatist, Penny-Wise, Coin World, and other forums in print. Someday, the "big book;" for now, this study outlining features of this interesting numismatic specialty.
Counterstamps hold their secrets well, and unlike date and mint-mark varieties of regular United States coins, which are for the most part mentioned in Mint reports and correspondence and otherwise documented, few stamped pieces have left a paper trail.
It has been left up to numismatic scholars to study the pieces and learn what they can, often in connection with looking through nineteenth century directories, newspapers, and other sources. What one student or writer delineates, another builds upon. Frank G. Duffield, Maurice M. Gould, Kenneth L. Hallenbeck, Russell Rulau, and Dr.Gregory G. Brunk have each, in that order, taken the work of their predecessors one step forward. Doubtless, another generation of counterstamp enthusiasts will learn much which is presently unknown to us.
The mystique of such pieces is what makes them so interesting. It is always a thrill to find a name in a directory or other source and match it with a counterstamp seen on a cent. Sometimes I have spent a day, or several days, looking through nineteenth century printed matter without discovering a thing. But this has spurred me to look further. It wouldn't be half as much fun to collect these pieces if everything were known about them. My Waterford Water Cure and Dr. Wilkins books, each about one specific issuer of counterstamped cents, each occupied several months of my life; several very enjoyable months, I hasten to add.
Every numismatic study should have its purpose. I propose that as counterstamped coins have been interesting for me to own and collect, the purpose of this brief study is to share with you the characteristics of various large cent counterstamp types, and give sketches of several representative issuers.
Learning About Counterstamps
In 1955, I acquired a set of monthly issues of The Numismatist from 1904 to date, and as time out from my high school studies and coin dealing activities permitted, I skimmed each issue, pausing to read articles of interest. Part way through the issues of the year 1947 I encountered in the July number an article, "Counterstamped or Countermarked U.S. Large Cents," bearing Maurice M. Gould's byline.1 I read the article word by word, then read it again. By the time I encountered Gould's article I had a passing acquaintance with the subject of counterstamps in general, mostly knowledge I had gained from reading Frank G. Duffield's serial article on counterstamps which began in The Numismatist in 1919 and continued until 1921.
Counterstamped large cents seemed to be incredibly fascinating, and I had bought several dozen of them here and there, largely by writing letters to dealers who advertised in The Numismatic Scrap-book Magazine and The Numismatist. As part of the search I telephoned Mr. Gould, and he responded by sending me a selection of pieces priced on the average of a dollar each. I simply had to have all of the counterstamped large cents I could find!
Time went on, and I studied the cents in my own possession and further contemplated the listings in the 1947 Gould article. Up to that time very little had been written concerning the counterstampers themselves. Listings were comprised of the inscriptions found on the cents, and little else.
I paused to think. Why would someone counterstamp a cent, and how would they do it? In the "how would they do it?" category I realized that a long-ago counterstamper would have had to have possessed a punch or die to do the work. As making a punch or die with a name on it isn't something to be done casually just to mark a large cent or two, there must have been another purpose for creating same. What type of activities during the early nineteenth century-during the large cent era-required the use of a metal punch in the ordinary course of business?
Silversmiths! I recognized that certain punches of the hallmark type (with raised letters) that I had seen on large cents were similar in concept to the punches used by silversmiths and jewelers to mark the undersides of spoons, dishes, and other metal ware. I contacted Maurice M. Gould and mentioned this connection to him, and he suggested that I investigate further. Apparently, no one had ever thought to investigate this area.
I sought and found several guides to silversmiths' marks, and was rewarded by identifying a dozen or more on large cents! As simple as this may seem now, to a generation of numismatists schooled in the history of counerstamps, tokens, and other merchants' pieces, in 1955 it was a revelation. In a follow-up article in The Numismatist, July 1957, Gould, noting that I was a "well-known dealer" (albeit only 18 years old, which he did not mention), credited me with this finding. I was thrilled beyond all measure!
Several Collections Acquired
Sometime around 1957 Gould offered me his personal collection of counerstamps, which he had been gathering for over 25 years. I lost no time in acquiring his holding en bloc, paying something like a dollar a coin for the lot. Not long thereafter the collection of counterstamped coins formed over a long period of time by large cent specialist John Gilbody was offered to me, and I acquired it as well. By August 1959 my holding of counterstamped cents comprised slightly over 600 pieces, including 25 examples of cents counterstamped by silversmiths. As the years passed, I acquired about 1,500 more cents, probably turning down twice this number (pieces stamped with stray letters, etc., which did not fit my requirements).
In 1984 I made the acquaintance of Roy H. Van Ormer, and in 1985 I made arrangements to purchase his collection of counterstamped cents, which had been quite a few years in the making and which comprised several hundred truly outstanding pieces, plus others of peripheral interest. In 1984 and 1985 I acquired a large number of counterstamps from John J. Ford, Jr., who had purchased them years earlier from the collections of F.C.C. Boyd and Hillyer C. Ryder. In addition, John had his own interest in counterstamp, and numerous examples had been acquired here and there since the 1950s, especially during the course of his involvement with the management of the New Netherlands Coin Company.
The firm of Rossa & Tanenbaum was another source for many pieces during the 1980s, including a collection of cents stamped with eagle motifs and several dozen cents stamped with the mark of Dr. G.G. Wilkins.
It is always fun to be first on the scene and to acquire an unsorted group of counterstamps. Such an opportunity presented itself in 1989 when a hoard of nearly 200 pieces was put up for bids in Boston. The group, which had never been examined by a specialist in counterstamps, was jumbled together loosely in a box and had been gathered over a long period of years by the late Don Corrado Romano, proprietor of the Worthy Coin Company in Boston, which bought coins from the public via printed premium Price guides, à la B. Max Mehl. The hoard yielded several silversmiths' stamps and a dozen or so other prime pieces. There were, of course, quite a few coins of lesser interest, including those with stray initials and letters. However, enough scarce varieties existed to make the purchase worthwhile. My purchase was effected by Miles Coggan of the J.J. Teaparty Co.
In 1985, Dr.Gregory G. Brunk, associated with the University of Oklahoma, contacted me about my collection of counterstamped large cents. He planned to write a book on all American counterstamps, large cents and all other denominations, and wanted to come to my office to see what I had. Arrangements were concluded, and during that summer Greg spent a week in our conference room, examining a couple thousand large cents and taking detailed notes on them while selecting pieces for photography. Released in 1987, Dr. Brunk's American and Canadian Countermarked Coins was a welcome addition to the hobby and served to condense between two covers nearly all of what was known on the subject.
Large cents possess a special fascination. I am writing not of counterstamped cents, but of "ordinary" pieces bearing dates from 1793 onward. Dr. William H. Sheldon, in Early American Cents 2 wrote with authority when he stated that sooner or later the experienced numismatist will turn from other series, even ones containing great rarities, and return to the collecting of humble large cents. Such pieces, according to Sheldon, seem to possess an almost living warmth and personality not encountered in any other metal; the big cents are something more than old money; look at a handful of cents dated before 1815, when they contained relatively pure copper, and you see rich shades of green, red, brown, and even deep ebony, together with blendings of these not elsewhere matched in nature, save perhaps in autumn leaves.
Counterstamped large cents go one step further. The surfaces of early cents, usually worn to begin with, were damaged or enhanced (depending upon your viewpoint!) by being stamped with a person's name, or a silversmith's Hall mark, or a trade slogan.
Large cents were first minted in 1793 and last coined in 1857. Although counterstamping seems to have occurred from the 1790s onward, it seems likely that most activity took place from about 1830 to 1856. It was not until just a few years ago that I even saw, yet alone owned, a counterstamped large cent dated 1857.
Why did people counterstamp large cents? To begin with, cents were ubiquitous; they were everywhere, at least in the northeastern part of the United States. Cents did not circulate actively in the American West, nor were they popular in the South, and this is why cents (of the Indian design by this time) were not coined at the San Francisco Mint until 1908 and not at the Denver Mint until 1911, and never at the Carson City and New Orleans facilities. However, from Illinois eastward to Maine and south to about Virginia the Copper cent was the main coin used in everyday transactions involving small amounts of money. Substantial numbers of cents circulated in the southern areas of Canada, particularly in Ontario and Quebec during the 1850s and 1860s.
As cents (called large cents by a later generation, after the "small" cent of the Flying Eagle design reached circulation in May 1857) circulated extensively, they were carried into every area of American life, from the White House to the most humble farm dwelling, from Main Street to Wall Street. Equipped with a handful of cents in, say, the year 1830, a traveler could buy a good meal, complete with a glass of beer, stay overnight in a travelers' stop, travel on a turnpike or canal, or gain admittance to a circus. Cents were a vital part of the American scene, of everyday American life.
Traveling from hand to hand, from village to village, the typical cent saw and did many things. It was but a logical step for a tradesman or firm to realize that an advertisement stamped on a cent would cost virtually nothing to produce, would last a long time, and would be carried far and wide.
Imagine if you will a typical silversmith's shop of the early nineteenth century. On hand were one or several hallmark punches with which to mark spoons, forks, ladles, chafing dishes, porringers, and other wrought items made in the shop or purchased from a manufacturer elsewhere. Such a Hall mark was a symbol of pride, the mark of a quality product. At the same time, cents, usually worn by the passage of time, were received and spent across the counter, and carried in the workers' pockets when they bought lunch or stabled their horses. To advertise the business it took but a moment to take a copper cent, place it face upward on a firm, level surface, posi- tion the hallmark punch carefully, and whack it with a hammer. Spent a few minutes, hours, or days later, the cent was on its way to spread the word, just as leaves falling in a stream are carried downstream to the sea.
That silversmiths did such is evidenced by the many counterstamped cents known today, the vast majority of which show the hallmark punches carefully positioned on the obverse. The counterstamping was done carefully and with an eye for posterity.
Let me ask you this question: If you have your choice of one of the two following large cents, which would you pick?
1. 1831 cent in VF-30 grade, with attractive, pleasing surfaces.
2. 1831 cent in VG-8 grade, quite worn, but bearing on the obverse a counterstamp reading STONE & BALL / SYRACUSE / N.Y., having been so stamped circa 1853-54 by a partnership of jewelers comprised of Seymour H. Stone and Calvin S. Ball.
How about your choice of these two?
1. 1802 cent, Good-4 grade, attractive in all respects.
2. 1802 cent, worn nearly smooth, but counterstamped with this legend: MESCHUTTS / METROPOLITAN / COFFEE ROOM / 433. BdWAY, a souvenir of a long-forgotten restaurant in New York City City.
Or, how about picking one of these?
1. 1841 cent, VF-30 grade, attractive in every way.
2. 1841 cent, VF-20, counterstamped VOTE THE LAND / FREE, by the Free Soil Party in the election of 1848, when that group contended that America should be free from slavery.
If you picked No. 2 in each instance, you know precisely why I was attracted to counterstamped large cents years ago, and why I am still enthusiastic about them today.
While the counterstamps just mentioned have been attributed to their issuers, a far greater number remain as mysteries, although year by year more and more marks are identified. Who was the person who stamped H.S. BURGES carefully in a horizontal position on the obverses of many large cents? What was the occupation of the individual who stamped the N.J. TRACY name on a large number of coins? What type of patent medicine (if it was one) was OIL OF ICE, as advertised on large cents, and what claims were made for it?
Once a stamp has been identified through research in old directories and newspaper, or is evident from the address given on the counterstamp itself, then this question arises: What else can be learned about the counterstamper?
In my collection I have a well-worn cent of the 1836 era stamped on the obverse with the inscription: WM. GRUMBINE / COACH / MAKER / HANOVER, PA. I know nothing about Grumbine apart from what the cent tells me. I can suppose that the logotype punch used to counterstamp the cent was made for other purposes, perhaps to stamp brass fittings or ornamentation on his coaches, or to mark a maker's nameplate. What a thrill it will be if in some dark barn, or corner of some museum, a coach by Grumbine is found, and it bears this identical mark!
Such a thing happened to Roy H. Van Ormer. He owned a large cent counterstamped with the inscription: J. YOUS, otherwise unidentified. Nothing was known about Yous, and published numismatic references were of no help. Then Roy had a stroke of good fortune: He found the identical stamp on a rifle known to have been made by Joshua Yous, who practiced his trade as a gunsmith in Greencastle, Pennsylvania from 1854 to 1861. All of the sudden an ordinary countermark, undistinguished and unidentified, came to life with a history!
Counterstamps arrange themselves into three main categories. Interestingly, little attention has been paid to these categories by past writers, with the result that a survey of literature on the subject fails to disclose which names were counterstamped with what I call logotype punches and which were made with hall mark punches. The three categories are as follows:
(1) Logotype punches: Cents stamped from these punches have the lettering recessed or incuse in the surface. The vast majority of counterstamped cents were created by using logotype punches. A relatively small amount of metal had to be displaced to create a counterstamp of this nature, and the result was that a light blow from a hammer could create a distinctive notation on a coin. The inscription could be quite lengthy, as evidenced by the MESCHUTT'S / METROPOLITAN / COFFEE ROOM / 433. BdWAY mentioned earlier, and by the once-popular USE / G.G.G. / & / G.G.G.G.
Logotype punches were used in commerce by many different types of tradesmen, particularly those who worked in harder metals such as steel and brass. The common counterstamp, CAST STEEL, known in many punch variations, was originally used to mark such varied products as carpenters' tools, agricultural implements, and builders' hardware.
Most logotype punches are of single names, sometimes with the given name or initials, or initials alone, but often with just a surname. Examples of such logotype punches with initials alone include T.J.S. and S.S.K, while counterstamped cents with initials and a surname include E.C. MARSH, J. DODGE, C.C. DYER, H. REES (a Philadelphia blacksmith who also marked his wares with this stamp), and E.P. EVERETT, among thousands of others. In no more than a few percent of known counterstamps is the first name of a counterstamper represented by more than a single initial. Rare exceptions include WALLACE BARNES (a Bridgeport, Connecticut maker of clock springs, who used this stamp to mark his output) and WM. MILLER, among others.
(2) Hallmark punches: Cents stamped from these punches have the lettering raised within a small depressed rectangle or other border. It seems that the majority of hallmark punches were originally used by tradesmen who worked in softer metals such as silver, gold, copper, and pewter. These were the punches originally used to mark such wares. Examples include J. FISHER (New York City city silversmith), Hall & ELTON (Geneva, New York City silversmiths), and STONE & BALL (Syracuse, New York City jewelers).
(3) Design or motif punches: Cents stamped from these punches show objects such as eagles, dogs, and other motifs, sometimes incorporating lettering as well. Eagles are most often seen and are often from punches originally used to mark guns and other military and sporting goods.
The lettering found on counterstamps, also a subject which has not been studied earlier, can be divided into several styles:
(A) All upper case letters: This is the most often seen style, with all letters in capitals or upper case. Examples include DRAKE, O & G, BOSTON, and R. NYE.
(B) Letters in upper and lower case: This style is much rarer and usually has the initials or first letters of a name in upper case and the rest of the name in lower case. Examples include T.E. Fisk, D.L. Howland, and C.W. Heney.
(C) Italic type: A few countermarks are known in italic (or slanting) type, which may be in upper case or a combination of upper and lower case. Examples of italic names in upper case include I. KINSEY, E.O. POLLARD , and S.S. JACKMAN .
(D) Script: Very few countermarks, these usually being of the hallmark style, are known with the name of the maker expressed in script. An example is the hallmark of J.N. Hall expressed in flowing script within a border.
It may be that some future student of the series will examine counterstamps carefully, measure the height and width of the inscriptions, and note their general categories, perhaps using an outline such as that just given. A counterstamp of the 2-B style thus would be from a logotype punch and have a mixture of upper case and lower case letters.
Counterstamps were placed upon large cents for many purposes. Here are some reasons that come to mind:
1. Advertising: Seeking to advertise their trade to a wide audience, many different types of businesses stamped cents, making them virtual "little billboards." Patent medicine compounders, hotel owners, jewelers, doctors, restaurateurs, and others marked cents with their names and, occasionally, with their addresses. Some advertisers used punches made expressly for the purpose of counterstamping large cents (and other coins). Such stamps were designed so that the inscriptions fit easily within the boundaries of a cent's surface, and were used so prolifically that it seems that advertising on cents was the primary purpose of creating such a punch. Well-known examples include DR. G.G. WILKINS (a Pittsfield, New Hampshire dentist whose logotype punch features his name in a curved arc, so as to fit conveniently in the field of a cent in front of Miss Liberty's face) and DEVINS / & / BOLTON / MONTREAL (druggists who advertised extensively on Canadian and American copper coins).
2. Metalsmitbs: Silversmiths, jewelers, gunsmiths, munitions makers, manufacturers of tools, stencil makers, and others who used logotype or hallmark punches in the ordinary course of business to mark manufactured items often employed these same punches on large cents. While some metalsmiths undoubtedly intended to advertise, probably a larger number of individuals simply marked cents as a whim. Certainly the many known stray stampings of CAST STEEL, often seen on cents, without an accompanying name, indicate that this practice was prevalent. Related are stray stampings of place names such as Boston, New York, etc. Motif punches, such as dogs, sunbursts, eagles, deer, etc. were intended for other purposes (such as marking munitions, toys, and other products) but were sometimes impressed upon cents.
3. Political: A few varieties of counterstamps were issued for political purposes, prominent among these being the Free Soil Party's VOTE THE LAND FREE marking.
4. Commemorative: The Washington-Lafayette counterstamp of 1824, issued to mark the return visit to the United States of the French hero of the American Revolution, is in this category.
4. Commerce: Some cents were stamped for use in commerce, as tokens for drayage or transportation fares, with numbers for use as baggage, key, or claim checks, or with other markings for use as receipts. As these usually lack addresses, they are difficult to identify. Thus, a holed cent marked "E.H. 123" may have been attached to a key for room 123 of the Eagle Hotel, but in the absence of other information, we will never know for sure.
5. Revaluation: Cents exist with counterstamps relating to the West Indies, and the suggestion has been made that these were so stamped to permit American large cents to circulate there at specified values.
6. Personal: Some individuals may have expended money to create logotype or hallmark stamps with their names, in order to counterstamp coins, but this scenario is highly unlikely. I mention it here as this category offers a popular explanation for otherwise unknown names. I suggest, however, that otherwise unidentified names on cents were marked by persons who possessed punches for other reasons. In this category are certainly the numerous punches which were too large to completely fit on a cent's surface, so that only a part of the inscription could be transferred. Such punches obviously were made for purposes other than stamping cents.
7. Overstrikes: Large cents were sometimes used as planchets for tokens and medals or to test dies of these. Certain varieties of Hard Times tokens are known overstruck on large cents, for example, as are certain medals struck by J.A. Bolen, Springfield, MA diesinker. Several different clothing button designs are known stamped on early cents, possibly to test punches.
8. Whimsy: Mention should also be made of stray letters, numbers, and other markings sometimes seen on cents, as well as names, memorial inscriptions, etc. stamped on cents one letter at a time for souvenir purposes. As these were not made from prepared multiple-letter logotype or hallmark punches they are more in the category of so-called "love tokens" and are mostly one-of-a-kind.
9. Fantasies: In recent decades some enterprising individuals have counterstamped cents with modern punches pertaining to Wells Fargo, Texas, western saloons, etc. to create pieces to sell to collectors. These have little value or interest to the serious numismatist.
Large cents first appeared in circulation in 1793, and it is probable that soon thereafter certain pieces were counterstamped. The practice of counterstamping coins was in vogue by that time, and many foreign coins were marked by silversmiths, goldsmiths, jewelers, and others. Some of these individuals also marked large cents once they became prevalent in American circulation.
Judging from the dates seen on extant counterstamped cents, and making due allowance for the fact that earlier-dated cents are in general harder to find than later-dated ones, it is still obvious that most counterstamping activity took place after about 1830, with the height of activity probably being in the 1850s.
Large cents were minted continuously from 1793 to 1857, with the solitary exception of the year 1815. The Act of February 21, 1857, provided for the replacement of the large cent with the new Flying Eagle design. The retirement of earlier-dated cents began immediately. I believe it probable that most counterstamping of large cents ended by early 1857, and as evidence of this I point to the fact that in the course of examining approximately 10,000 counterstamped large cents over the years, I have only encountered one large cent bearing the date 1857! In 1857, the public was aware that such coins were to be withdrawn. Thus, there was no point in counterstamping them and passing them along in circulation.
A survey of 3,348 counterstamped cents was conducted by the author in 1990.3 In theory, the number of counterstamps surviving from a particular year should be in proportion to the number of cents struck bearing that year's date, but in practice there are many discrepancies. This would seem to verify that die dating was not strictly observed at the Mint in the early years, and it was common practice to use dies on hand from previous years, until they became worn or broken.
The following figures may well be of interest to large cent collectors in general. Note, for example, the findings on the rarity of cents dated 1808. The survey of surviving counterstamped cents in this sample yielded the following distribution of dates:
Dates in the 1790s: 1793 (4), 1794 (8), 1795 (12), 1796 (6), 1797 (16), 1798 (34), 1799 (none).
Commentary: The 1793 cents included two Chain cents and two Wreath cents. Considering the size of the sample, the distribution of the cent dates is about as expected, except for 1793, for which the ratio is higher. The larger number of 1793 cents may be explained by the fact that worn examples with counterstamps, even though they would have been considered "damaged," were saved from circulation by collectors in the cradle days of numismatics in the 1840s and 1850s, when other earlier counterstamps would have been ignored.
Dates in the 1800s: 1800 (18), 1801 (30), 1802 (61), 1803 (101), 1804 (1), 1805 (16), 1806 (19), 1807 (33), 1808 (8), 1809 (4).
Commentary: According to the mintage figures published in the Guide Book of U.S. Coins, the following quantities were originally coined: 1800: 2,822,175; 1801: 1,362,837; 1802: 3,435,100; 1803: 3,131,691; 1804: 96,500; 1805: 941,116; 1806: 348,000; 1807: 829,221; 1808: 1,007,000; and 1809: 222,867. The ratio of surviving counterstamps does not match the published mintage figures, perhaps indicating that the mintage figure for 1806 in particular is too low, for it seems to be more plentiful than 1805. Cents dated 1808 should be about four times more plentiful than those dated 1809, but this is not reflected by the number of surviving pieces. It seems likely that the published mintage for 1808 included cents bearing one or more earlier dates, with 1807 being a glaringly obvious candidate. It becomes increasingly apparent that the survival ratio of counterstamped cents may be a guide to original mintages.4
Dates in the 1810s: 1810 (31), 1811 (4), 1812 (11), 1813 (6), 1814 (23), 1816 (56), 1817 (84), 1818 (91), 1819 (53)
Commentary: There are no surprises here. There is a nice correlation between the earlier-mentioned 1809, with a mintage of 222,867 and 4 surviving counterstamps, and the 1811, of which 218,025 were made, and of which 4 counterstamps were also seen in the sample. Further, unlike surveys that might be made of unmarked cents in collectors' hands, the preceding data are not affected by the survival of thousands of Randall Hoard cents (dated 1816-20), as none was counterstamped.
Dates in the 1820s: 1820 (44), 1821 (28), 1822 (65), 1823 (18), 1824 (34), 1825 (27), 1826 (35), 1827 (56), 1828 (62), 1829 (28).
Commentary: More 1821-dated counterstamps exist than the low mintage of 389,000 would seem to imply, suggesting that coins dated 1821 may have been included in the mintage of 1822 or later years. For example, the 1821 (mintage: 389,000 as noted; 28 counterstamps surveyed) and 1825 (mintage: 1,461,100; 27 counterstamps surveyed) do not square with each other. Additional comparisons could be given.
Dates in the 1830s: 1830 (42), 1831 (110), 1832 (56), 1833 (35), 1834 (31), 1835 (81), 1836 (40), 1837 (133), 1838 (137), 1839 (65).
Commentary: The ratios of surviving counterstamps and the original mintage figures seem to be fairly consistent.
Dates in the 1840s: 1840 (65), 1841 (33), 1842 (71), 1843 (48), 1844 (45), 1845 (63), 1846 (86), 1847 (109), 1848 (151), 1849 (100)
Commentary: The ratios of surviving counterstamps and the original mintage figures seem to be fairly consistent.
Dates in the 1850s: 1850 (83), 1851 (198), 1852 (83), 1853 (172), 1854 (94), 1855 (38), 1856 (62), 1857 (1)
Commentary: The ratios of surviving counterstamps and the original mintage figures seem to be fairly consistent, except for the dramatic rarity of 1857 cents, of which the author has only seen a single example. The rarity of the 1857 may be explained by two factors: (1) Most of the 333,456 reported minted may never have been released, and (2) By early 1857 the public was aware that oldstyle "large" cents would soon be a thing of the past, and there was no longer any point in counterstamping them for advertising or publicity purposes.
The number of known early-dated counterstamps cannot be directly compared to the number of known later-dated examples, as the longer a cent remained in circulation, the more opportunities it had to be counterstamped. Thus a cent dated early in the 1800s had been in circulation for many decades by the 1850s and had been subjected to many opportunities to be stamped. On the other hand, if we are to assume that widespread counterstamping of large cents diminished sharply after 1856, then a cent dated 1851, for example, would have had just five years of opportunity for stamping by that time.
There are, however, exceptions to the preceding, and among them are the two most prolific counterstamps in North America. The stamp of Dr. G.G. Wilkins, of Pittsfield, New Hampshire, is believed to have been applied mostly from about 1857 through the early 1860s, using earlier-dated large cents, and the stamp of Devins & Bolton, Montreal druggists, was primarily applied in the 1860s, during which time there was an abundant supply of United States large cents in Canada.
Most counterstamped cents that have a stamp just on one side have it on the obverse.
A survey of several thousand counterstamped large cents yielded the following:
A. Counterstamped on obverse only: 81%
B. Counterstamped on reverse only: 10%
C. Counterstamped on obverse and reverse: 9%
If "C" category is eliminated, and these coins are added to both the "A" and "B" categories, the following distribution emerges:
Counterstamped on obverse (some have reverse stamp too): 91%
B. Counterstamped on reverse (some have obverse stamp too): 18%
In 1990 Dr. Brunk did a similar survey,5 but one involving all types of coins (not just
large cents), and limited just to countermarks referring specifically to advertising. His data are as follows:
A. Counterstamped on obverse
B. Counterstamped on reverse only: 11%
C. Counterstamped on obverse and reverse: 3%
His survey shows a higher percentage of obverse-only stamps, which would seem logical for pieces specifically counterstamped for advertising purposes. Such pieces tended to be stamped more carefully than those with stray names.
The stamp MESCHUTT'S / METROPOLITAN / COFFEE ROOM / 433. BdWAY is large and contains many letters. The stamper found that the logotype punch was best impressed upon well-worn large cents with fairly smooth surfaces, as is evidenced by surviving pieces. Most coins observed have the counterstamp sharp but the host coin worn nearly smooth, indicating that the stamp was applied to a well-worn coin. Had the stamp been applied to a sharply defined coin which then spent years in circulation after having been stamped, the counterstamp would be worn away to a greater extent than is evident.
Dr. G.G. Wilkins created two stamps with his name, DR. G.G. WILKINS, curved in an arc to match the space on the obverse field of a large cent just in front of Miss Liberty's face, and in that location he applied the vast majority of his counterstamps. VOTE THE LAND / FREE was created on a stamp to fit nicely on the surface of a large cent, as were several other advertising or political punches.
It was the practice of many silversmiths to place their punch carefully on the obverse of a cent, right on the head of Miss Liberty, because this was the thickest part of the coin and thus was the best area to receive the deeply impressed hallmark. Also, in this position the hallmark could be better seen by subsequent owners of the cent.
The stamps of H.S. BURGES and B. PARKER usually were placed in a horizontal position on the obverse of cents, although Burges was less careful and often placed some of his diagonally. Each was a fairly wide logotype punch, and care had to be taken so that the complete punch would be placed across the cent. The H. REES counterstamp applied by Henry Rees, a Philadelphia blacksmith, was nearly always situated on the obverse of a cent at the top of Miss Liberty's head.
It is a dangerous practice to call anything "first," for the moment such reaches print, someone discovers something to antedate it. However, it is certainly correct to state that Edouard Frossard's October 6, 1892 catalogue of the Collection of Joseph Hooper, Esq., Part II and Addenda, contained one of the most extensive listings of counterstamped large cents to appear in a sale catalogue up to that date.6
Frossard, born in Switzerland in 1837, came to America in 1858, and by 1872 was a member of the numismatic collecting fraternity.7 In 1876 he became editor of the Coin Collector's Journal, published by J.W. Scott Stamp & Coin Co. In 1877 his own house organ, Numisma, made its debut and quickly became a point of controversy and discussion, as Frossard gave his unvarnished views of his competition and the contemporary numismatic scene, all of this in a day before libel suits were in vogue. His first auction sale, bearing the date of September 6, 1878, inaugurated a series which would eventually comprise 175 such events, including 15 conducted by his son after Frossard's death in 1899. Frossard is remembered today as a leading scholar of his era, particularly in the field of United States large cents, and as a competent catalogue. By 1892, when the two Hooper sales were conducted, Frossard was among the leaders in the numismatic profession and was widely respected.
His consignor, Joseph Hooper, a prominent numismatist of his era, lived in Port Hope, Ontario, Canada, and was a frequent contributor to The Numismatist, his "Hooper's Restrikes' column attracting especial attention. He later served as President of the American Numismatic Association from 1898 until he was succeeded by Dr.Benjamin P. Wright, a prominent collector of tokens, in 1901. Like many other collectors of his era, Hooper's interests were eclectic.
The title page of the auction catalogue in question, Part II of the Hooper Collection sold as Frossard's 113th sale on October
6, 1892, reflected the diversity of the consignor's numismatic interests and noted that the sale
Coins and medals of Canada, gold, silver and bronze coins of ancient Greece and Rome; silver coins of Brunswick, Venice, and other countries; foreign
English war medals; tradesmen's penny and halfpenny tokens; American and foreign medals and tokens; Bolen's
medallic issues; United States dollars, cents, half cents; rare colonial coins; gold coins of Ferdinand and Isabella; Vernon
medals; numismatic works; coin cabinets.
The sale of 502 lots, stated to be "without reserve," was conducted by Messrs. George A. Leavitt & Co., auctioneers with premises at 787 and 789 Broadway, New York City City, at 2:00 in the afternoon of Thursday, October 6, 1892. Lots could be examined by prospective bidders on the day of the sale from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Leavitt Art Gallery. It was the custom of the time for a professional numismatist, such as Frossard, to prepare the sale catalogue, and for the auction itself to be held by a separate auction gallery.
The group of counterstamped cents was described as follows:
[Lot No.] 416. U.S.
CENTS. Old copper issues, 1816-1845 (the greater part early dates), punched or relief counterstamps, as circulated by firms
in the States
and Canada. The following is an alphabetical list of names: M.A.
Abbey; Barnes & Potter, New York City,
1835; Boston; A. Bell; O.P. Bell;
W.H. Bailey; H.S. Burges; J. Bruso; W.
Burdt; N. Boothe; A. Chapin; Cast Steel; J.W. Carr; A.F. Craig; C.H. Davis; D.O.
Danforth; Devins & Bolton, Montreal; D.E.
Downs; Evans Old Change, London; E.P. Everett; G. Gerry, Athol, Mass.; I.E. Gerrish; Green; G.F. Gray; F. Gibson; G.J. Guild; C.N. Gilbert; Glynn; J.W. Graham;
Growel; C.G. Hayes; A.C. Hilton; C. Hall; H. Kellogg; A. Kline; I. King; E.F.
Light; E. Leach; J.C. Libby; A.W. Loomis; C.O. Longley; G.A. Learned; Metr. Coffee Room, Bway, N.Y.; E.S. Mead; J.F. McKenny,
Gunsmith, Saco; E.C. March; Moses; G.W. Minott; C. Munson; Oliver; A. Page; C.C. Paige; C.W. Payne; M. Perrin; James Porter;
J.D. Powell; Putnam
Cast Steel; P.M. Ring; J. Russell; J.H. Root; G. Starbird; Stickler; J.H. Smith; S.
Swart; A.H. Somers; A.D. Sweetser; S W.M. Stuart;
L.L. Squire; R.E. Taylor; W. Taylor; N.J.
Tracy; Tryon; A.J. Tutle; H.P.
Tyrrel; Use G.G.G. and G.G.G.G.; Dr. G.G.Wilkins;
F.D. Warner; A.D. Webster; A.N. Wheeler; Young the Magician; also letters, two varieties of eagles, hound, shield, etc. Unique
collection, highly interesting to
collectors of American tokens and coins of the Jacksonian period. No duplicates, struck on very fair to fine
Cents and two half Cents. 133 pcs.
The lot of counterstamped pieces realized five cents per coin, for a total of $6.65, a Price consistent with the valuation of unmarked cents of the period. In other words, the counterstamping neither added to nor detracted from the value. In the same sale four die varieties of unmarked 1826 cents, Good and Very Good grades, fetched five cents each, as did three examples of non-stamped 1837 cents, each Very Good.
Frossard was somewhat careless in his cataloguing, or perhaps in the proofreading of what he had written, for "J.F. McKenny" should have been J.F. McKenney, "E.C. March" was really E.C. Marsh, "A.D. Sweetser" was given instead of the correct A.D. Sweetsir, and A.J. Tuttle was listed incorrectly as "A.J. Tutle." Eighty specific counterstamps were enumerated, plus "letters" (Apparently coins stamped with stray letters), two varieties of eagles, a hound, a shield, and the enigmatic "etc." Which counterstamps appeared on the two half cents in the lot was not disclosed.
What happened to the Hooper counterstamps is not known. Perhaps they were retained as a lot and remain today in some dusty corner of an attic, or in a safe deposit box, unnoticed and forgotten. Or, more likely, they were dispersed and exist today in scattered collections of persons other than counterstamp specialists. At least a few of the coins have been forgotten, for they were unknown to Duffield, Gould, Hallenbeck, and Brunk, all of whom were apparently unaware of Frossard's catalogue listing. For example, Brunk knew of the YOUNG / THE / MAGICIAN stamp on an 1841 dime, an 1842 half dollar, and on Spanish-American silver two-real pieces dated 1774 and 1809, but not on a large cent as owned by Hooper.
Another early listing of counterstamped cents is represented by the May 1914 issue of Collector's Blue Book, which
contained information sent by Walter B. Gould, of Winterport, Maine. The writer stated
that he had accumulated two bushels of large cents, and by the time that he wrote to the editor he had found "between 80 and
100 that have
names die-sunk on them."8 The following stamps were reported on cents dated from 1818 to 1855:
Names: J.A. Allen;
R.B. Arell; F. Bascom; Cast Steel (three examples); J. Collett; F.J. Damon, Patent; G. Delano; Devins & Bolton, Montreal;
J.M. Fardy; O.J. Fitch; P.
Fonan; E.L. Fuler; E.B. Gilman; T.J. Gorgers; Griswold & Co.; J. Haitt; E.W. Loomis; E.
McNamara; J.O. Megquire; J.N. Melon; New York City; N. Newton; Norman, Boston; B. Parker (four examples); Patten; Orren Peavey; F.J. Philbrook; H.K. Porter; C.
Rich; E.E. Robbins; J. Hoyt Rowland; V. Royal;
W.J. Scott; A.B. Seymore; C.A. Strange; J.W. Strange; Frank E. Thompson, Boston; 23 Steel;
U.S. VII; Use G.G.G. & G.G.G.G.; L.N. Watts; N.B. Webb; W.C. Webber; L.S. Whe; Dr. G.G.
Wilkins; M. Wilson; and B.H.Woods. (Total: 52)
Initials (alphabetically by first inital):9
C.F.C.; D.C.S. & H.B.B.; D.N.D.; E. & R.; E.B.H.; E.N.D.; E.W.R.; F.W.; G.C.C.; H.F.C. & H.P.C.;
I.E.B. & J.F.G.; J. & G.; J.B.P.; J.F.G.; J.R.B.; J.W.; T.J.S.; S.S.K. & C.N.C.; T.A.L.; T.F.F.R.; U.S.D.; W.A.; W.D.J.; W.H.;
and W.W. (25)
Date: 1801 (1)
Grand total: (78)
Common to both the Hooper and Gould holdings were these counterstamps: Cast Steel; Devins & Bolton, Montreal; Use G.G.G. & G.G.G.G.; and Dr. G.G. Wilkins. This fits in with logic, for today the most plentiful of all large cent counterstamps are those bearing the Devins & Bolton imprint, with Dr. G.G. Wilkins pieces close behind. CAST STEEL is an imprint known to the extent of dozens of impressions.
The disposition of Walter B. Gould's coins is unknown, but unlike the Hooper Collection coins catalogued by Edouard Frossard, the listing of the Gould coins has been incorporated into the writing of later researchers.
So far as I am aware, Maurice M. Gould, co-owner with Frank Washburn of the Copley Coin Co. in Boston, was the only person in the 1950s who made a specialty of collecting counterstamped large cents.10 I engaged in far-ranging correspondence with dealers, collectors, and numismatic societies at the time, and no one else ever stepped forward to claim an interest.
Gould was more of a casual than an intense collector, but over a period of 25 years he had accumulated several hundred pieces, most as gifts from dealers and collectors who knew of his interest.
Kenneth Hallenbeck, who like Gould contributed several articles on the subject to the numismatic press, was by the 1960s, and perhaps even before, a collector of such pieces.
Both Gould and Hallenbeck formed collections of several hundred coins or more, and arranged them in order. In the 1980s Roy Van Ormer collected hundreds of pieces and was probably the main buyer of counterstamped cents in auctions and mail bid sales during the early part of that decade. Steve Tanenbaum formed a date collection of large cents and other coins with the DR. G.G. WILKINS imprint. Several collectors, and the museum collection of the Bank of Canada, have formed holdings of counterstamped large cents and other coins bearing the imprint: DEVINS / & / BOLTON / Montreal. Canadian dealer Warren Baker informed me that the Bank of Canada reference collection comprises over 300 pieces attributed to this issuer.
Other collectors of counterstamped cents mentioned in the present text, including Hillyer C. Ryder, F.C.C. Boyd, John Jay Ford, Jr., Oscar G. Schilke, Jules Reiver, and John Gilbody, among others, collected counterstamped large cents as a sideline but not as their main numismatic interest. A major boost in appreciation for counterstamps occurred in the 1980s when Krause Publications issued Russell Rulau's series of Price guides to early American tokens, and listed counterstamped coins among them. The publication of Brunk's American and Canadian Countermarked Coins in 1987 increased interest even further.
Several sketches of specific counterstamped large cents are given below, representative of the research that beckons to the interested collector; as will be noted, the G.G.G. and Washington-Lafayette counterstamps are still in the "to be continued" category.
(A typical patent medicine)
When I began collecting counterstamped large cents in 1955, among the first items I acquired were several pieces counterstamped with the enigmatic slogan, USE / G.G.G. / & / G.G.G.G. What all of these Gs stood for was anyone's guess. The conjecture of Maurice M. Gould was that it was an advertisement for Goddard's Great Goose Grease, and that the abbreviated counterstamp sometimes seen, USE / G.G.G., represented Goddard's Goose Grease. This contention was repeated by Russell Rulau in his book, American Merchants Tokens, 1845-1860.
Why anyone would want goose grease is a matter for debate, but in the nineteenth century it was apparently popular, at least in certain quarters. A dictionary-size hardbound catalogue, McKesson & Robbins' Prices Current, 1883, indeed lists non-branded goose grease at the wholesale Price of 75 cents per pound. It seems reasonable that someone named Goddard might have sold goose grease just like McKesson & Robbins did, and implored American citizens to partake of the benefits of the grease by stamping United States cents with the suggestion "USE / G.G.G."
Another theory suggested that one of the Gs stood for gonorrhea, and that G.G.G. and its expanded cousin, G.G.G.G., were cures for this unfortunate affliction in the days before penicillin.
Although cents dated as early as 1798 are known with one or the other of these counterstamps, most cents and other pieces, including silver denominations as small as the three-cent coin, are from the 1840s and 1850s, particularly the 1850s, with the latest known coin being a large cent dated 1857. No Flying Eagle and Indian cents are known with these impressions. It seems probable to me that the counterstamping of "USE / G.G.G.," and "USE / G.G.G. / & / G.G.G.G." inscriptions took place in the decade of the 1850s, until and including 1857, and probably occurred mainly circa 1854-57 using current as well as earlier-dated coins.
In 1985 when Brunk visited my office in connection with the research he was doing for his book on counterstamps (he preferred the word countermarks), among the subjects we discussed was the meaning of G.G.G. and G.G.G.G. Neither of us had any new ideas. In 1987 his manuscript was completed, and the printing deadline drew near. It was anticipated that alphabetically under the "G" category in the Brunk book would appear a listing for G.G.G. and G.G.G.G., probably with the notation that the meaning of these terms was not known, and that a theory or two had been proposed. As the G.G.G. and G.G.G.G. counterstamps were well known and as nearly every collector of counterstamps beyond the dilettante stage had one or several pieces, it was indeed unfortunate that the maker could not be identified.
Enter Robert Sagers, a California collector of counterstamps, who at the last minute—just before the book went to press—located a worn 1838 cent which provided the answer. The mystery was solved!
When Brunk's book, American and Canadian Countermarked Coins, appeared in print in 1987, on
page 75 this notation was included:
G.G.G. GOODWIN'S GRAND GREASE JUICE. For one hundred years collectors have argued about what was advertised by
the slogan USE G.G.G. Maurice Gould advanced the popular theory that the initials mean "Goddard's Goose Grease,"
while others have claimed that this is a gonorrhea cure. Robert Sagers has solved the problem, causing us to stop
the presses to include his identification. He has just found a large cent with a longer slogan reading USE / GOODWIN'S / GRAND
/ GREASE JUICE / FOR THE HAIR / G.G.G.11
Separately, Mr. Sagers corresponded with me about his find and sent me a photograph of it.
Time passed, and in October 1989, I received a catalogue from Coin Galleries describing coins to be offered in a mail bid
sale closing on
November 15. Lo and behold! Lot 2983 was described as follows:
2983. GOODWIN'S / GRAND / GREASE JUICE / FOR THE
HAIR / G.G.G. c/s in five lines on obverse of an 1840 large cent. (Brunk '15395'). Apparently the second known
specimen. Stamp complete, coin Very Good with full date. (The word "USE" was inadvertently omitted from the catalogue description.)
I sent in my bid and won the lot for $300 plus 10% buyer's fee, or $330, probably a world's record Price for an 1840 cent worn nearly smooth! However, the all-important Goodwin's notation was on the face of the coin, and this made the difference. Here was the second known specimen, a piece slightly finer than the Sager coin dated 1838.
The story might have ended here, but it didn't. At the Coinage of the Americas Conference on October 29, 1994, following a presentation related to this present article, there was a question-and-answer period. Dr.George Fuld commented rather casually that G.G.G. coins were listed in Horatio Storer's book published more than a half century ago, Medicina in Nummis.12 When I returned home, I secured a copy by mail from the American Numismatic Association Library in Colorado Springs. Lo and behold! Storer identified G.G.G. as his No. 7446, "Godwin's [sic] Grand Grease Juice (for the hair), USA."! This goes to show that history, and, often, numismatic research, goes in circles!
Storer cited the appearance of the mark on a large cent dated 1836 and a quarter dollar of 1876. In view of later surveys, I cannot help but think that the 1876 date was recorded in error, and that a well-worn quarter of an earlier date was intended.13
Goodwin's Grand Grease Juice must have been a pomade or oil for the hair, an early-day version of "greasy kid stuff." As unappealing as the brand name may seem today, in the nineteenth century it fit right in with other nostrums. Goodwin's Grand Grease Juice equated nicely with G.G.G. and solved the riddle, except why weren't the initials given as G.G.G.J., or was "juice" a generic description suggesting that the grease was in juice form? And what about the related G.G.G.G. product; what did the extra G stand for?
Then there was the matter of Goodwin. Who was he? From previous excursions into the field of research for patent medicines I knew that most such potions and lotions were compounded in the northeastern United States. In particular, the state of Massachusetts was a hotbed of activity in this regard. Ayer's Sarsaparilla advertised on encased postage stamps. Lydia Pinkham plastered newspapers nationwide with advertisements for her cures for female ills. Moxie Nerve Food claimed to heal just about every affliction known to mankind. They all hailed from the Bay State.
A shelf in my library is devoted to New England directories of the mid-nineteenth century, and before checking listings for New York City City and other northeastern locations I headed for the New England bookshelf to see what I could find. First in hand was The Boston Directory for the year 1852. In keeping with the era's penchant for ornateness and embellishment, I should mention that the full name of the book as given on the title page is The Boston Directory for the Year 1852, Embracing the City Record, a General Directory of the Citizens, and a Business Directory, with an Almanac, from July, 1852, to July, 1853, published in Boston by George Adams, No. 91 Washington Street, 1852.
Scanning the volume, I located on page 107 some 41 different Goodwins who lived in Boston. Benjamin Goodwin, a grocer, lived on Ferry Wharf; Elisha Goodwin, a broker, did business at 17 Brattle Square and lived in Cambridge, etc. Piquing my interest was one particular entry: "Goodwin, Geo. C. chemist, 97 Union, h. at Lexing." Here was a Goodwin who was a chemist (the nomenclature at the time for an apothecary or pharmacist) and who might indeed have sold patent medicine. Nearly all pharmacists did. His business was located at 97 Union, and he made his home in the Boston suburb of Lexington.
Skipping ahead a few years in time I found that The New England Business Directory for the year 1856, also published by Adams, listed under "medicines" on page 217 the following: "Goodwin, G.C. 99 Union." This listing was in good company with Holman's Nature's Grand Restorative (located at 77 Cornhill), Putnam's Eradicative (456 Washington), Wright's Indian Vegetable Pills (43 Hanover), and other purveyors of cure-alls.
The next Boston Directory in my library was dated 1860 and contained entries as of July 1,
1859. Here I had some real luck, for on page 8 was a quarter-page notice reading:
Geo. C. Goodwin & Co., Nos. 11 and 12 Marshall St., two doors from Union St. Have on hand, and offer for sale
at the very lowest prices, the most extensive stock of Foreign and American PATENT MEDICINE, Perfumery, Hair Preparations,
Miscellaneous Articles, to be found in New England. Depot for Goodwin's Root and Herb Pills, Dr. Langley's Root and Herb Bitters, Dr. Langley's Italian Hair Dye, and General
Agency for all Popular Medicines.
Here was George C. Goodwin & Co., seller of patent medicines, who specifically advertised "hair preparations," obviously an excellent candidate for the source of Goodwin's Grand Grease Juice for the hair. Unfortunately, no trade names of Goodwin's hair preparations were mentioned, so I can only surmise that G.G.G. was among them.
On page 171 of the same 1860 directory it was stated that George C. Goodwin & Co. was owned by William B. Hibbard, who lived in Charlestown. On page 171 it was stated that Hibbard boarded at 41 Hanover. George C. Goodwin himself was not to be found in the listing of citizens. Perhaps he had relocated to another place in life or death.
A Business Directory of the Subscribers to the New Map of Maine
, undated (ca. 1862),14 contained a one-third page advertisement which stated that Goodwin, located at 11 Marshall Street, Boston, offered:
...the largest and
most complete stock of American and foreign patent medicines, hair dyes, hair preparations, toilet articles, perfumery, soaps,
rubber goods, druggists' glassware, cigars, and apothecaries' articles to be found in the New England States, and at the very lowest prices.
Goodwin furnished a partial list of nostrums made by other firms, for which Goodwin acted as a sales outlet: Brandreth's Pills, Wright's Pills, Ayer's Pills, Moffatt's Pills, Herrick's Pills, Langley's Bitters, Richardson's Bitters, Burnett's Cocoaine, Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup, Marshall's Snuff, Parson's Rat Exterminator, Wood's Hair Restorative, Russia Salve, McLanes Vermifuge and Pills, Ayer's Cherry Pectoral, Ayer's Sarsaparila, Kennedy's Discovery, Brown's Troches, Mustang Liniment, Schenck's Syrup, Peruvian Syrup, Bininger's liquors, Wolfe's Schnapps, Fahnestock's Vermifuge, Lyon's Kathairon, Haynes' Balsam, Wistar's Balsam, and Pin-Worm Syrup. No mention was made here of G.G.G., G.G.G.G., or any other products originated by Goodwin.15
A separate advertisement in the same publication by Dr. J.W. Poland & Co., proprietors of The White Pine Compound, named Goodwin as its general distribution agent.16
The New England Business Directory for 1868 listed George C. Goodwin & Co. at 38 Hanover, an entry which was also seen in directories dated 1871, 1875, and 1877 (I do not possess directories for the intervening years). The 1875 and 1877 directories noted that the firm was an agent for Colton's select flavors used for cooking.
Looking elsewhere in my library I located a copy of For Bitters Only, a book by Carlyn Ring, which describes varieties of patent medicine bottles known as bitters, typically consisting of flavoring laced with alcohol, Drake's Plantation Bitters being a prominent example. Under the entry for Indian Vegetable and Sarsaparilla Bitters it was noted that this elixir was produced by George C. Goodwin & Co. and that the author had located the firm's advertising notices for years beginning in 1846 and continuing until about 1890. George C. Goodwin, Ring said, had begun his business career in 1840 as a grocer, going into the wholesale druggist trade in the 1850s. As we have seen earlier, by 1860 the firm was owned by William B. Hibbard. During the 1870-90 period the owners were Charles C. Good and F.B. Webster. (Going back to the 1860 Boston Directory I located a listing for F.B. Webster, who worked at 11 Marshall [the Goodwin address] and boarded at 41 Hanover, the same lodging address given for William B. Hibbard.)
Later, through the kindness of Anne Bentley, I spent a day at the Massachusetts Historical Society, where I consulted Boston directories of all years from 1840 through 1860. A year-by-year synopsis follows:
1840: George C. Goodwin is affiliated with Byam & Goodwin, a match factory operated with Ezekiel Byam, at Union, corner of Blackstone. His home was at 17 Minot.
1841: Goodwin is listed as an agent of the North American Patent Friction Match Co., with business premises at Union, corner of Blackstone. Byam is not listed in 1841, but it was not unusual for Boston directories to skip a person's listing for year or two, even though he or she had no change of address in the meantime.
1842: Goodwin's listing is the same as 1841. Ezekiel Byam is listed as the operator of a variety store at 76 Union.
1843: Goodwin is listed as an agent of the North American Patent Friction Match Co. at 76 Union. Byam is not listed.
1844: Goodwin is listed as a seller of drugs and medicine at 76 Union.
1845: Goodwin's listing is the same as the preceding year.
1846: Goodwin is listed as a druggist at 76 Union. His house is in Charlestown.
1847: Goodwin is listed as "druggist and friction match depot." His business and residence addresses were unchanged.
1848: Goodwin is listed as "medicines." Addresses were unchanged. About Byam: an advertisement was carried for E. Byam's Match Depot at 66 Union Street, "manufacturer of the American Patent Friction Match Co.'s card, block, and all kinds of round Wood and paper box matches." The firm also made Byam & Washington matches. The following year, 1849, Byam advertised matches "with and without brimstone." In 1850 Byam, Bruce & Co.'s March Depot was located at 66 Union Street, Boston, with a branch at 37 Light Street, Baltimore.
1849: Goodwin is not listed.
1850: Goodwin is listed as a chemist (druggist) at 76 Union, with his home in Charlestown.
1851: Goodwin's listing is the same as the preceding year.
1852: Goodwin is listed as a chemist at 97 Union, with his home in Lexington.
1853: Goodwin's listing is the same as the preceding year.
1854: Goodwin's listing is the same as the preceding year.
1855: Goodwin is listed as a seller of medicine and fancy goods at 99 Union, with his home in Lexington.
1856: Goodwin's listing is the same as the preceding year.
1857: George C. Goodwin's business is operated by William B. Hilliard, and is listed as medicines and fancy goods at 11 and 12 Marshall Street, two doors from Union Street. Goodwin's home is listed as Charlestown.
1858: The Goodwin listing is the same as the preceding year.
1859: The Goodwin listing is the same as the preceding year.
1860: The Goodwin listing is the same as the preceding year.
Fearing that trivial details might get out of hand, I propose to stop giving citations at this point, and to summarize the situation:
1. Two United States one-cent pieces are known to me, one dated 1838 and the other 1840, stamped with the inscription "USE / GOODWIN'S / GRAND / GREASE JUICE / FOR THE HAIR / G.G.G." In addition, Storer recorded an 1836-dated cent when he did his research for Medicina in Nummis.
2. Numerous cents and other coins are known stamped with the inscriptions "USE / G.G.G." and "USE / G.G.G. / & / G.G.G.G.," the latest of which is dated 1857.
3. The counterstamping of the "USE / G.G.G." and "USE / G.G.G. / & / G.G.G.G." pieces probably took place circa 1854-57. The counterstamping of the "USE / GOODWIN'S / GRAND / GREASE JUICE / FOR THE HAIR / G.G.G." pieces took place in 1840 or later, probably antedating the other G.G.G. counterstamps.
4. G.G.G. stands for Goodwin's Grand Grease (Juice), a preparation for the hair. What G.G.G.G. represents is unknown.
5. Some counterstamps are marked G.G.G. and others are marked G.G.G. & G.G.G.G. However, no counterstamps exist with G.G.G.G. without an accompanying G.G.G. Thus, it seems that G.G.G. was the earlier of the two preparations, and when G.G.G.G. was formulated at a later date, the two were advertised together. For what it may be worth, more older dates are stamped with just G.G.G.
6. George C. Goodwin & Co., of Boston, was a seller of hair preparations in the late 1850s, during which time someone stamped coins with these inscriptions: "USE / G.G.G.," and "USE / G.G.G. / & / G.G.G.G."
7. It seems probable that George C. Goodwin & Co. was the counterstamper.
Dr. Gregory Brunk's book, American and Canadian Countermarked Coins, lists the following known specimens of counterstamped pieces.17 Many of these pieces are in my collection:
USE / G.G.G.:
Large cents (37 specimens): 1798 (1), 1803 (1), 1812 (2), 1817 (1), 1819 (1), 1832 (1), 1834 (1), 1835 (1), 1837 (1), 1838 (1), 1842 (1), 1843 (1), 1846 (1), 1847 (1), 1848 (7), 1850 (1), 1851 (3),-BE- 1852 (4), 1853 (3), 1854 (2), 1855 (1), unknown date (1)
Silver three-cent piece (1): 1853 (1)
Half dimes (13): 1835 (1), 1836 (1), 1837 (1), 1838 (1), 1839 (1), 1843 (1), 1849 (1), 1853 (3), 1854 (1), 1856 (2)
Dimes (28): 1822 (1), 1832 (1), 1837 (1), 1841 (3), 1842 (1), 1843 (3), 1850 (1), 1853 (12), 1854 (2), 1855 (2), 1856 (1)
Quarter dollars (6): 1853 (2), 1854 (3), 1855 (1)
Canadian tokens (4)
Total number of coins surveyed by Brunk: 89
USE / G.G.G. / & / G.G.G.G.:
Large cents (52): 1798 (1), 1803 (1), 1810 (1), 1814 (1), 1823 (2), 1824 (1), 1826 (1), 1828 (2), 1829 (2), 1837 (1), 1838 (3), 1840 (1), 1841 (2), 1843 (1), 1844 (1), 1845 (1), 1846 (2), 1847 (2), 1848 (3), 1851 (5), 1852 (3), 1853 (2), 1854 (3), 1855 (4), 1856 (2), 1857 (1), unknown date (1)
Dime (1): 1841 (1)
Quarter dollars (4): 1853 (2), 1854 (2)
Half dollar (1): 1854 (1)
Hard Times token (1)
Total number of coins surveyed by Brunk: 59
USE / GOODWIN'S / GRAND / GREASE JUICE / FOR THE HAIR / G.G.G.:
Large cent (1): 1838 (1)
Total number of coins surveyed by Brunk: 1
Grand total of all Goodwin-related counterstamps surveyed by Brunk: 149
(A typical silversmith)
The jewelry firm of Stone & Ball was founded in Syracuse, New York City in 1853 by two young men, Calvin S. Ball and S.H. Stone, who succeeded the partnership of Norton & Hotchkiss.18 Stone & Ball lasted until about 1869, after which Ball carried on the trade alone, finally giving up the business in 1903 by selling out to Stetson & Crouse.
During the first year of business the entrepreneurs are said to have embarked upon a scheme of advertising by counterstamping quarter dollars with the inscription: STONE & BALL / SYRACUSE / N.Y.
An article in The Syracuse Herald, June 27, 1897, based upon an interview with Calvin S. Ball, noted that quarter dollars stamped by the firm earlier have "come back like the cat; some have knocked about nearly 44 years."
The text further noted:
None but 25-cent pieces were stamped, and the work was all done during the first two years of the partnership; but
for 44 years these quarters have been heard from in many unique and unexpected ways.
Immediately upon the breaking out of the [Civil] war most of them disappeared, and it is the opinion of Mr. Ball
that they were hidden away down South; and not until about 1880 did they begin to make their reappearance.19
He now has about $10 worth of stamped quarters that have been returned to him by both acquaintances and strangers from all
parts of the
country. A great many letters are also received, all of which he answers and supplies whatever information is asked....
Often I meet people in the street who hand me one of our old coins. It is easy for people to find us, as I believe that I
am the only
merchant, excepting S.I. Ormsbee, who is still carrying on the book and paper business, who has continued in the
same business in this city during the 44 years without change.
By 1853, when Stone & Ball was founded, the idea of counterstamping coins was not new to at least one of the partners, for a jeweler's hallmark, C.S. BALL, was used by Calvin S. Ball earlier and is known today on large cents dated 1829, 1837, and 1838, as well as several varieties of Canadian tokens.20
The counterstamps of Stone & Ball, said to have been applied only in the years 1853 and 1853, are of at least three types: (1) STONE & BALL in a rectangular hallmark punch; (2) STONE & BALL in a logotype punch; and (3) STONE & BALL / SYRACUSE / N.Y. in three lines in a logotype punch.
Only the latter style contained the address, and it was quarter dollars of this style which were the subject of the 1897 recollections by Ball. He forgot that numerous coins other than quarters had been so marked, including large cents, dimes, quarters, half dollars, and various foreign coins. However, judging from the frequency of specimens seen on the numismatic market today, quarter dollars were dominant.
The hallmark-style punch of C.S. BALL and the later hallmark punch of STONE & BALL are
typical of those used by manufacturing jewelers and silversmiths; however, modern authority D. Albert Soeffling
Contrary to the popular literature on silver marks, Stone & Ball were not silversmiths. As a general rule, much of the silverware
the nineteenth century is stamped with the retailer's mark. This practice was known as backstamping or store stamping. The
caused no end of confusion in identifying the actual manufacturers of nineteenth century silver. In terms of silverware, Stone
& Ball only sold it. They were trained jewelers, however, and repaired clocks and watches. The firm had the contract
for keeping the school clocks in Syracuse in repair and also erected the first illuminated clock in Syracuse in front of their
(A typical commemorative issue)
In 1824 the Marquis de Lafayette, French hero of the American Revolution, revisited America and was proclaimed by Congress to be "the nation's guest." Numerous printed, medallic, and other tributes were created during the course of his stay in the United States, which extended into the year 1825.
One of the more interesting numismatic items associated with this event is the Washington-Lafayette counterstamp made from the dies of a 9 mm medalet impressed on the obverse and reverse of contemporary circulating coins. The obverse die has the inscription George Washington in a partial circle surrounding a portrait of Washington facing left, while the reverse is inscribed GENERAL LAFAYETTE, with the date 1824 below, surrounding a portrait of Lafayette facing right. Examples of counterstamped cents seen by the author have Washington on the obverse of the host coin and Lafayette on the reverse.
The medalet is known primarily in silver, but at least one white metal impression is known. Counterstamps are more plentiful,
numerous. Brunk lists the following:
Large cents dated 1816, 1817, 1818, 1820, 1822 (2), 1823, and one of
unknown date. Dimes dated 1820, 1821, and 1822. Half dollar dated 1824. Spanish-American one-real piece, date not stated.
Spanish-American two-real piece dated 1824.
The Washington-Lafayette counterstamp is said to have been among the early work of Charles C. Wright, who was quite possibly the most skilled and accomplished of all American engravers of the nineteenth century.
Presently, the writer is engaged in research on the numismatic aspects of Lafayette's 1824-25 visit, and the biography of Wright. Much information, including a manuscript biography, has been found concerning the latter, but, so far, not a single contemporary mention of counterstamped Washington-Lafayette coins. Hopefully, some future year may see a COAC presentation on Lafayette and engraver Wright, or, perhaps even a monograph on the subject.
From the virtually endless repertoire of counterstamped large cents I have selected a "gallery" of pieces illustrating the diversity of imprints made by various merchants and other entities.
All illustrations are enlarged. Unless there was a numismatic reason for doing so, only the counterstamped side of the coin is shown. All pieces are from the collection of the author.
1. Whomever he may have been, B.R. ADBUB, who carefully put his hallmark on the obverse of this 1793 Wreath cent, adding an eagle motif for good measure, was probably not a numismatist! The style of the hallmark indicates that he was probably a worker in soft metal, a silversmith or pewterer.
2. ALAMO / HOTEL in two separate punches on the obverse of an 1848 cent. Location unknown, but probably in the northeastern section of United States, as that is where large cents primarily circulated, despite the Texas flavor of the name. So far as is known, such pieces were not used in commerce in the Lone Star State.
3. A&O Tel. Co. on the obverse of an 1839 cent. Undoubtedly, this represents a telegraph (not telephone) company, as in the 1850s, presumably when this piece was marked, telegraphs were a booming industry. Most probably, research into American telegraphy would disclose the identity of the firm.
4. The mark of P. APPLE, an eagle motif, and Philadelphia identifies this gunsmith. Quite probably, the same mark was used on his munitions.
5. AUSTIN'S GAS ETNA on the obverse of an 1837 cent. Presumably, Etna (a.k.a. Aetna) being the name of a famous volcano, this referred to some type of gas illumination or heating device. The punch was probably originally intended to mark such.
6. The hallmark of Baldwin & Jones on a well-worn Draped Bust cent. This partnership, composed of Jabez L. Baldwin and John B. Jones, was active in Boston in the second decade of the nineteenth century.
7. The mark WALLACE BARNES on the obverse of a well-worn 1798 cent. Barnes was a manufacturer of clocksprings and brass face plates and worked in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Without doubt, the stamp was used on his commercial products, although enough large cents were marked—Brunk has recorded over a dozen different specimens in existence today.
8. This bold hallmark on a 1793 cent reads BAYLEY and is believed to be the mark of Simeon C. Bayley, Philadelphia silversmith who was active in the 1790s. Alternatively, the partnership of Simeon & Alexander Bayley existed in New York City City in the same era.
9. USE / BLACKS / CHOCOLATE / POWDER on the obverse of an 1850 cent. The same imprint is known on Canadian cents, one of which is dated 1876, indicating that the present piece may have been marked in Canada in the 1870s, at which time large cents were plentiful in that country (but had long since disappeared from commerce in the United States).
10. An 1833 large cent marked with two hallmarks G. BOYCE and N. YORK, the former being the mark of Geradus Boyce, who practiced in that city from about 1814 through 1841. The hallmarks were intended to mark silver and other items.
11. COCHRAN'S / MANY / CHAMBERD / NON RECOIL / & / PATENT / RIFLE / SPRINGFIELD / MASS. This interesting stamp, on the reverse of an 1820 cent, was made from several single line punches, carefully (more or less) positioned. As the preparation of this piece required time and care, it was probably made as a souvenir or pocket piece, rather than specifically for advertising. John W. Cochran, of New York City City, invented the gun, which is believed to have been manufactured by C.B. Allen in Springfield (who operated ca. 1836-41) and who manufactured the "Monitor" 7-shot revolver, among other items.22
12. This 1838 cent seems to have been a playground for a counerstamper. Among the different impressions are [letters missing]NGE-COFFEE HOUSE (seemingly, Exchange Coffee House) / Boston / O.T. /D.B.B., and an eagle motif.
13. The imprint DERINGER / PHILA in two lines on the obverse of an 1817 cent is the same mark used by this famous manufacturer of firearms to identify its pistols, one of which was used to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln. The Deringer firm, owned by Henry Deringer, was located on Front Street for many years; in 1819, the address was 370 North Front Street. The company was active from about 1806 until a few years after Deringer's death in 1868.
14. While Dr. G.G. Wilkins, Pittsfield, N.H., was the most prolific counterstamper of coins within the United States, in terms of the entire North American continent, honors go to DEVINS & BOLTON, Montreal druggists, who must have marked tens of thousands of pieces in the 1860s. At the time, American large cents were plentiful north of the border, and many received their imprint. The author collects them by date sequence.
15a. Advertising stamp USE / G.G.G. / & / G.G.G.G. on the obverse of an 1857 cent, the only advertising countermark seen by the author on a cent of that date. By this time, large cents were an anachronism, and there was little point in stamping them for advertising purposes. While it is known that G.G.G. stands for Goodwin's Grand Grease, a hair preparation, it is not known what the expanded initials, G.G.G.G. represent.
15b. This Goodwin stamp marked USE / G.G.G. on the obverse of an 1803 cent refers to Goodwin's Grand Grease. This imprint appears not only on large cents but on numerous other denominations and coin types as well, including Canadian tokens.
16. USE / GOLD PILE / SALVE / WARRANTED / TO / CURE /J.H.D. nicely imprinted on the reverse of an 1843 cent. The size of the stamp indicates that it may have been made specifically for advertising purposes on cents. On the other hand, this piece is a great rarity, and if advertising was the intention, only a few were ever made. Another possibility is that the stamp may have been used to imprint metal cases containing the product. Undoubtedly, J.H.D. was the compounder.
17. The imprint of Wm. GRUMBINE / COACH / MAKER / HANOVER, Pa on the obverse of a cent is from punches probably used to mark brass fittings on coaches he manufactured. Recently the author learned that he was a clock maker as well.
18. IRA C. HASKINS /TIP TOP / PEN / EN neatly stamped on the obverse of an 1850 cent. This punch may have been used to mark the steel nib of an ink pen. A good possibility for research would be to check the Haskins name in patent records. Probably imprinted in the 1850s.
19. Two identical hallmarks of George C. Howe stamped crisscross fashion on the obverse of an 1818 cent. Howe practiced silversmithing in New York City City from the second through fourth decades of the 19th century.
20. USE / DR. KIDDERS / FAMILY PILLS in a circle on the obverse of an 1847 cent. Brunk, in his American and Canadian Countermarked Coins, noted that a Mrs. Kidder of East Boston, Mass. offered vegetable pills and other nostrums in the 1840s. However, whether she was the doctor offering Family Pills is not known. Dr. Kidder was a prolific counterstamper, and over a dozen of his (or her) imprints are known today.
21. The imprint in tiny letters of C. W. KING / ARTIST, carefully punched on the cheek of Miss Liberty on an 1819 cent. More than likely, King was a daguerreotypist, as such photographers referred to themselves as artists at the time. Too small to be conveniently read by the average user of this cent, the punch may have been made to mark a metal case enclosing a photograph.
22. Bold imprint of A. KLINGER / JEWELER / ELKHART IND. jeweler and watchmaker, on a cent of 1856. One can envision that this circular stamp may have been used on watch cases as well.
23a. J.F. McKENNEY / GUNSMITH on the obverse of an 1845 cent, using two separate punches. McKenney was a well known Maine gunsmith and had facilities in Bath, Biddeford, and Saco, all near the southeast section of the state. Numerous of his imprints are known in different combinations, probably made from punches used to imprint his firearms. How interesting it would be to acquire a rifle with the same marks!
24a. MESCHUTT'S / METROPOLITAN / COFFEE HOUSE / COFFEE ROOM / 433. Bd. WAY on the obverse of a worn 1828 cent. Meschutt, a prolific counterstamper in his era, always selected well-worn coins so that his complex stamp could be imprinted clearly. How interesting it would be to learn more about this coffee room, which probably flourished in the 1840s or 1850s.
24b. Another MESCHUTT counter-stamp, this one on the obverse of a Draped Bust cent of the early 1800s, worn nearly smooth.
26. An eagle countermark with the notation NASHUA, N.H. / PATENT on the obverse of an 1819 cent was probably made by a munitions manufacturer. The Patent Office records may yield more information.
27. OIL / OF / ICE imprinted on the obverse of an 1848 cent. The specific nature of this product, quite possibly a patent medicine, has eluded the author, who has dreams of someday finding a little bottle of the stuff, and identifying its maker. The same imprint is found on other coins including Indian cents.
28. An 1845 cent with the imprint B. PARKER on the obverse. This is one of the few large cent counterstamps which is well documented, as Walter B. Gould, an earlier collector of these, knew Ben Parker, a stencil marker in Bangor, Maine, and noted that he stamped coins with B. PARKER as souvenirs for his customers. Today, several hundred cents are known with his imprint, indicating that his original production must have been prodigous.
29. A pig motif with the word PORK at the center is shown on the obverse of this 1831 cent. The author has seen this mark on several different United States cents as well as coins of Canada, some dated as late as the 1870s. The purpose is unknown.
30. H. REES, a Philadelphia blacksmith, was a prolific counterstamper of cents, and must have considered coins to have been an effective advertising medium. Nearly all of his stamps are found punched above the head of Miss Liberty, as shown on this 1831 cent. The same punch was probably used to mark his wrought iron products.
31. In Waterford, Maine, DR. SHATTUCK offered his Water Cure, which was designed for female patients who stayed in his sanitarium there. Imprints are known in various coins ranging from cents through half dollars.
32. The hallmark of STONE & BALL on the obverse of an 1852 cent, the mark of Seymour H. Stone and Calvin S. Ball, Syracuse, N.Y., silversmiths of the era. The firm marked many thousands of pieces, mostly quarter dollars.
33. WM. THOMSON appears in script on this attractive hallmark carefully affixed to the obverse of an 1819 cent by a well-known New York City silversmith who practiced ca. 1810-34.
34a. One of the great unsolved mysteries in counterstamps is the hallmark of N.J. TRACY, which exists in two forms—curved (rare) and straight line (as shown here on an 1847 cent). Many dozens of specimens are known, indicating a large original production. Tracy probably worked in soft metal and was a silversmith, pewterer, or Coppersmith, although no directory listings had been located thus far.
35. The obverse of this 1845 cent bears the imprint TREMONT / HOUSE and probably is from a stamp used to mark metal products in connection with a hotel of that name, quite possibly tableware or key tags. Tremont House was a popular name for lodging places, including one in Chicago operated by Gage Bros. & Drake, which advertised on encased postage stamps.
36. One of the most famous of all large cent counterstamp varieties is VOTE THE LAND / FREE, here shown on the obverse of an 1841 cent. This was the rallying cry of the Free Soil Party, and is believed to have been used in the presidential election of 1848 (as no cents are known of dates later than that), although the party remained active through the early 1850s. The slogan referred to using the ballot box to keep land free from slavery.
37. The counterstamps of George Washington (obverse) and General Lafayette (reverse) seen on an 1822 cent. One of the most famous of all American counterstamps, the issue was struck from small dies, believed to have been made by celebrated engraver Charles C. Wright, for a silver medalet. Various coins were imprinted, most notably cents and half dollars, believed to have been in connection with Lafayette's return visit to America 1824-25. The date 1824 appears under Lafayette's bust.
38. The mark of WHITTENS / GOLDEN SALVE comfortably fits on the obverse of this 1856 cent, indicating that the punch may have been made specifically for advertising in this regard. The compounder of this nostrum was C.P. Whitten of Lowell, Massachusetts, ca. 1850-60s. Over the years, Lowell was a germination bed for patent medicines, and such famous products as J.C. Ayer's pills and potions, Moxie Nerve Food, etc., were produced there.
39. The imprint of DR. G.G. WILKINS on the obverse of an 1829 cent. Of all United States counterstampers, Wilkins, a Pittsfield, New Hampshire dentist and entrepreneur, was the most prolific, as evidenced by hundreds of specimens surviving today.
40a. An 1850 cent stamped in four lines, J.G. WILSON / GAS FITTER / 39 CENTRE St / N.Y., and from separate single-line punches. Quite probably, Wilson used these punches to mark pipes and fittings, rather than for advertising, as the use of four different operations to mark a cent, not to overlook keeping track of the order of the punches, would have been too cumbersome.
40b. Another cent marked by Wilson, this one dated 1852 and having J.G. WILSON / GAS FITTER facing in one direction, and 39 CENTRE St / N.Y. in another.
41. This 1852 cent bears the imprint of J. YOUS on the obverse. The late Roy Van Ormer, an enthusiastic collector of counterstamps, found this piece, and was overjoyed when he located the exact mark on a rifle made by the same man, whom he identified as Joshua Yous of Greencastle, Pennsylvania, manufacturer of Kentuckystyle percussion rifles who was active from about 1854 to 1861.
|1||The Numismatist 1947, pp. 494-97.|
|2||William H. Sheldon, Early American Cents, (New York City, 1949).|
|3||The survey comprised pieces with surnames, advertising, etc.; pieces with stray initials, letters, etc. were not included.|
|4||Another fruitful area for research is the number of dies known to be used on cents of various years. However, this is fraught with difficulty, as throughout numismatics there are many instances of common dates known to be struck from only a few dies, and rare dates from numerous die pairs.|
|5||"The Characteristics of North American Advertising Countermarks," TAMS Journal, August 1990, p. 124.|
|6||The author is indebted to Francis D. Campbell, ANS Librarian, for a copy of the catalogue listing.|
|7||Frossard's biography is detailed in John Adams, United States Numismatic Literature, Vol. 1, Nineteenth Century Auction Catalogues, (Mission Viejo, CA, 1982), pp. 68-69, from which source this information is extracted.|
|8||The article is reprinted in my book, The Strange Career of Dr. Wilkins: A Numismatic Inquiry, (Wolfeboro, NH, 1987), pp. 9-12.|
|9||Alphabetization by the first initial follows the style used by Gregory C. Brunk et al., but is not logical, as if a stamp were to be identified as to issuer, information concerning that issuer would be found under the person's surname, not first initial. Thus, in a hypothetical instance, if the initials J.Q.P. were found on a cent, and if it were indexed under J, then chances are diminished for cross-referencing it to the actual issuer, John Q. Public. It really should be listed as "P., J.Q." to facilitate further research.|
|10||In later years Gould and Washburn dissolved the business. Gould moved to California, where he became a prominent figure and speaker on the coin club and convention circuit. At one time he contributed a column to Coin World. Over a period of years he sold many of his counterstamped large cents to me.|
|11||Gregory C. Brunk, American and Canadian Countermarked Coins (Rockford, IL, 1987), p. 75.|
|12||Horatio R. Storer, M.D. (copyright by Malcolm Storer; Boston, 1931).|
|13||Quarters of 1876 have the motto IN GOD WE TRUST on the reverse (used in the series 1866 and later); it is not known whether Horatio Storer would have checked for this feature on a coin worn nearly smooth.|
|14||Published by J. Chace, Jr. & Co., et al, Portland, ME; see pp. 318, 331, and one-third page advertisement on p. 338.|
|15||Several of these cure-alls were also advertised on encased postage stamps: Ayer's Pills, Burnett's Cocoaine, Ayer's Sarsaparilla, and Brown's (Bronchial) Troches.|
|16||"This great and popular remedy, originated by Dr. Poland in 1855, at Goffstown Center, New Hampshire, was at first designed only for colds, coughs, hoarseness, sore throat, and diseases of the throat and lungs generally, for which complaints it is a certain cure. But in a few months after it was first advertised, two persons, residing thirteen miles apart, and using it for a cough, discovered that it was a wonderful specific for kidney inflammation...."|
|17||Gregory C. Brunk, American and Canadian Countermarked Coins (Rockford, IL, 1987), pp. 75-76.|
|18||Certain historical information about Stone & Ball is taken from an article, "Quarters Return," in The Syracuse Herald, June 27, 1897, reprinted in the TAMS Journal, October 1990, pp. 165-66.|
|19||It is now known that silver coins were hoarded by the public beginning in the summer of 1862, and coins made of this metal did not actively circulate until the government resumed specie payments in a large way ca. 1876—"Down South" had nothing to do with it.|
|20||For the C.S. Ball counterstamps: Brunk, p. 22, Brunk No. 2130; for the Stone & Ball counterstamps, Brunk p. 170, Nos. 38520, 38530, and 38540.|
|21||Letter from D. Albert Hoeffling quoted in TAMS Journal, October 1990, p. 165.|
|22||Col. Arcadi Gluckman and L.D. Satterlee, American Gun Makers, p. 36.|
Coinage of the Americas Conference at the American Numismatic Society, New York City
October 29, 1994
© The American Numismatic Society, 1995
To find the elusive origin of an important coin or token over 150 years after its issuance is welcome numismatic data. When this occurred with respect to the American Anti-Slavery tokens dated 1838 it is of particular significance because of the present emphasis on securing, safeguarding and studying the civil rights of individuals. The common variety of this token (Low 54, Rulau 81) contains the well known motto AM I NOT A WOMAN & A SISTER surrounding a black woman in chains and thus emphasizes women's civil rights as well as the then goal of freedom from slavery (fig. 1).
A review of the extensive numismatic literature as to American Anti-Slavery tokens discloses much speculation as to their origin and specifically urges further research to reveal their actual background.1 Their substantial circulation as token money in the United States is well known from the natural wear evident on most pieces.
The location of their origin was initiated by serendipity. An article written by Robert W. Julian revived a portion of
a letter dated December 2, 1837, from Robert M. Patterson, Director of the U.S. Mint, to Levi Woodbury, Secretary of the Treasury.2 That letter stated in part:
The Emancipator of the last week advertises a new emission ‘similar in appearance to new cents—nearly
as heavy and made of pure copper' for sale at the Anti-Slavery office on Nassau street. They have anti-slavery devices on
The Emancipator was published by the American Anti-Slavery Society, 143 Nassau Street, New York City City, and began on May 4, 1833, as a weekly newspaper. Its policy stated that "Besides original and selected articles on the subject of SLAVERY, religious, literary, miscellaneons and news items of a valuable character will find place." Charles W. Denison was the publisher in New York City City and Joshua Leavitt was its editor. There was also a religious newspaper entitled The New York Evangelist which in its issue of January 3, 1835, carried a description and illustration of the British Emancipation Jubilee Medal proclaiming the cessation of slavery throughout the dominions of Great Britain by Act of Parliament on August 1, 1834. That medal contained a message to the people of the United States by including in its legends A VOICE FROM GREAT BRITAIN TO America (fig. 2).3 The text of the article describing the medal stated "George Thomson of Britain visited the U.S. to express sympathy in regard to continuation of slavery in U.S. and will furnish counsel, prayers and generous aid in promoting abolition." This illustrated article in The New York City Evangelist was copied and published intact by The Emancipator in its January 6, 1835 issue and the medals were offered for sale at 25 cents each. The sale of numismatic anti-slavery items in America was following a similar pattern set in England (fig. 3).
On November 23, 1837, The Emancipator published the following advertisement:
An artist in New Jersey has manufactured some Anti-Slavery COPPER MEDALS, similar in
appearance to new cents. They are nearly as heavy and are made of pure Copper. On one side is a female slave, in chains,
imploring attitude, with the motto, "Am I not a woman and a sister?" The execution is admirably well done. On the reverse
side is, in the
center, the word "LIBERTY", surrounded by a wreath–and outside, in a circle, "United States of
America." These medals can be had at the Anti-Slavery Office, No. 143 Nassau Street in any quantity, at one dollar a hundred which
merely covers the actual cost.
It is proposed to make similar medals, with a man, kneeling in chains, with the motto, "Am I not a man and a brother?" The
Price will be the
same. The friends of liberty have it in their power now to put a medal into the hands of every person in the country, without
a sentiment of immense value. It is a tract that will not be destroyed. If it falls into the hands of the enemy of liberty,
he will "read and
Orders are solicited from all parts of the country, post paid. Newspapers friendly to the cause of liberty, are requested
to copy this.
No evidence of the reprinting of the advertisement has been found in subsequent issues of The Evangelist. In spite of the offer to other newspapers "friendly to the cause of liberty" to publish the advertisement's content no such insertions have been located. The advertisement clarifies many of the matters concerning the tokens. It gives the date of issue of the female slave token as prior to its actual 1838 dating included on both faces. It points out that the female slave token was prepared by a New Jersey artist. It shows that the American Anti-Slavery Society was primarily interested in the "immense" propaganda value of their use. According to the organization's statement it was only covering their actual cost which included mailing them postpaid anywhere in the United States. The sale price of one cent each was their intended circulating value. Either the coiner or someone else was obviously profiting on the matter.4 The 17½ cent price of copper per pound for tokens with a mean weight of 10.26 grams each makes the intrinsic value of the metal in one hundred tokens only 39½ cents.5 The tokens are specifically described as medals rather than as money in order to attempt to be lawful, but the admission that they are "similar in appearance to new cents" would have been a harmful admission in a criminal proceeding.
The advertisement also furnishes the first evidence of the background of the 1838 male slave token (Low 54a, Rulau 82).6 It conveys the fact that such a token was "proposed" on November 23, 1837, and therefore its existence has its first historical support (fig. 4). The advertisement indicates the male and female slave tokens had the same sponsor.
As will hereafter be shown the illegality of the issuance of this style of tokens had already been strongly asserted under United States law. The design of both tokens carried a wreath similar to the then current United States cents: the legend United States of America in circular form was in the same general position as on such United States cents; and the word LIBERTY 1838 in two lines in the center of the wreath was in a deceivingly similar position and appearance to ONE CENT in two lines in the center of the wreath on United States cents. In addition to the foregoing, the tokens were virtually the same diameter, weight and thickness as United States cents.
One may therefore draw a logical conclusion from the threat of enforcement of the law. The large issue of the female slave token contains an obvious error in that the N in UNITED is a mirror image, the diagonal stroke of the N improperly rising from lower left to upper right.7 This mistake might have been deliberately left uncorrected because of circumstances. Recutting a new die would have cost precious time as would trying to make a correction to an existing hardened die. It was probably determined that time was of the essence and that distribution of the anti-slavery tokens had to be done immediately, or it might be prevented altogether by the enforcement of the law.
The same logic can be used to explain the rarity of the American 1838 male anti-slavery token (Low 54a, Rulau 82). The female token had obviously been struck in quantity first. The female tokens had just begun to be offered for sale to the public. While waiting to see how quickly the sale of the female tokens was taking place and gathering funds from that source to pay for striking a quantity of the male anti-slavery tokens, the threat of law enforcement could well have discouraged the issuers from ordering a substantial production coinage of male anti-slavery tokens.
Four days after the female anti-slavery token was advertised in The Emancipator, the following news item appeared in the
New York City Journal of Commerce:
SPURIOUS COPPER COINS —We are glad to
see that measures are likely to be adopted to put an end to the high handed business which has been so boldly carried on,
the copper coin. It has been done with all sorts of devices, and to complete the assortment, the Abolitionists have set up
of cents with a chained negro on them—and poor fellow, he will remain chained for ever, in spite of any thing his especial
friends will do for
his deliverance. Some of the market women make a regular business of buying light cents and "no cents" by the quantity, at
a discount, and
passing them off in place of real cents. The anti-slavery coin we believe, is of full weight. The whole business is doing
great mischief, and
ought to be stopped forthwith.
The editor was cruelly critical of the anti-slavery cause. He does admit the token is full weight. He refers to the slave on the token as a male, describing the figure as a negro, as a poor fellow and uses masculine pronouns. No female anti-slavery token was mentioned. A male anti-slavery token therefore had been examined, thus proving that at least some examples of it had been struck by November 27, 1837.
A few strikings from the male anti-slavery token dies could have been all that were made. Thus there is an answer to the challenge "It has never been discovered as to why Low 54a has remained unknown for over 70 years."8 There was apparently no production coinage and the few examples of the 1838 male anti-slavery token remained unnoticed by numismatists during the nineteenth century. The 1838 American male slave token was obviously adapted from the undated (ca. 1796) British anti-slavery tokens which contained the legends, AM I NOT A MAN AND A BROTHER and MAY SLAVERY & OPPRESSION CEASE THROUGHOUT THE WORLD (fig. 5).
The identity of the New Jersey diemaker and coiner of the anti-slavery tokens leaves two choices, as the advertisements specifically indicate that the artist and the manufacturer are the same. Two token manufacturers were then in Belleville, on the Passaic River, about three miles from Newark, Essex County, New Jersey.
James G. Moffett of Belleville and New York City City was a token maker to whom Alfred Z. Reed attributed Hard Times Tokens designated as Low 29, 112, 113, 125 and 126.9 Moffett issued his own store cards giving his New York City City address at 121 Prince Street,10 and thus would probably not have been referred to in a New York City City paper as a New Jersey artist.
John Gibbs of Belleville was the founding member of the firm of Gibbs, Gardner & Co., known as the "Belleville Mint" (fig. 6; Low 150, Rulau 202). Gibbs was born in Birmingham, England, in 1809, and came to America where he joined John Gardner in the production of die struck metal buttons, metal store cards, metal tokens and copper coins for foreign countries. That enterprise obtained its sheet metal from Stevens, Thomas, & Fuller, a brass rolling mill firm situated on the same Belleville property so they could easily work together. William Stevens of that firm was an English trained diesinker.11 Gibbs, having struck the 1833 Liberian one cent token, should have had priority for selection to make anti-slavery tokens. This New Jersey evidence seems to correct a speculation that the "piece was struck by Scoville[sic] Manufacturing Co."; an assertion that the dies were engraved by Edward Hulseman who worked in Attleboro, Massachusetts, and New York City City and whose initial H is on many Hard Times Tokens; and a comment that the Token was struck by other than Gibbs.12 The New York City City directories from 1837 through 1841 list Hulseman 13 and for the 1837 directory the information had to be gathered in late 1836. Thus Hulseman could not be the die cutter according to the advertisement in The Emancipator naming a New Jersey craftsman. The delicacy of the slave design would indicate a highly skilled engraver (in spite of the lettering error) and thus the English training of Stevens swings the probability in favor of the "Belleville Mint" (Gibbs, Gardner & Co. jointly with Stevens, Thomas & Fuller) being engravers and makers. The punches and style clearly indicate that the dies for both the female and male anti-slavery tokens were made by the same die cutter and both were dated 1838.
During the same month when the advertisement of the anti-slavery tokens was printed most newspapers in the United States were running extensive accounts, editorials and discussions of the murder of Reverend Elijah Parish Lovejoy (1802-37), a Presbyterian minister in Alton, Illinois. He was the first American martyr to freedom of the press. He had previously been forced out of his pulpit in St. Louis County, Missouri, for being editor of the St. Louis Times and the St. Louis Observer, both of which continuously published strong anti-slavery material. Thinking that it would be helpful to move from a slave state (Missouri) across the Mississippi River to a free state (Illinois), he transferred his press to Alton, Illinois, where he published the Alton Observer. He continued to promote the anti-slavery movement by his powerful diatribes against slavery and inflamed those who supported slavery. His anti-slavery feelings were based upon moral and religious grounds. Each of his first three presses were thrown into the Mississippi River by his opponents and on the arrival of a fourth press a mob set fire to the warehouse where the press was stored when unloaded from a riverboat. In climbing to the roof to extinguish the flames Lovejoy was shot and killed on November 7, 1837. It is a coincidence that during the period of production of the anti-slavery tokens the anti-slavery movement took both a major advance and a major setback from his martyrdom.
As is well known, the suspension of specie payments by American banks on May 10, 1837,14 resulted in the
withdrawal from general circulation of virtually all silver and gold coin and the emergency issue of paper money by individuals,
cities, and counties. Specie promptly sold at a premium. The paper money consisted primarily of fractional parts of a dollar
and the lower
dollar denominations, being derisively called "Shinplasters," a term which had previously been applied to Continental Currency
American paper money of doubtful value. Copper U.S. cents and pre-U.S. Mint copper coins, although remaining in circulation, could not fill the need for minor transactions without
the presence of
U.S. half dimes, dimes and quarters and Spanish and Spanish-American ½, 1 and 2
reales. Even the U.S. Mint was sometimes reluctant to disburse cents during the period as evidenced by the following
letter to the editor printed in the October 26, 1837 Philadelphia Public Ledger:
The Mint — It has
been generally believed that our citizens could obtain for gold or silver, coppers from this institution, and until recently
such has been
the case. Whether the officers are tired of disbursing this latter species of coin, and wish to check the demand for it, we
cannot say, but
certain it is that they refuse to give "pennies" for silver coin of a less denomination than fifty-cents.
American quarter dollars, on the authority of the "folks inside" alone, are unhesitatingly rejected. Can any body about the
answer our queries - Why, and by what right is this course pursued? We pause for a reply.
Thus the opportunity arose for private interests to coin tokens to fill the need. This was further stimulated because the intrinsic value of the U.S. copper coin was far below its circulating value and there was a reasonable profit available in coining copper tokens of equal weight and size to the U.S. copper coinage. In addition there was an opportunity for business advertising as well as political and economic satire to enliven the faces of the tokens.
The introduction of copper tokens in the fall of 1837 caused comment in the October 4, 1837 U.S. Gazette of Philadelphia, describing Low 62, Rulau 20 (fig. 7):
We have before us a copper coin, about as large as a cent, which was recently made in Boston. On the one side is the splendid ship CONSTITUTION, with the legend "Webster", "credit", "current", "1834", — On the
reverse is the miserable wreck of the ship EXPERIMENT, with the legend "Van Buren", "metallic", — "current",
"1837." A painful exhibition of the signs of the times.
The easiest way to promote the introduction and sale of tokens for circulation was by offering them at a discount. This practice
in the November 14, 1837
New York City Journal of Commerce:
Copper Coin — There are great
quantities of copper pieces in the market which circulate as cents, but which are not so. They are generally too light; but
the worst part
of their construction is the bad metal they are made of, and their consequent tendency to become foul. Worst of all, they
are a vile
debasement of the current coin, by which individuals, very improperly, make a large profit at the public expense, their spurious
being generally sold by the bushel, at 50 to 60 cents the hundred. They are all stamped with some device other than that of
cent; for to put on that, would subject the operator to consequences not profitable. It is quite time for the public to refuse
altogether. * * * We hope that the same course will be pursued with the dirty "no cents" which are attempted to be put forth
E.H. Merrill was a Baltimore commission merchant who routinely placed separate newspaper advertisements covering each type of merchandise he had for sale, such as Britannia Tea Pots; silk, wool and fur hats; cork inkstands, boots, shoes and brogans; pins; bone buttons; percussion caps; tape, etc. On October 30, 1837, and for the next two days, he placed the following advertisement in the American and Commercial Daily Advertiser (known as the Baltimore American):
SPECIE — 1 cask, 15,000 Copper Counters
Just received for sale by E. H. Merrill
No. 24 South Charles st.
The advertisement showed that a newly arrived cask of "Counters" contained 15,000 pieces, but no price was indicated. Assuming that these were copper tokens they would pass for an aggregate of $150.00 and would have a total weight of about 340 pounds. The use of the word "Copper Counters" would ordinarily mean discs made of copper, struck with a design, intended to be used for counting box or counting board calculations, and better known as casting counters or jetons. No such meaning was actually intended in the advertisement. The pieces were identified in a Baltimore newspaper comment in The Sun on December 2, 1837, as having legends of MILLIONS FOR DEFENCE and NOT ONE CENT FOR TRIBUTE (Such types are known as Low 21-36 [fig. 8], 39, 41-43, 45, 46, 58, 69-71 and 95-97 as well as Rulau 16, 35-60 and 291-93). They were obviously Hard Times Tokens struck either in Waterbury, Connecticut, or Attleboro, Massachusetts, or both.
This use of the word SPECIE in the Merrill advertisement was to draw attention to it. Specie means gold and silver but does not include copper. In the Baltimore American of October 11, 1837, Samuel Winchester used the word SPECIE when offering to buy "whole, halves and quarter dollars" at a premium.
The Merrill advertisement was deliberately deceptive and audacious. It is no wonder that the authorities were promptly advised.
The opinion that copper tokens in general were illegal and were cheating the public was published in the November 2, 1837
Philadelphia Public Ledger:
Copper Coin — We have received a
copper coin of the size and, we suppose, about the weight of one cent; on one side of which is a female head, resembling that
of Liberty on
the cent, with the neck of a bull and the forehead of an idiot, surrounded by thirteen stars, the figures 1837, and E Pluribus
Unum; on the
other, "millions for defence" and surrounded by a laurel wreath, the words "not one cent for tribute." Congress has the power
and regulating the value of money, and has not only established the coins, and provided for the punishment of counterfeiting
them, but, we
believe has prohibited the citizen from coining. If so, these copper issues are illegal. There must be some cheat in the case;
they would not be made. We caution the public against them.
This described tokens which are classified as Low 21-36 and 69-71 as well as Rulau 35-51 and 58-60.
In the same period as copper one cent tokens were being promoted there was an advertisement for the Feuchtwanger cent (Low 120 and Rulau 268) in Philadelphia on October 6, 1837, which read:
Money — Cash
GERMAN SILVER CENTS
A FRESH supply just received and for sale by
C.P. WAYNE & SON
4th and Market St.
Dr. Lewis Feuchtwanger had requested Congress on September 13, 1837, to adopt his "invention" of a metal named
"Feuchtwanger's Composition" for U.S. cent coinage in a
small more practical size (fig. 9). U.S. Mint Director Robert M. Patterson, on January 4, 1838, wrote Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri, that the material was
already well known under the names German silver, argentan or packfong and was
impractical for coinage.16 During the interval Feuchtwanger encouraged publicity for
his one cent coinage as indicated by the following inserts in the
U.S. Gazette in Philadelphia for September 11 and 12, 1837:
ONE CENT PIECES
Dr. Lewis Feuchtwanger, of New York City, has issued a
German silver penny, milled at the edge; on the one side a fine bold eagle, and the reverse a wreath, with the words, ‘one
cent', with his
name on the circle. It is of the intrinsic value of one cent, and about the size of a dime. They are a first rate substitute
change. One hundred makes a dollar.
A friend called on us yesterday, with a sample of M. Feuchtwanger's coin of "one cent" to which we referred to in
our morning's paper. It was a beautiful piece of money, if it may be allowed such title, much more convenient every way than
coin; and should silver and gold ever come again in fashion, we think this kind of "cent" would be a very excellent attendant.
A suggestion that Feuchtwanger's cents might be used in place of copper tokens appeared in The
Sun, Baltimore, October 30, 1837:
Metallic Currency. — The country is flooded
with copper medals of nearly the size and weight of cents, most of them bearing devices and inscriptions defamatory of the
government; but many are mere advertisements of goods and wares in copper. There are two manufactories of them in Boston, and a hundred are made for thirty-five cents, affording a very fair profit to the maker.
Perhaps an emission of German silver cents might suppress them.
With all the publicity about the circulation of Hard Times Tokens, the public Officials could not stand by. The advertisement of E. H. Merrill in Baltimore and the sale and circulation of copper tokens in that city caused the following letter to be written:17
OFFICE OF THE SOLICITOR OF THE TREASURY
November 17, 1837
SIR — The Secretary of the Treasury has referred to this office a communication received from Baltimore, transmitting the enclosed copper coin. It is stated to be a specimen of such as are extensively put into circulation there, and advertised in the newspaper by a commission house, which is retailing them to any one who applies for them. I have to request that you will cause inquiry to be made into the truth of these statements, and if such be the fact, institute proper legal proceedings without delay. The second section of the act of 8th May 1792 provides that "no copper coins or pieces whatsoever, except the said cents and half cents, being those coined at the Mint of the United States, shall pass current as money, or shall be paid, or offered to be paid, or received in payment for any debt, demand, claim, matter or thing whatsoever; and all copper coins or pieces, except the said cents and half cents, which shall be paid or offered to be paid, or received in payment, contrary to the prohibition aforesaid, shall be forfeited; and every person by whom any of them shall have been so paid, or offered to be paid, or received in payment shall also forfeit the sum of ten dollars; and the said forfeiture and penalty shall and may be recovered, with costs of suit, for the benefit of any person or persons by whom information of the incurring thereof shall have been given."
The threatened prosecution under Section 2 of the Act of May 8, 1792, as above quoted was a substantial error. The omitted language of Section 2 just prior to the quoted portion required newspaper notices to be published after $50,000 in U.S. copper coin had been minted in order to make the law effective. This was never done and that portion of the law was never in force.18 In addition the law was repealed by Section 25 of the Act of March 3, 1825, which specifically defines an illegal piece as being "in resemblance or similitude of any copper coin which has been or may hereafter be coined at the Mint of the United States." However the law also required "intent to defraud"; and this would be a decision for the jury and would have been very difficult for the prosecution to prove, as there was no such intent by either the manufacturer or by those who circulated the tokens. It was an obvious and open money substitute.
Five constables in Baltimore made separate purchases of the copper tokens advertised by E.H. Merrill on October 30-November 1, 1837, and identified each such purchase with their name on the tag. This evidence was used for five separate prosecutions resulting on December 12, 1837, in five fines for $10 each or a total of $50. Comments by the press ranged widely. Since the constables were entitled to receive the full amount of the fines personally they were accused of abusing their position. On the other hand the verdict was deemed too light for an influential merchant "above the reach of ordinary pecuniary troubles * * * which makes our laws like spiders webs, which allow the large flies to break through while the small ones are strangled and devoured." Others complained in the press that illegal paper money was condoned while prosecution for distribution of copper tokens was enforced. Since the U.S. Post Office had received and paid out the tokens it was suggested that the government prosecute its own agency.19 Thus the propriety or impropriety of the token affair was somewhat clouded by extraneous views.
Meanwhile, on November 25, 1837, there was a meeting in New York City of bankers from all parts of the United States who, after many differences of opinion, postponed their conclusions as to when specie payments would be resumed. The tokens bearing SUBSTITUTE FOR SHINPLASTERS and the date Novr 1837 (Low 45-48 as well as Rulau 56-57 and 66-67) had been prepared as propaganda in favor of copper token money and confirm the date of the beginning of their distribution (fig. 10).
On December 2, 1837, Patterson wrote the following letter to Secretary of the Treasury Levi Woodbury, outlining that there was an advertisement, sale and distribution of copper tokens in Philadelphia, emphasizing that the laws of May 8, 1792 and March 3, 1835, should be the basis of a prosecution:20
An Attempt was made here some time ago to put spurious copper coins in circulation in Philadelphia and they were actually advertised for sale by one of our merchants. The unlawful proceeding was, however, promptly put a stop to; and our District Attorney, Mr. Read, brought the matter before the Grand Jury of the U.S. District Court who after attending to the representations made by Mr. Read and myself, made a presentment upon the subject, which was published in some of the Philadelphia papers.
I find that the same offense has been committed at Baltimore and that you have candid measures to be taken to arrest the evil there.
I now write for the purpose of calling your attention to the great extent to which, as I have reason to believe, spurious copper coins are circulated in New York City. A gentleman has recently brought me from there ten different varieties, some of them such imitations of the legal coins that I think they might be brought under the Act of March 3, 1835 against counterfeiting. All of this comes within the terms of the Act of May 8, 1792, Section 2.
The greater part of these spurious coins are evidently made at the same establishment as they have the same face or the same reverse.
Most of them are very light, some not exceeding three quarters the weight of the cent for which they are passed. The circulators of some of these spurious coppers may be easily found, since they have had their addresses marked on the reverse of the coins — one is Ezra B. Sweet, No. 200 Canal Street, NY — Another is Smith Clock Establishment, No. 74 Bowery, NY — Another is Robinson, Jones & Co. — Another New York City Joint Stock Exchange Company, No. 6, Tontine Building, Wall St.
I have just had brought to me the New York City Observer of this day in which is the following Statement:
"Immense numbers of spurious Cents are in circulation in this city. The Journal of Commerce says they are generally light and "sold by the hundered (sic) at 62 cents a hundred and that the market women make a regular business of buying light cents and "no cents" by the quantity at a discount and passing them off in place of real cents." The Emancipator of last week advertises a new emission "similar in appearance to new cents — nearly as heavy and made of pure copper" for sale at the Anti-Slavery office on Nassau Street. They have anti-slavery devices on them."
I am told that spurious copper coins are largely in circulation in Boston, but I have no exact information on this point.
The coinage of copper is the only operation of the Mint by which any profit is made; and if this illegal interference with our functions is arrested the profit will be so considerable as very appreciably to reduce the expenses of the establishment.
I am sir vy resp.
(Dr. Robert M. Patterson)
to Hon. Levi Woodbury
Sec. of Treasy
Patterson continued the prior error of referring to the obsolete May 8, 1792 Act and failed to realize the March 3, 1835 Act only applied prior counterfeiting laws to branch mints. He did not mention Section 21 of the Act of March 3, 1825 (the effective counterfeiting law), and possibly someone was confused by the ten year difference to the day between the Acts of March 3, 1825 and March 3, 1835. The token matter was brought to the attention of the Grand Jury of Philadelphia, where Patterson and the U.S. District Attorney testified. The newspapers gave the matter publicity and according to Patterson the practice was stopped there without any indictments. Actually new issues were stopped, advertising the tokens was stopped, but tokens already distributed continued to circulate.
On December 4, 1837, the Secretary of the Treasury wrote Director Patterson of the U.S. Mint that a letter to the U.S. District Attorney in New York City had been written about enforcing the law as to spurious copper coins (the tokens) and that a similar letter would be promptly sent to the U.S. Attorney in Boston.21 This spread the warning to the four principal commercial cities of the country, Boston, New York City, Philadelphia and Baltimore.
The United States after a substantial delay determined to prosecute the principal producer of Hard Times Tokens, William H. Scovill of Waterbury, Connecticut, and obtained the following indictment:22
District of Connecticut, S.S.
At the Circuit Court of the United States of America holden at Hartford in said District at the September Term thereof of AD 1838 The Grand Jurors of the United States for the body of said District, upon their oaths present
That William H. Scoville[sic] of Waterbury in the County of New Haven in the District of Connecticut contriving and intending falsely, fraudently[sic], decietfully[sic], and feloniously to decieve[sic] and defraud Aaron Potter of said Waterbury, at Waterbury aforesaid in the County and District aforesaid on the tenth day of November in the year of our Lord One Thousand eight hundred and thirty seven, with force and arms sixteen pieces of false, feigned, forged, and counterfeit Coin, each and every one of which were in resemblance and similitude of the good, legal and current copper coin of the United States which are coined at the Mint of the United States called "cents" then and there falsely, deceitfully, fraudulently and feloniously did pass, utter, and publish as true and lawful to the said Aaron Potter, him the said Potter to decieve and defraud as aforesaid, all which doings of the said William H. Scoville[sic] were and are against the dignity and Government of the United States and the peace thereof and contrary to the form force and effect of the Act of Congress of the United States in such case made and so provided and of evil example to other in like manner offending.
Scovill had also coined and issued a copper store card or token of the one cent size advertising his own business (Low 130 [fig. 11] and 130a as well as Rulau 105 and 107) but the indictment was for those pieces he produced which were deceivingly similar to U.S. cents.
The September 28, 1838 New York City Daily Express supported Scovill by stating that the copper pieces were made to order and sold as merchandise and not as coin, as evidenced by the legend "not one cent." No answer to the Scovill indictment was filed in court until April 1839, when Scovill posted a $1,000 bond. Because of the political nature of the prosecution Scovill let the bond forfeit on September 17, 1840, by not appearing. In February 1842, after the Whigs had come to power the case was dismissed by the prosecution.23
The Litchfield Enquirer (Connecticut) of October 4, 1838, quoting from an article in The New York City Express about the "not one cent" tokens made by Scovill, stated: "The public at that time demanded almost anything for circulation which would be taken by common consent, as these pieces were."
The production of politically motivated Hard Times Tokens had appeared quickly and ceased in due course. No one was economically harmed to any real extent and the political incisiveness of some of their messages must have been appreciated by those who had a sense of humor, whether Whigs in power or Democrats out of power. The continuing circulation of Hard Times Tokens for many years after their introduction in 1837 seems to have been the basis for Director Patterson on June 26, 1844, inquiring of Crocker Bros. & Co. in Taunton, Massachusetts, about comments in various newspapers that "counterfeit pennies worth sixty two cents per hundred" were being made in Attleboro, Massachusetts, and that "half cents in circulation are the Massachusetts issue." Crocker Bros. & Co. wrote R & W Robinson (Low 103-5 [fig. 12] as well as Rulau 154-56) in Attleboro on July 1, 1844, and received a reply dated July 4, 1844, stating that the latter struck "shop cards" on blanks furnished by Crocker Bros. in 1839 but other than some "Not One Cent" pieces being struck in Waterbury in 1837 there were no such pieces struck in Attleboro or elsewhere in that area to give rise to the rumor. A copy of this reply was sent to Director Patterson by Crocker Bros. on July 11, 1844.24
The U.S. government was apparently satisfied with its action in trying to suppress Hard
Times Tokens as expressed by James Ross Snowden, Director of the U.S. Mint, in his annual
report for 1854 (dated January 30, 1855), when he inaccurately stated:
The numerous copper tokens of 1837 were openly issued in the
exigency of the times, but the issue of a public notice that the law would be enforced against them, immediately put a stop
Many people and institutions were kind enough to cooperate in the assembly of information for this study and sincere thanks are given to the American Numismatic Society, Ruth Bauer, Q. David Bowers, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Richard Doty, Harry Forman, Julia Hoppe, Robert W. Julian, Denwood N. Kelley, H. Joseph Levine, Library Company of Philadelphia, Robert J. Lindesmith, Mercantile Library Association of St. Louis, Willard R. Mumford, National Archives of the United States, New York City City Public Library, Russell Rulau, Thomas Serfass, William F. Sherman, Alan M. Stahl, Thomas Schweich and Barry D. Tayman.
Preparation of the study was originally intended as a part of a festschrift to be printed for the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium in 1988, but no publication resulted. Some of the content of the study was informally shared with others prior to its presentation at the 1994 Coinage of the Americas Conference at the American Numismatic Society in New York City.
|1||Robert D. Leonard, Jr. and Clyde Keeler, "A Connection Between the 1838 Anti-Slavery Token (Low 54) and the Underground Railroad," TAMS Journal 1974, pp. 126-27: "Contemporary documentation regarding this token is lacking and the name of the organization that issued it is unknown....Hopefully further research will reveal the full story of this most interesting token"; Ernest Beerstecker, "The Dilemma of Low 54a, the Kneeling Slave Token," TAMS Journal 1979, p. 247.|
|2||Robert W. Julian, "Hard Times Tokens Part of U.S. Legacy," Coin World, Feb. 17, 1982; Robert W. Julian, "Politics of 1830s Influenced Designs on Merchants' Tokens," Numismatic News Jan. 13, 1987.|
|3||Melvin and George Fuld, "Anti-Slavery Tokens," The Numismatist 1957, p. 397; Melvin and George Fuld, "Anti-Slavery Medals," TAMS Journal 1962, p. 42, pl. 8.|
|4||Lyman H. Low, Hard Times Tokens 2nd edition (New York City, 1899), p. 31 (hereafter Low).|
|5||Beerstecker (above, n. 1), p. 247.|
|6||Edgar H. Adams, "Live American Numismatic Items," The Numismatist 1912, p. 204; Fuld 1962 (above n. 3), p. 43, showing punch trials of Low 54 and 54a.|
|7||This error was commented upon by Charles I. Bushnell, An Arrangement of Tradesmen's Cards, Political Tokens, etc. (New York, 1858), p. 117; Beerstecker (above, n. 1), p. 245.|
|8||Fuld 1957 (above, n. 3), p. 401; Ernest Beerstecker, "The Genetics of Low 54a," TAMS Journal 1986, p. 53. See The Numismatist 1988, p. 54 and 1986, p. 401; Russell Rulau, Hard Times Tokens 1832-1844 (Iola, WI, 1987), p. 25. For the history of the three known 1838 male slave tokens (Low 54a) see Bowers and Merena, Mar. 26-27, 1992 (Dr. Robert Hudson Coll.), no. 45. See also Russell Rulau, Standard Catalog of United States Tokens 1700-1900 (Iola, WI, 1994), p. 82, citing data provided to Mr. Rulau by the author.|
|9||Alfred Z. Reed, "Hard Times Tokens of the Large Cent Size," Coin Collector's Journal 1939, pp. 16, 21.|
|10||Edgar H. Adams, United States Store Cards (New York City, 1929), NY nos. 585, 586 (Rulau 295, 297).|
|11||Low, p. 57; Alfred Z. Reed, "Biographical Notes on the Presidents of the United States," Coin Collector's Journal 1938, p. 18; Thomas Schweich, "Hard Times Tokens, Relics of Jacksonian America," The Numismatist 1981, p. 315.|
|12||Fuld 1957 (above, n. 3), p. 399; Robert J. Lindsmith, "Edward Hulseman," TAMS Journal 1964, p. 117.|
|14||This date is found on Hard Times Tokens (Low 47, 48).|
|15||Niles National Register, Nov. 25, 1837, p. 194; Reed (above, n. 9), p. 19.|
|16||Low, p. 48; Edgar H. Adams, "Dr. Lewis Feuchtwanger," The Numismatist 1913, p. 297; William J. Schultz, "Why the Feuchtwanger Composition Metal Coins Received Their Knockout Blow," The Numismatist 1938, p. 949; Numisma Aug. 1956; "Varieties of the Feuchtwanger Cent," Num. Scrapbook Mag. 1957, p. 2343; "Feuchtwanger Bid on Making 3 Cent Nickel Blanks," Num. Scrapbook Mag. 1963, p. 318; James T. Koutsoures, The Identification of Feuchtwanger Cents Low 120 (Des Plains, IL, 1981).|
|17||Niles (above, n. 15), p. 194; Reed (above, n. 9), p. 152; Philadelphia Public Ledger, Nov. 25, 1837.|
|18||Eric P. Newman, "Circulation of Pre-US. Mint Copper Coins in Nineteenth Century America," America's Copper Coinage, 1783-1857, COAC Proceedings 1 (New York City, 1985), p. 103.|
|19||The Sun (Baltimore), Nov. 28, 1837; Dec. 2, 1837; Dec. 16, 1837; Dec. 20, 1837; Dec. 22, 1837.|
|20||U.S. Archives, Mint Correspodence, 10E1/19/8, Transfer Box 27; Julian (above, n. 2), p. 81.|
|21||See above, n. 20.|
|22||Ms. in ANS Library, New York City.|
|23||Edgar H. Adams, "J.M.L. & W.H. Scovill," The Numismatist 1912, p. 233; Reed (above, n. 9), p. 19.|
|24||U.S. Archives, Mint Correspondence, 10E1/19/8, Transfer Box 35.|
Coinage of the Americas Conference at the American Numismatic Society, New York City
October 29, 1994
© The American Numismatic Society, 1995
Prior to 1830, transportation on the streets of New York City was by foot, personal horse or carriage, or by hired carriage or stage. Travel to the outer towns of Yorkville or Harlem was made by infrequently scheduled private stages. The census of that year placed the population of the city living below 14th Street at 191,781, with only 11,808 living on the rest of the island.1 The business district, located south of City Hall, was viewed as overcrowded with pedestrian and horse traffic. Many prominent businessmen and politicians agreed that something should be done to transport workers and merchants quickly, safely and cheaply within the irregular colonial streets which exist below 8th Street.
In 1821 the City Council published a plan for expansion of the city. This included widening of streets and mapping of the remaining undeveloped area of Manhattan Island into the street-avenue grid pattern from river to river.2 Although drawn on a map, many of these blocks were not graded or marked into lots until the mid-1850s, except for the small hamlets of Yorkville and Harlem on the east side, and Bloomingdale on the west side of the island.
The first transportation token associated with New York City is, to my mind, a New Jersey issue. The U.S.M. Stage issue of John Gibbs was good for travel on his stage operating from the manufacturing town of Belleville, NJ, to the Hoboken Ferry, and thence to New York City (fig. 1).3 Whether the stage dropped passengers off at the ferry or took them all the way into the city is not known.
What we do know is that Mr. Gibbs operated a button manufacturing plant, which expanded into trade checks, several Hard Times Tokens, coinage for Brazil and tokens for Liberia. Mr. Gibbs is reported to have operated his stage starting in 1829 and it is listed in newspaper notices of 1831. Gibbs may have operated the stage as late as 1846 when he relocated to Forsythe Street in Manhattan. Mr. Gibbs later moved to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and soon thereafter vanishes from the public record.
The first railroad on Manhattan Island, the New York City and Harlaem, was chartered in April 1831, to construct a double track route along Fourth Avenue from East 23rd Street to the Harlem River.4 In February of the following year permission was granted to extend the line southward along Fourth Avenue to Union Square and then on Bowery to Prince Street. It was on this southern extension that track was first laid, and on November 14, 1832, service commenced using two 20-passenger cars riding on rails and pulled by a team of two horses each. The service eventually ran cars every 15 minutes or so, and passengers could board at any block along the route. In the first seven years of operation the fare varied between six and twelve and a half cents for a single trip, regardless of distance.
Examples of the token are known in white metal, pewter and copper. They also exist with three distinct counterstamp, a rosette (fig. 2) and a dog's head on the white metal issues, and a palm branch on the copper issue. Regular and extended use is indicated in that most of the extant examples are well worn. The reason for the various counterstamps is not documented. The initials B & S NY, under the coach have been associated with the firm of Bale & Smith, jewelers, the probable engravers and manufacturers of the token. It is beleived that these tokens were not used after 1840.
The New York City and Harlaem Railroad was split in 1859 when the first Grand Central Terminal was planned. The railroad became exclusively distance travel steam locomotives which ended service at the new 42nd Street terminal. The tracks in the city streets south of 42nd Street, and along other routes, became the "City Line," using horsecars exclusively.
The era of the Omnibus for New York City City seems to begin around 1830, but the first listing of omnibus operators in a city directory does not appear until 1850, when 22 different firms are listed operating with 589 vehicles.5 They operated 27 approved routes varying in length from two and a half to four miles. All but two of the routes operated south of 48th Street. Why there is little mention of omnibuses before 1850 in contemporary sources is not known; however only the firms listed after 1850 match the token issuing firms. The City's population in 1850 had risen to 515,547.6
The omnibuses were true stages, they had flat, not flanged wheels, and early ones even had side doors, rather than the refined rear entrance door. Of the 22 companies listed in 1851, only six issued tokens. Five of the six tokens were struck in lead the sixth was struck in brass. Only three of the six operators ran more than one route, and as the tokens bear the legend "Transfer Ticket" it seems very likely that the intention of the tokens was for use between companies. The common obverse depicts an omnibus of four windows, with divided panes of glass, and stairs leading from the rear door. The reverse of the tokens list the route or line name and the operator's name with some added ornamentation.
The issuers of the type metal tokens are: The Eighth Avenue Lines of Finch Sanderson & Co. who operated two routes (fig. 3). The first route started at 42nd Street, down Eighth Avenue to 4th Street, over to Sixth Avenue down through Carmine, Bedford and Houston to Broadway, then to Maiden Lane to the Fulton Ferry. The second route began at 23rd Street and went down Eighth Avenue through Bleeker to Broadway, then down to Whitehall and South Ferry. This firm's token also exists in a rare variety with the Sanderson name scratched out on a full struck token.
The Fourth Avenue Line of Hasking & Wilkins operated one route from East 32 Street down Fourth Avenue to Broadway, then on Broadway to Whitehall and the South Ferry (fig. 4). An engravers' error in the die renders the operator's name as Haskins, with an "S" rather than a "G".
The Chelsea Line of Kipp & Brown operated three routes (fig. 5). One started at 48th Street southbound on Ninth Avenue to Hudson, then Canal to Broadway, and down Broadway to Bowling Green. The second route started at 28th Street and followed the same route to Bowling Green. The third route began at 31st Street and went down Tenth Avenue to 14th Street to Hudson, down to Chambers to Greenwich to Battery Place.
The [5th &] 7th Avenue Lines of Marshall & Townsend operated from 42nd Street down Seventh Avenue to Greenwich, over to Sixth Avenue to Amity over to Broadway then south to Fulton and east to the Fulton Ferry (fig. 6). The die was originally engraved as 5th and 7th Avenue. Three varieties of the tokens exist: struck with the full legend, which included 5th, the "5th" scratched out on a struck token, or a large rectangle blocking over "5th &" in the die. The operator's misspelling to a plural "Marshalls" remained uncorrected.
The Sixth Avenue Line run by Young & Ward operated two similar routes (fig. 7). They both started at 34th Street and proceded south on Sixth Avenue, one turned at 8th Street, the other at 6th Street to turn south on Broadway to Whitehall and the South Ferry.
The Telegraph Line of William Tyson & Co. operated from the East River's Williamsburg Ferry, through Grand Street to and down Broadway, to Canal, through Canal to Greenwich, down Greenwich to Cortlandt, to the Jersey City Ferry on the Hudson River (fig. 8).7 These are the only tokens issued in brass in the series. There are two major reverse die varieties: the first with the legend along the edge of the field, and the second with an arched legend nearer the center. Two sub-varieties are distinguished by the placement of stops in the operator's name.
As there were many meeting points of one or more routes and all of the routes converge along Broadway somewhere between Canal Street and City Hall, thus if a transfer were to take place, it would/should/could have been in that area. However there is no documentation of this, nor as to the amount of the fare shared between the company of origin which took in the money and the company of receipt which took the transfer token.
The operator of a omnibus rode on the top outside front. The fare box was located inside the front, under the driver, who had a viewing hole in his area from which he could see the fare deposited, and pass down to the passenger the required change or transfer token. All the tokens in this group were issued with a small hole, so that they could be strung when kept by the driver.
At a later date, to assist in the collection of the fare, a grooved track was placed on a interior wall of the coach to roll a coin fare into the collection box, which remained at the front.
To the collector, these groups of tokens are a challenge, as only the brass Tyson & Co. Telegraph Line is readily available. All the firms share a single obverse die. Thus it is safe to say all were struck by the same firm, but we do not know that firm's name nor why the tokens were not struck in a more durable metal than lead.
Within the 1850s alone, the fare changed from 2 cents per mile to a flat 6 cents, rose to 10 cents, and after business was lost to competing horsecars, compromised at 8 cents. Cash was the method of payment for the fare, and change was given in cash until the mid-1850s whe the omnibus operators substituted for change cardboard tickets valued at 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6 cents, good for future fares. The chits were accepted by the public with protest, and were withdrawn from use by 1864.8
A survey of traffic passing the corner of Broadway and Chambers Streets was conducted in 1852 by one Jacob Sharp. He reported that in a 13-hour period, 3,035 omnibuses and 4,779 other vehicles passed uptown, and 3,162 omnibuses and 4,723 other vehicles passed downtown. This puts the omnibus service at a 13-second headway.9 Quite frightening. Quite crowded. In time, Mr. Sharp would be granted a horsecar franchise, so this tabulation was done with some underlying self-interest.
What happened to these companies? By 1854, William Tyson no longer owned his franchise, and by 1857, all of the original 22 owners had changed. The franchises were being operated by other owners, or had been merged into one of three larger companies. For how long these transfer tokens remained in use, or whether they were used by any successor firms is not known. The omnibus route listings disappear from the City Directory after 1862. However, omnibuses continue to be mentioned in newspaper accounts, and exist in photographs well into the 1880s.
In late 1852 and early 1853, the City Council halted the granting of additional omnibus route franchises and turned their attention to the granting of railroad franchises on Second, Third, Sixth, Eighth, and Ninth Avenues. These "railroads" are really what we today call horsecar companies. To gain the lucrative franchises, the railroads enhanced each of the City Council members by amounts between $200 and $1,000 for each franchise granted.10
Of these five companies, only the Third Avenue Rail Road issued tokens, and they used four. All four are made of lead. The first two show an Omnibus, but with a coach design different than that of the previous group of issues (fig. 9). The second two tokens depict a railcar with platforms at either end, as would be used for a horsecar route (fig. 10). Several questions arise. Why depict an omnibus when using Rail Road in the firm name, especially when additional franchises were no longer being granted; and why the reverse designations of Yorkville and Harlem?
The franchise grant stipulated a 5 cent fare for any distance between Park Row and 61st Street, with a 6 cent fare for the ride to Harlem. Although the railroad was approved to lay tracks on Third Avenue all the way to the Harlem River, in actuality tracks initially were only laid to Yorkville. The extra distance seems to have been handled by the holders of the Third Avenue Omnibus franchise—Murphy & Flynn, who just happen to be two of the twelve directors of the Third Avenue Railroad.11 So our set of four tokens can probably be tied to the transfer northbound or southbound from omnibus or horsecar, and the collection of the extra fare.
The noticeable changes in the Omnibus from the previous group of tokens are the single pane of glass in each window and the fact that the front wheel of the coach comes just to the bottom of the car body. The issue depicting the railcar shows in good detail an 1850s coach which would be pulled by horses on rails laid in the street. The very small wheels and lack of a double and more ornate roofline would place it nicely in the pre-Civil War period.
Of particular note on both obverse designs, in the ground area under the vehicle, is a small letter "L." On the omnibus design it is by the left wheel; on the railcar it is under the right wheel (fig. 11). Could this be an obvious engraver's initial? Could it be a Lovett? If it does point to a Lovett, one must be remember that there were four Lovetts active as engravers in New York City at this time: George, John, Robert and Thomas.12 This is an exciting discovery, and one which requires further research.
A problematic token in the New York City series is the Durkee & Co. Omnibus token (fig. 12). The 1830 City Directory has a Nathan Durkee as a carte,13 and in 1835 as a hotel operator. No other years through the 1850s place a Durkee near an Omnibus franchise.
The size of the token, near that of a small cent, may place it in the Civil War years, but there are no listings in the City Directories of that era either. A popular issue for the collector, but for the time, a research puzzler.
The five early horsecar companies collected 31.7 million fares in 1857, using 288 horsecars and 1,722 horses.14 The drivers and conductors worked six 12- to 15-hour days and were paid under $2 a day.15 For the owners, the profit was 1.7 cents per 5 cent fare, or 34% of revenue!
With the end of the Civil War, the city grew rapidly, and by 1870, the city's population of 942,000 lived equally north and south of 14th Street.16 By 1875, most of Manhattan Island was served by 12 horsecar companies and they collected nearly 167 million fares for the year. The Elevated Steam Railroad franchises began construction and were soon operating along Second, Third, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth and Ninth Avenues. None were to issue tokens.
In 1875, Chapter 606 of the Laws of the State of New York City, called the Rapid Transit Act, curtailed further expansion of horsecar routes within the city, but allowed existing routes to continue operation. Steam elevated routes were expanded, a discussion of cable propelled systems was entertained, and once again, the proposal for a subway was made and defeated.
The 1880s saw a rapid succession of mergers of smaller horsecar operators into either the Third Avenue Railway Company or the very much larger Metropolitan Street Railway Company. In most cases to conserve funds the horsecars were not repainted, and thus the old familiar route names continued (fig. 13). A merger of the 42nd Street, Manhattanville and St. Nicholas Avenue Railway into the Third Avenue system caused a now scarce white metal token to be issued. The reverse informs us that it was good at 86th Street to Boulevard or Amsterdam Avenue. "Boulevard" was the term used for upper Broadway, then still largely undeveloped. Both of these transfer destinations were served by the cars of the Third Avenue system, the new parent firm.
Horsecars continued in service on the streets of Manhattan until 1917. In the city's ongoing quest for better transportation, a franchise was granted in 1883 to construct a cable powered railway, similar to the system successfully employed in San Francisco in 1873. The cable was housed in a buried conduit as a central third rail. Although cleaner than the horsecars, it required a high capital expenditure to commence operation, and vigilant maintenance of the machinery and cable network. Its utility in relatively level New York City was short-lived.17 Within a few years advancements in technology would bring about reliable electric power and the introduction of streetcars to replace both horse and cable routes.
The last nineteenth century New York City token was for a transfer from the Third Avenue Railroad to the Cable Line for One Fare Going West (fig. 14). This 23mm white metal issue is a bit of a puzzler, as it is good for a passenger transferring from the Third Avenue Streetcar (not the Elevated, which was also operating) to a cable car. But why only in a westerly direction? Why not a transfer in the easterly direction from the Cable Line to the Third Avenue route? Again, there are no currently reliable sources for answers.
The discussion to this point has stressed the token, and little has been advanced for the cause of the ticket. Ironically, in the beginning there were tickets for stages, and now 170 years later there are tickets (or as high tech America calls it—Fare Cards) again. Stage Companies, omnibus operators, horsecars, steam elevated railroads, ferries, cable railroads, streetcars and by 1904 the subway too, all used the ticket as their main fare collection control device. Many of the horsecar companies considered themselves railroads, and after all, railroads used tickets.
16. An intaglio engraved ticket of the New York City and Brooklyn Bridge Railroad Co.
The tickets show advancements in printing from basic letterpress (fig. 15) to fine intaglio work (fig. 16) worthy of banknotes. Tickets were sometimes reusable,18 but more often than not were for one time use, and of course, non-refundable. Prior to the twentieth century, the fare box was just a large collection box. It could accept coins, tokens and any variety of card ticket a company wanted to issue, but kept no tallies. Most companies accepted coins or one color ticket for a full fare and sold other color tickets in groups of two, three, five or fifteen at a discount to reward frequent use. At other times, companies issued a card pass valid for a week or a month, which had to be shown to the vehicle operator. Without a doubt, even when a cash fare was quite acceptable, that company also issued tickets.
Thus, with New York City City transportation as our example in the nineteenth century, it is the ticket rather than the token which really received wide use by the public. The several omnibus tokens would have only been handled by thousands, whereas the ticket in the post Civil War years was handled by millions.
The token as a fare collection alternative does not find its way into everyday use until after World War I. It was only then that the Johnston Fare Box Company was able to produce their 1914 development of a tabulating fare box which accurately recorded several sizes of tokens and all coin denominations.19
|1||Samuel B. Ruggles, Letters on Rapid Transit Published as Part of the Rise and Growth of the Metropolis (New York City, 1875).|
|2||Stephen Jenkins, The Greatest Street in the World, the Story of Old Broadway (New York City, 1911).|
|3||Russell Rulau, Standard Catalog of United States Tokens, 1700-1900 (Iola, WI, 1994).|
|4||Joseph W. Green, Jr., "New York City City's First Railroad, the New York City and Harlem, 1832 to 1867," New-York Historical Society Bulletin 10 (1926), pp. 107-23.|
|5||Doggetts' New York City City Directory, 1850-1851, p. 41.|
|6||Ruggles (above, n. 1).|
|7||Doggett (above, n. 5).|
|8||"City Railroads and Omnibuses," The New York City Times, October 12, 1864.|
|9||James B. Walker, Fifty Years of Rapid Transit, 1864-1917 (New York City, 1918).|
|10||Harry J. Carman, The Street Surface Railway Franchises of New York City City (New York City, 1919), pp. 78-107.|
|11||R.R. Bowker, "The Piracy of Public Franchises," Atlantic Monthly 88 (1901), p. 465.|
|12||G. Danielson Carroll, Carroll's New York City City Directory to the Hotels of Note (New York City, 1859).|
|13||Longworth's American Almanac, New York City Register and City Directory for the Fifty-sixth Year of American Independence (New York City, 1831).|
|14||"City Railways; Necessity of a Settled System for Building Railroads in the City," The New York City Times, April 16, 1859.|
|15||"Our City Railroads," The New York City Times, November 18, 1858.|
|16||Ruggles (above, n. 1).|
|17||"Horses to be Superseded; Street Car Men Favoring the Cable Motor," The New York City Times, October 12, 1864.|
|19||I would like to thank Dr. Richard Doty for the invitation to participate in this conference, and John Kleeberg and Normand Pepin for reading various incarnations of this paper and offering helpful suggestions. A special thanks to collector Steve Tannenbaum for the loan of tokens and tickets from his extensive New York City collection; to Howie and Suzanne Samelson and Stanley Dusek for the loan of their collection of horsecar bells and library materials; to Neil Schafer for some early tickets and, for their photographs and slides, Frank Deak of the ANS, and at Krause Publications, Ross Hubbard and Wayne Conner.|
Coinage of the Americas Conference at the American Numismatic Society, New York City
October 29, 1994
© The American Numismatic Society, 1995
The Far West has fascinated Americans since the nation was founded. Following the explorations of Lewis and Clark, fur buyers retraced their route to Oregon. At the same time, traders took manufactured goods into Mexican territory to exchange for gold, silver, and horses. Later, emigrants used these trails to settle in these territoies.1
Beginning in the 1840s, migration to the Far West increased substantially. The Santa Fe Trail, opened in 1821, led from Independene, Missouri, to Santa Fe, New Mexico, or—by an extension known as the Old Spanish Trail—to Los Angeles. It saw an increase in traffic from an average of about 150 people a year in 1843 to many thousands in the 1850s. Better known was the Oregon Trail, also called the California and Oregon Trail. It, too, began in Independene, Missouri, and terminated in Astoria, Oregon. The California Trail branched off beyond the Rocky Mountains and led to Sacramento. Beginning with a single party migrating to California in May, 1841, over 1,400 people left for Oregon in 1844 and 3,000 more in 1845. With the Gold Rush, over 20,000 people left for California from Missouri in April 1849 alone—and thousands more followed in May. By 1852, it is estimated that 100,000 people had taken the Oregon Trail west.
The outfitting of all these wagon trains brought prosperity to Independence (fig. 1), Westport, and other nearby assemblage points, such as Weston, Missouri (fig. 2). Independence and Weston made the most of their role in the Westward movement. As recorded in an 1867 publication, Weston's "frontier position renders it a favorable starting-point for the emigrants to California, etc., and the vast extent of this emigration, in years past, opened a ready market for cattle, provisions, etc., at excessively high prices."2 Independence is described in the same book as "a thriving town...and a place where many of the emigrants to Oregon and California procure their outfit.... The prodigious tide of emigration which passed through this place for years, created a demand for horses, provisions, and merchandise, at prices which enriched the farmers and traders of this vicinity."3
2. Weston in 1850, with a population of 5,000, was then the second largest town on the Missouri River after St. Louis.
One entrepreneur who sought his fortune in the West was Abraham M. Abrahams. While he was an Ashkenazic Jew, I have not been able to discover whether his family came to America from Germany or England, or the names of his parents; there are several possible candidates in the census records. In any case, he was born in Pennsylvania, apparently in 1810. About 1834, he married his first wife, whose name is unknown. He first appeared in the Philadelphia city directory for 1837, compiled in 1836. At that time, in his mid-20s, he was listed as a trader, living at 342 S. 2nd St. A daughter, Eleanor, was born about 1836, and a son, Michael W., about 1838, both in Pennsylvania. In 1840, another son, Morris, was born in the state.
When the Census of 1840 was taken in October (fig. 3),4 there were nine persons living in the Abrahams household: A. Abrahams; his wife; Eleanor; Michael; Morris, then a newborn; two women, aged 15-20, possibly younger sisters or servants; and two elderly people, probably a grandfather, born about 1765, and grandmother, born about 1770. At that time Abrahams resided in the 1st Ward, Southwark, Pennsylvania. (The suburb of Southwark was incorporated into the city of Philadelphia in 1854.) He was still living at the same address in 1836, when the Directory for 1840 was compiled,5 but now his occupation was listed as "waterman," that is, operator of a water taxi across the Delaware to Camden, N.J. The Directory for 1841 also gives this occupation, but the Abrahams family had then moved to 9 Catherine Street, only a few doors from the Delaware River. He was possibly associated with Jacob Larson of 9 German Street, another waterman who is listed two lines below him in the census.
A waterman is one of those extinct occupations that one finds while researching the past. The only information that I have come across is in a juvenile book, The Book of Trades, published in England in 1804, and reprinted many times; the first American edition was published in Philadelphia in 1807. The original watermen plied for fares across the Thames, before the bridges were built. The Book of Trades states, "A waterman requires but little to enable him to begin business, viz. a boat, a pair of oars, and a long pole with an iron point and a hook at the lower end, the whole cost of which is not more than twenty pounds. Sometimes two men belong to one boat; in other cases, a boat belongs to a single waterman."6
Joseph H. Abrahams, another son, was born in Pennsylvania about 1843. Shortly thereafter, his first wife apparently died while only in her late 20s. A year or two later, Abraham Abrahams married Phebe, then about 22 or 23, who was born in England. Around this time he moved to New York City State, where another son, Elias M. Abrahams, was born about 1846.
Soon afterward, Abraham Abrahams moved again, this time to St. Louis, where he was in the tobacco business for a number of years. In 1853, his sister had a retail dry goods business on 8th St. in St. Louis, and he had a brother living there in November 1854, though I don't know whether they preceded him there or not.7
In St. Louis, Abrahams learned of the huge profits to be made in the Mexican trade. In 1849, or early in 1850, he moved to Jackson County, Missouri, where he formed a partnership with a Mr. Rosenthal, a fellow Jew, to freight goods from Independence to Santa Fe, hiring an employee, Mr. Van Epps, to supervise their wagon trains.8 They were instantly successful: their first mention in Louis Tappan's Mercantile Agency, in March 1850, reported "Jews do a heavy business and presumed entirely good for any costs they make." At the Census of 1850, taken in August, he was listed as a merchant in Blue Township, Jackson County, Missouri (fig. 4), near or in Independence. At the time of the census there were eight persons in his household: his wife, daughter, all of his sons, a Sarah Levi, 19, who was born in London, and a slave! Michael, Morris, Joseph, and Elias were all in school. Sarah Levi, possibly a kinswoman of his wife, was probably a servant.9
Another credit report, from January 1851, was also positive. On May 8, 1851, his son bought 1/4 gallon of molasses from the store of Lemuel Shore in Independence for 15 cents, putting it on account, and on January 9, 1852, A.M. Abrahams came in and settled his account for 75 cents (fig. 5). Whether The Peoples Outfitting Store was opened as soon as Abrahams came to Independence and was the name for his freighting business, or whether it was a separate enterprise, is unclear, but it would seem to have been operating before June 5, 1852, as he registered a Deed of Trust on that day for a chattel mortgage for all the goods, wares, merchandize, clothing, etc. in the Store House, part of Lot No. 51 in the city of Independence.10 His credit was sufficient for a Mr. Jabez Smith to advance him $2,000 on this security. And it is not hard to see why; Lot No. 51, at the corner of Lexington and Liberty Streets, faced Court House Square in the center of the city (fig. 6).
Abrahams credit reports continued good through February 1853, though the credit reporter, perhaps out of antisemitism, was suspicious of Abrahams's worth as a businessman and at one point in 1853, accused him of making false statements. Abrahams was thus able to borrow another $4,200, apparently using the same security, according to another Deed of Trust dated May 17, 1853. The lenders were Joshua Hobbs and Elihu C. Rice.11 He continued to operate his retail and wholesale tobacco business on Chestnut street in St. Louis into 1853, selling to "his brethren," according to the credit reporter. Another reporter of this period wrote that he did not think that Abrahams could raise more than $3,000, but added, "His character and habits are good. He is a cautious man and rated an honest Israelite."12
By fall, however, problems had begun to arise. The November 1853 credit report said that he was "cramped for funds." Conditions worstened in December; the reporters wrote that Rosenthal's actions—not described—had left their business "much disarranged, but entirely safe," though it was rumored that they were dissolving their partnership.13 Nevertheless, on December 16, 1853, Abraham M. Abrahams and Phebe Abrahams, "his wife," sold two residential lots, Lots 11 and 12 in Henry Rubey's Addition, to the City of Independence, located four blocks south of his store (fig. 7); when they originally purchased these lots is not known.14 About this same time, he bought the east half of Lot 17 in nearby Westport, Missouri (fig. 8),15 and may have moved his family there. On February 8, 1854, it was recorded that the $2,000 chattel mortgage of June 5, 1852, was satisfied in full.
On the same day, a mortgage was recorded on his lot in Westport, showing $3,500 owing to Miles W. Buford and Jabez Smith, and a promissory note signed for this amount by A.M. Abrahams. A Deed of Trust recorded February 18, 1854, gave as security the east half of Lot No. 17 in the town of Westport; all the goods, wares and merchandise in the Store house on this lot; and all the goods, wares and merchandise in the Store Room "now kept and occupied by said Abrahams & Co. in the City of Independnce."16 So by February 18, 1854, he had a second store in Westport, though he still controlled the Independence store. I am not certain what distinction is to be read into the several deeds that refer to the Independence location as a "Store house" until the Westport store opened, then Westport is called a Store house and Independence a Store Room. It seems unlikely that such a prime location as that on Court House Square would be converted to a mere warehouse; perhaps he no longer lived there, or perhaps he just occupied less of the building: "rooms" instead of the whole "house." On April 28, 1854, he paid off the $4,200 loan of May 17, 1853.
At this point Abraham M. Abrahams had two stores and no debt except for his Westport mortgage of $3,500, plus advances from the local merchants. But the firm of Abrahams and Rosenthal was in a weakened condition: a few days later, on May 1, they took out yet another mortgage and chattel mortgage on his lot in Westport and his stock of goods in both Westport and Independene, but were able to borrow only $1,140 from a William Rice, at 6% interest.17
Through the summer, Abrahams and Rosenthal continued to send a considerable amount of goods to New Mexico and Chihuahua, but said in July that they could not get returns from Mexico and asked for 12 months time. Some creditors were willing to wait, but others apparently cut them off, and the credit reporter began to express the suspicion that they were planning to cheat.18 On August 12, Abrahams made a partial payment of $2,250 to Buford and Smith on the Westport mortgage.
Conditions worstened in the fall of 1854. In October, it was reported that Abrahams had left Independence for St. Louis aboard the steamboat Polar Star, ostensibly to pick up a government draft with which he would pay all demands. Abrahams and Rosenthal were said to be in debt $12,000 and unable to pay, and the local merchants were planning to attach their 80 mules if not satisfied. Abrahams and Rosenthal then threatened to make assignments to prefer other creditors over those in Independence if sued, and this—coupled with continued promises to pay—stopped this action.19 But when Abrahams's mortgage on his lot in Westport fell due unpaid, Buford and Smith foreclosed for the balance on November 2. On Saturday, November 25, 1854, the east half of Lot 17 in Westport was sold at auction for cash at the east front door of the Court House in Independence to a Louis Vogel, for $1,670.20
This transaction cancelled Abrahams's note: of the $3,500 borrowed, he had paid $2,250 and Vogel $1,670, for a total of $3,920—more than enough to cover the interest and expenses of sale. He may even have received some money back. But he was definitely out of business in Westport by November 25, 1854. Naturally, Abrahams and Rosenthal had no credit by this point, though both had returned to Independence and still promised to make good on all debts. But to avoid attachment of the mules, Abrahams and Rosenthal drove them 150 miles into Howard County, Missouri, only to be caught in flight. However, Abrahams had signed the herd over to his brother in St. Louis, thwarting his creditors, and similar steps had been taken to shield their holdings in Santa Fe. By now the Independence business community had decided that both men were running "a large swindling operation."21
On December 1, 1854, the firm of Abrahams and Rosenthal was dissolved. While they continued to promise that they would make satisfactory settlement of all debts, the local credit reporter wrote "It appears evident that a fraud is about to be imposed on creditors here." Their outstanding debts were variously reported in November and December at from $2,000 to $20,000. There were rumors that Abrahams had received $12,000 in September and $2,000 more in October—which he denied. Both Abrahams and Rosenthal moved to St. Louis in December 1854. The last credit report on them, for January 1855, is succinct: "Broke up; run off; put out and gone, leaving little but some large debts and reputation of infamous scoundrels as we unhesitatingly endorse it." The reporter added that Abrahams had told creditors in Philadelphia that the mule transaction was a "sham."22
Did Abrahams and Rosenthal really set out to defraud their creditors from the start? It seems unlikely. Certainly their businesses failed, perhaps due to poor management on Rosenthal's part. Their Independence creditors wavered between suspicion based on bigotry and speculation based on greed, letting the latter get the upper hand as they continued to extend credit to a troubled operation. And Abraham M. Abrahams showed his own wiliness as he tried to salvage something from his bankruptcy. But it is improbable that a 42-year-old man with a reputation for good character and honesty would turn into a ruthless swindler within 18 months.
Abraham Abrahams is not found in the St. Louis City Directory for 1854-55. He may have operated The Peoples Outfitting Store in Weston from late 1854 through late 1855 or even into 1856, though there is no record of him in Weston. More likely, though, he remained in St. Louis, for he was listed as a merchant in the St. Louis City Directory for 1857; two years later, Abraham Abrahams was shown as a commission merchant and trader, with son Morris, 20, working for him as a clerk and son Michael, 18, boarding at the same hotel as Michael.
Between 1858 and July, 1860, when the census was taken, the Abrahams family had taken up still another occupation: Abraham, Joseph and Elias were all listed as pawnbrokers. He was then living at C.A. Dallam's boarding house, and evidently the census taker obtained his information from the other boarders, since his surname and place of birth are incorrect, as are the ages of Joseph and Elias, whose place of birth is shown merely as U.S. His wife was listed as being born in England, but her name was given as Mary, not Phebe, and she was shown as being 10 years older than she actually was. Because of the other inaccurate information, I am reluctant to consider this evidence for a third wife.
While he was omitted from the Business Directory for 1863, his son Michael was listed, and even took out a quarter page ad (fig. 9). Abrahams returned to the Directory the next two years as a clerk, though his sons were all pawnbrokers (except for Elias, 17, who was a student at Jones Commercial College). A Benjamin Abrahams, probably a nephew, was in partnership with his son Joseph. By 1865, he appeared as a broker, with other members of the family listed as pawnbrokers or brokers.
Fortune seemed to smile on him once again, for the Directory for 1867 carried a listing for A.M. Abrahams of Abrahams & Co., a partnership with E. Edwin Abrahams, probably another nephew, to operate the Eagle Loan Office. He and E. Edwin boarded at the Everett House (fig. 10), which in 1867 was one of the eight finest hotels in St. Louis. In 1867, the Directory for 1868 listed him with no occupation—an indication that he retired at age 56 or 57. He continued to board at the Everett House, however. Abrahams & Co. was not listed, though three other members of the family continued as pawnbrokers. The Directory for 1869 omitted Abraham Abrahams and all the rest of his family save Benjamin Abrahams, still in business as a pawnbroker at his old address. None of the Abraham Abrahams family remained in the St. Louis City Directory for 1870.
But the story doesn't quite end there, because "Abrahan Abrahms," white, born in Pennsylvania, 61, was living in the 5th ward, 10th subdivision, of the City of St. Louis when the Census of 1870 was taken. Retired for certain at the age of 60—he would have been 61 on his next birthday—he had finally become independently wealthy in the West. No trace has been located of him after that.
A.M. Abrahams is remembered today for the brass tokens he issued for his outfitting stores. There are two varieties, for The Peoples Outfitting Store in Independence or Weston.
The Independence variety was the first to be published, in Charles I. Bushnell's 1858 work on tokens (fig. 11).23 Though published in New York City in 1858, Bushnell states in the advertisement that it had been ready for the press for "more than two years,"24 though additions had been made to it from time to time. The Abrahams token was probably not one of these additions, as it is illustrated on plate 2. Bushnell, therefore, probably had this Independence token in his collection as early as 1856.
The second Abrahams token, marked Weston, was also listed in the Catalogue of American Store Cards prepared by a committee of the Numismatic Society of Philadelphia and published by Edward Cogan in 1859. The Abrahams tokens are the first two items listed. Dr. Mark W. Collet, a prominent member of the committee, owned a Weston token apparently as early as this. In any case, James Ross Snowden had collected one for the U.S. Mint Collection in 1859 or 1860, exhibiting it on Washington's birthday, 1860.25 When first known, both Abrahams tokens were considered great rarities and very desirable, because of the bust of Washington on the obverse. W.C. Prime, in 1861, lists both pieces at the astonishing price of $1.50 each —more than for a half dollar of 1794 or 1795.26
Both tokens share the same general type (fig. 12). The obverse has a bust of Washington right, with "M.A. ABRAHAMS" above and "10" below, and three six-pointed stars on either side. There is a border of denticles. This die is used with both reverses. According to Ben Fauver, the portrait of Washington was selected because of his non-partisan appeal in a time of heated political debate. While well executed, the portrait has been described as "by no means a flattering one of the Father of His Country."27 The reverse has "THE PEOPLES OUTFITTING STORE" and a single five-pointed star around the location, in two lines. As on the obverse, there is a border of denticles. The edge is reeded.
Though this is the general type, there is a surprising variation among individual specimens. Many seemingly almost uncirculated pieces are weakly struck and have a flat strike on the hair. All, or virtually all, of the Weston tokens have some degree of die deterioration on the reverse denticles, including severe die breaks extending to the rim and the denticles over "STORE" looking more like pellets than denticles. The obverse centering is uneven, with many specimens off-center toward the top. Planchet cracks are common, and laminations are known. There is an astonishing variation in weight from specimen to specimen of more than a gram, from a low of 8.32 g to a high of 9.50 g for high grade pieces, and a worn example is as light as 8.09 g. Apparently the mint was not able to control very well the thickness of the brass strip from which the planchets were cut.
Even the diameter varies slightly. This is because, as John Ford kindly pointed out to me, the Abrahams tokens are not struck in a closed collar! The reeding was somehow applied to the blanks first—by broaching, I think—and they were allowed to expand after striking, instead of the way used universally today of reeding the edge of a coin or token, by striking it in a grooved collar. The evidence of this unusual minting method may be seen in an occasional bifurcated letter, where the metal was allowed to expand outward, and in the radial flow lines from the denticles.
It is clear that the Abrahams tokens were not made by the leading nineteenth-century maker of merchant tokens, The Scovill Manufacturing Company. They are not of the usual Scovill work, are not mentioned in the Scovill correspondence, and were not included in the restrikes of Scovill tokens made about 1858-59. Since the head of Washington is not used on any other token, the prolific New York City and Philadelphia manufacturers can probably be excluded also. Because of Abraham's English wife and servant, I thought that they were possibly struck in London or Birmingham. However, I showed a piece to Tim Miller of Baldwin's, who was the editor of R.N.P. Hawkins's definitive book on makers of British nineteenth-century metallic tokens and checks, and he assured me that they were not of London or Birmingham die work.
Michael Pfefferkorn has suggested that they were made in St. Louis, and that there were several die sinkers there at that time capable of such work. Abrahams's several business and family connections there make this very likely. Wherever the mint was located, though, it must have been just starting out with token production, since it had yet to master the niceties of strip rolling, die hardening, and edge reeding.
Why were these tokens issued? There are two possible explanations — as a metal store card or as a trade token. During the 1850s, so many store card tokens imitated the design of current U.S. gold coins, chiefly $10 gold pieces, for use as game counters or poker chips, that Michael Pfefferkorn has written of this era as the Spiel Marke Period. The Abrahams tokens are struck in brass, are the same size as a $10 gold piece, and are even marked with a "10" on the obverse. However, they lack both the Liberty head and eagle.
If they are trade tokens, the "10" must stand for 10 cents. Though there is no precedent for this, half dime tokens of German silver were issued by Nicholson's Grocery of St. Louis about this time. Certainly there was a shortage of small change along the frontier: William Paxton's Annals of Platte County, Mo. notes, under June 20,1852, "The small coin has all left the country and 'shin-plasters' are issued by merchants, redeemable when $5 is presented."28 While 10 cents seems like a small sum compared to the cost of an outfit to travel to Oregon, Abrahams may have needed tokens to pay the local farmers for meal, etc. just as twentieth-century general store proprietors did, as Mike Pfefferkorn has suggested to me, or simply to make change for purchases by his resident trade. Another possible trade token use is as a metal coupon, to be distributed in St. Louis to induce emigrants to call on The Peoples Outfitting Store in order to receive their discount.
While we can only speculate, my preference is for the coin shortage trade token explanation. Though some Abrahams tokens seem to have sliding wear that we might associate with game counter use, they are not known with the heavy wear often seen on such pieces. The design doesn't look much like a gold coin, and they don't seem to turn up in groups, as we might expect for counters. If they were passed out in St. Louis, there ought to be more Independence tokens than there are, and they should be found there; instead, examples with definite find locations have come from the Independence area.
One of these, no. 1.9 in the appended corpus of Independence tokens, was hoed up about 10 years ago on property originally owned by Jackson County pioneer Dr. Lyddall W. Twyman, who lived near the find spot at the very time Abraham Abrahams kept his store in Independence. This location is west of Independence, close to where the Santa Fe Trail passed on its way to the Missouri River. From the 1850-era dime, large cent, and early glass also found in the vicinity, the finder, Don Parish, thought that a store may have stood on this site in the 1850s.29 This find is certainly more suggestive of currency than spiel marke use. The token is in rather poor condition, and was not improved by being cleaned with a wire brush!
Another local find is no. W.60 in the appended Weston corpus, a bad condition piece "found in some junk" and donated to the Weston Historical Museum in 1978, by a non-collecting couple from Kansas City, Kansas. Unfortunately, they are no longer at the same address they were in 1978, and have not been located so that more details can be learned.
While the corpus of Abrahams tokens of Independence and Weston is very incomplete, especially for the Weston tokens, it at least allows us to establish a minimum number of survivors. For Independence, there are at least 10 and probably 11 different specimens among the 18 appearances shown; of course, there are probably more in existence than this. This will necessitate a revision of Bruce Smith's estimate of from 5 to 8 survivors. John Ford wrote me that he estimates the rarity to be High R6 to Low R7, on the Sheldon scale, or about 10 to 20 pieces. This seems to me to be about right.
The Weston token is probably too common to be counted accurately by a census such as this, as many are held in smaller collections which are generally missed. Incomplete as it is, the corpus nevertheless contains at least 41 and probably 44 different pieces out of about 100 appearances mentioned. Once again, Bruce Smiths estimate of 50-75 pieces in existence seems low, though I cannot prove that more than 75 specimens exist. However, other specialists have provided me with much higher numbers: Steve Tanenbaum, over 100; George Fuld, 150 or more; and John Ford, Rarity 3 "at best" on the Sheldon scale, or 201 to 500! My own guess, subject to revision, is about 100 to 150, or about three to four times the minimum number known. I think that the higher estimates are due to these tokens tending to concentrate in the hands of a few specialists, and thus seeming to be commoner than they really are. In fact, they are quite scarce compared to other tokens of the period.
Can we estimate the original mintage with any degree of confidence from these figures? Assuming that the Independence token was issued first, a characteristic ratio of 2% would give an original mintage of 500 to 1,000 if 10 to 20 pieces exist. This would equal a face value of $50 to $100 if the tokens were intended as dimes, which seems reasonable to me. We are probably unlikely to get any closer than this, though I favor $50 face as a more reasonable amount.
But if even 500 pieces were minted, you may well ask, where are the other 480 to 490? I suspect that A.M. Abrahams destroyed them himself when he relocated his store, sending those on hand back to the mint to be recoined with his new address. This would explain the total absence of high grade pieces. The Weston pieces, on the other hand, are mostly leftovers, with very few worn pieces, since the second store was open such a short time. The original mintage was probably about the same, say 500.
When I started this project I thought that the high grade pieces might be restrikes of the 1860s, as the price of Weston tokens fell from $1.50 in 1861 to 12 cents in 1884. However, as a result of studying the degree of die deterioration for specimens of various conditions, it appears that at least one well-used piece is from a more deteriorated die than another piece in nearly uncirculated condition. So I now think that all Abrahams tokens are original strikes of the 1850s, and that the uncirculated/about uncirculated pieces are simply remainders.
There is one other mystery that is not yet cleared up, however: the date of issue of the Weston tokens. As stated earlier, there is no record of Abraham M. Abrahams ever being in Weston. This is all the more surprising, since Paxton's Annals of Platte County lists all the business men at Weston year by year from the 1840s through the 1860s, yet Abrahams is never mentioned at all.
We know that all the Abrahams tokens have a die sinker's error on the obverse: his initials are given as "M.A." instead of the correct "A.M." Apparently the die sinker was also a beginner at the token business, for after carefully laying out the name "ABRAHAMS" in the correct letter order over the head of Washington, he next punched in the initials "A.M." so that they looked correct on the die. Unfortunately, he forgot that this reversed them on the actual token!
Could he have made an even more egregious error on the second reverse die? We know that Abrahams had a store in Westport, Missouri, during most of 1854. Westport is the closest town to Independence, while Weston is a considerable distance farther up the river, though it was much more famous at this time. Suppose that Abrahams never was in Weston, as seems likely, but when he ordered the tokens for his store in Westport he did so orally, and the die sinker—who perhaps had never heard of Westport—thought he said Weston? Or perhaps the die sinker simply neglected to make a memorandum of the order, and just assumed that Weston must have been the West- town meant.
Bizarre as this sounds, there are a number of similar die sinker's blunders in the Civil War token series of about 10 years later. And the only Weston token with a record of being found in Missouri known to me came from the Kansas City area, adjacent to Westport (which has now been swallowed up by Kansas City, Missouri) but quite far from Weston. If this theory is correct, then, the "Weston" tokens were actually issued in Westport, Missouri, between late 1853 and November 1854.
|1||I have had so much help in preparing this paper that my efforts amount almost to a synthesis of the work of others rather than an original study. First, anything said about the Abrahams tokens necessarily builds on the research of Bruce Smith, who first examined the Census of 1850 record for Abrahams in detail. Of great value has been the research of local historian Ray Maier of Sibley, MO, who generously shared his findings with me, sent marked copies of the original documentation, provided information on the Santa Fe Trail Association 1993 symposium, and answered my question. Mike Pfefferkorn of St. Louis made a special trip to the St. Louis Public Library to check the St. Louis city directories and census records for 1860 to 1890, providing copies of the originals in many cases. Steve Tanenbaum looked up all the Abrahams families in the Philadelphia directories in his library for the time when Abrahams is presumed to have lived there. Joe Levine checked the Philadelphia directories that he has on microfiche from 1837 through 1847, and provided data on auction sales of Abrahams tokens. Richard Doty checked the St. Louis city directory for 1847 and 1848 for Abrahams listings. Pat O'Brien's research on Louis Tappan's credit reports, as presented in his paper, "Jewish Traders on the Santa Fe Trail," at the Santa Fe Trail Association symposium, September 25, 1993, proved extremely valuable in interpreting Abrahams's activities in Independence and St. Louis. Mrs. Etta M. Brill, curator of the Weston Historical Museum, provided quotations from early historical records, photographs, and information on the tokens in their collection. Mark Goldberg allowed me to consult the Superior Stamp & Coin/A-Mark library. Paul Bosco advised me of the sale of an Abrahams token in one of his auctions. And a number of museum curators, collectors, and dealers in merchant tokens have generously shared information on their holdings, going so far as to weigh their Abrahams tokens for me. Whenever possible, I verified the sources cited, and all conclusions presented are my own.|
|2||Prairie and Rocky Mountain Adventures, and a View of Our Western Empire (1867), p. 496.|
|3||Prairie (above, n. 2), pp. 495-96.|
|4||U.S. Census of 1840, Pennsylvania, 1st Ward, Southwark, Co. of Philadelphia, p. 28.|
|5||The Census of 1840 lists an A. Abrahams, an Abraham Abrahams and an Abraham Abrahams Jr. in Philadelphia County, in addition to five other Abrahams families with different first names, throughout the state. From reviewing the census records for each of these families, only A. Abrahams of Philadelphia County had children matching in age those of A.M. Abrahams of Jackson County, MO, ten years later. To confirm the identity of the A. Abrahams of the census with the A. Abrahams of the city directories, the addresses of those listed before and after him in the census were checked: A.B. Godshall, 340 S. 2nd (1841 directory); Abraham Abrahams, 342 S. 2nd (1840 directory); and Chas. B. Abernethy, NW 2nd & German (1841 directory).|
|6||Peter Stockham, ed., Little Book of Early American Crafts and Trades (New York City, 1976); see also, The Book of Trades, or Library of the Useful Arts (Philadelphia and Richmond, 1807), pp. 14-15.|
|7||As reported in various credit reports of Louis Tappan's Mercantile Agency, presented by Pat O'Brien in "Jewish Traders on the Santa Fe Trail", SFTA Symposium, September 25, 1993.|
|8||O'Brien (above, n. 7).|
|9||U.S. Census of 1850, Missouri, Jackson Co., p. 271.|
|10||Jackson Co., Missouri, June 5, 1852, Registry of Deeds, Book T, pp. 800-801.|
|11||Copy of Deed of Trust, Jackson Co., Missouri, May 17, 1853, Registry of Deeds, Book U, p. 76.|
|12||O'Brien (above, n. 8).|
|13||O'Brien (above, n. 8).|
|14||Copy of Quit-Claim Deed, Jackson, Missouri, December 16, 1853, Registry of Deeds, Book V, pp. 119-20.|
|15||Copy of Deed of Trust, Jackson Co., Missouri, February 18, 1854, Registry of Deeds, Book V., pp. 238-39.|
|16||See above, n. 15.|
|17||Copy of Deed of Trust, Jackson Co., Missouri, May 1, 1854, Registry of Deeds, Book V, pp. 422-23.|
|18||O'Brien (above, n. 8).|
|19||O'Brien (above, n. 8).|
|20||Copy of Notice of Trustees Sale of Real Estate, Jackson Co., Missouri, November 25, 1854, Registry of Deeds, Book W, pp. 253-55.|
|21||O'Brien (above, n. 8).|
|22||O'Brien (above, n. 8).|
|23||Charles I. Bushnell, An Arrangement of Tradesmen's Cards, Political Tokens, also Election Medals, Medalets, &c. Current in the United States of America for the Last Sixty Years (New York City, 1858), p. 69, pl. 2.|
|24||Bushnell (above, n. 23), p. .|
|25||James Ross Snowden, A Description of the Medals of Washington; of National and Miscellaneous Medals; and of Other Objects of Interest in the Museum of the Mint (Philadelphia, 1861), p. 51, no. 111.|
|26||W.C. Prime, Coins, Medals, and Seals, Ancient and Modern (New York City, 1861), p. 248.|
|27||"An Old Missouri Store Card" (citing Bankers' Home Magazine), The Numismatist 1912, p. 8.|
|28||William M. Paxton, Annals of Platte County, Missouri, from its Exploration Down to June 1, 1897; with Genealogies of its Noted Families, and Sketches of its Pioneers and Distinguished People, repr. ed. (Cape Girandean, MO, 1960).|
|29||Jackson County (Missouri) Historical Society Journal, Spring 1992, p. 4; conversation with Ray Maier Sept. 24, 1994.|
(Miller 40, Baker 507) a
|1.1||John J. Ford, Jr.||1995-1979 or 1980, ex Presidential Coin and Antique Co.||VF++. [Most Independence tokens "seen (a few at best) were either worn, beat-up or corroded!"]|
|1.2||Eric P. Newman||1995-Oct. 10, 1952, ex Stack's, lot 902; ex Thomas L. Elder 81 (July 8,1913[?]); ex William S. Appleton (AJN 1873, p. 3, 97) [d. 1903]; ex W. Elliot Woodward, May 17, 1864, lot 2510; ex John F. McCoy||VF+. Obv. centered. Two small planchet defects on rev. Die axis 6:00. 9.15 g|
|1.3||Bangs & Co. (W. Elliot Woodward)||May 26, 1884; ex J.N.T. Levick, lot 2130||VF|
|1.4||Bowers and Merena||Nov. 6, 1989, lot 3284; ex Lionel L. Rudduck(?) estate, before 1955-89||VF. "Bright yellow green, with darker toning in places. Softly struck at the base of the reverse."|
|1.5||Coin Galleries||July 18, 1995, lot 237; ex Presidential Coin and Antique Co., Dec. 3, 1988, lot 76; ex Paul Magriel (or George Hatie)||VF. Small planchet crack from truncation of bust, at 7:00, to rim. "Later obverse state, die cracked through base of denomination numerals." Dark brown fields, lighter brassy green-gold high points|
|1.6||Bangs & Co. (W. Elliot Woodward)||Apr. 30, 1886, lot 401; ex J.M. Tilton||VF. Silvered (per J.J. Ford, "Tilton silver plated many of his tokens!" )|
|1.7||Chapman Bros.||June 20, 1882, lot 1492; ex Bushnell (d. 1880), in Bushnell coll. before June 3, 1858 (as early as 1856 or earlier?)||F-VF|
|1.8||Bruce W. Smith||1994-1984 or before; ex Rossa and Tanenbaum stock, probably at IKO-TAMS show (R & T inv. 22465)||F-VF. Discolored, apparently dug. Flan crack through middle right star to Washington's chin on obv., between N and G of OUTFITTING on rev.; MO barely visable|
|1.9||Jackson County Hist. Soc. Archives, Independence, MO||1995-1992, on loan from Don Parish, who hoed it up in his garden ca. 1984; original property sold by John Coward to Frances C. Twyman, wife of Dr. Lydall W. Twyman, Jan. 26, 1852—sold by them Oct. 5, 1855||F. Dug, deep flan crack, porous (cleaned with wire brush). U.S. 1850-era dime, large cent (and other coins?) and early glass also found in vicinity—site of a store?|
|1.10||Ex George Fuld||?; ex Virgil M. Brand estate ca. 1954; ex NNC, collected 1889-1926||F. Weak strike on rev.|
|1.11||Bowers and Merena||Nov. 12, 1990, lot 4375; ex Michael B. Zeddies (collected ca. 1953-89)||F. Darkly toned on both sides. Planchet cracked at 4:00 on the obv.|
|1.12||Stack's||Oct. 17,1989, lot 463; ex Gilbert Steinberg||F. Some edge bruises, some odd three cornered dents|
|1.13||Elmer A. Piercy||Apr. 20,1972 (no lot no., listed as Baker 507); ex Elmer A. Piercy coll.||G-F|
|1.14||Presidential Coin & Antique Co.||June 1994|
|1.15||Donald M. Miller||1995-ca. 1950; probably ex Paul E. Sikes (sp?) of Glen Rock, PA, 1944; ex Tom Gordon; ex estate in Philadelphia bank; ex Dr. Mark W. Collette (killed at Battle of Chancellorsville, May 1863), in Collette coll. 1859? (Numismatic Soc. of Philadelphia/Edward Cogan, Catalogue of American Store Cards, n.d. , 1)|
|1.16||Pennsylvania Hist. Soc. (?)||Ex W.S. Baker (fl. 1884)|
|1.17||Bangs, Merwin||Jan. 19, 1863; ex Benjamin Haines, lot 946 (probably Miller 41)||VF|
|1.18||David E. Schenkman stock||Sold "only one or two" ca. 1970-91|
|a||Lacking in ANS and ANA collections as of July 1995.|
(Miller 41, Baker 506) b
|W.1||Eric P. Newman||1995-1944 or earlier||"Unc. Gem." Obv. centered; some rev. denticles broken to rim. Die axis 6:00. 9.34 g|
|W.2||Presidential Coin & Antique stock||July 28, 1994; ex Presidential Coin & Antique Co., June 1994||Brilliant Unc. Rev. denticles heavily cracked to rim|
|W.3||Bowers and Merena/Presidential Coin & Antique Co.||Apr. 12, 1986, lot 4649; ex Julian Lcidman||"Choice Uncirculated"|
|W.4||C & D Gale FPL||Feb. 8, 1985||"MS-65, lightly toned, nice"|
|W.5||Eric P. Newman||1995-1974 or earlier ("owned a long time")||"Unc." Obv. off center to top (10:00). Die axis 6:00. 8.32 g|
|W.6||Paul Koppenhaver||June 4, 1977, lot 291||Unc. Few spots|
|W.7||Bowers and Merena||Nov. 12, 1990, lot 4382; ex Michael B. Zeddies (collected ca. 1953-89)||Unc. Obv. centered. Partially detached planchet lamination at "BR" of obv.; flan crack to nose. "Deep green-yellow brassy toning"|
|W.8||Jack Collins||Ex Paul Bosco 1, Apr. 2, 1989, lot 130||Mostly Brilliant Unc; little spot on "A"|
|W.9||Stack's||May 6, 1992, lot 157; ex Gilbert Steinberg||"Choice" Unc. Tiny spot behind Washington's hair. Small flan pit under N|
|W.10||ANS||1995-1965 (1965.212); purchased from Stack's (part of a lot of 18 pieces of Washingtonia)||"AU58," sharply struck. Carbon spots, horizontal nick on Washington's cheek. Obv. centered. Rev. denticles broken to rim. Die axis 6:00. 9.502 g|
|W. 11||Eric P. Newman||1995-||AU. Obv. centered. Die axis 6:00. 9.20 g|
|W.12||ANS||1995-Jan. 15, 1891, gift of Daniel Parrish, Jr. (a collector of Washington exonumia)||"AU58," mottled surface. Weakly struck. Obv. centered. Rev. denticles broken to rim. Die axis 6:00. 9.116 g|
|W.13||Robert D. Leonard||1995-1977; ex Neil Sowards 1977; ex David Henkle; ex Marty Green; ex Henkle 1976-ca. 1959; ex Ben Odesser; ex ? ca. 1958-59||AU. Spots; rev. denticles cracked to rim. Obv. off-center to top (10:00). Die axis 6:00. 8.60 g|
|W.14||Bowers and Merena||Jan. 28, 1988, lot 3255— "primarily from the Virgil Brand coll."||"Choice AU...some original luster." Obv. off-center to top. Flaws on rev. denticles|
|W.15||Coin Galleries||July 18, 1995, lot 236; ex Bowers and Merena, Jan 28, 1988, lot 3256—"primarily from the Virgil Brand coll."||"Choice AU...surfaces as struck with traces of luster." Slight rim crudeness. Flaws on rev. denticles|
|W.16||Bruce W. Smith||1994-ca. 1975-79; ex a coin or token show||AU. Some gouges on rev. (half of M in MO obliterated. Obv. centered. Rev. denticles broken to rim. Die axis 6:00. 9.03 g|
|W.17||Michael Pfefferkorn||1995-Mar. 20, 1976; ex Presidential Coin & Antique Co., lot 903||AU. "Few tarnish spots." Obv. centered. Smaller diameter than W.41. Slightly broken rev. denticles. 8.64 g|
|W.18||Fayville Coin & Token Co., MB 10||Mar. 9, 1979, lot 240||AU|
|W.19||L.B. Fauver(?), Exonumia Symbolism and Classification, p. 123||Fl. 1982-||AU. Obv. off-center to top|
|W.20||Weston Hist. Museum, Weston, MO||1995-1966(118/66), gift of Richard G. Helman, M.D., Kansas City, MO, via Virginia Hall as a little girl (ca. 1940); ex a New York City collector||AU. "Excellent condition"|
|W.21||C & D Gale MB||July 1988, lot 767||Graded AU50|
|W.22||Greater NY Show dealer's stock||May 1978||AU-EF|
|W.23||Bowers and Merena||Nov. 6, 1989, lot 3285; ex Lionel L. Rudduck(?) estate, before 1968-89||AU-EF. Cleaned; light yellow & green blue. Obv. off-center to top. Rev. denticle flaws|
|W.24||Donald M. Miller||1995-ca. 1950; probably ex Paul E. Sikes (sp?) of Glen Rock, PA, 1944; ex Tom Gordon; ex estate in Philadelphia bank; ex Dr. Mark W. Collette (killed at Battle of Chancellorsville, May 1863), in Collette coll. 1859? (Numismatic Soc. of Philadelphia/Edward Cogan, Catalogue of American Store Cards, n.d. , 2)||VF-AU. Some spotting|
|W.25||Donald M. Miller||1995-1953 or earlier; ex David Bullowa (1912-53); ex Joseph Barnet (fl. 1902-44, d. before 1959)||VF-AU. Some spotting|
|W.26||Donald M. Miller||1995-1978 or earlier; ex Edmond A. Rice (1908-Oct. 20, 1978), joined ANA 1946; ex Chapman Bros. inv.(?)||VF-AU. Some spotting|
|W.27-30||John J. Ford, Jr.||1995-||EF. "Have 3-4 Weston tokens, EF or better"|
|W.31||Coin Galleries MB||Nov. 11, 1993, lot 1896;ex Bowers and Merena, Nov. 6, 1989, lot 3286; ex Lionel L. Rud-duck(?) estate, before 1955-89||EF. Faint granularity; sharpness of AU. "Very dark...deep brown black and blue." Obv. off-center to top. Flaws on rev. denticles|
|W.32||Bowers and Merena||Nov. 9, 1987, lot 4231; ex Bowers and Ruddy (Newport Coll.), Jan. 30, 1975, lot 1294||EF. Dark|
|W.33||Albert Jakira MB||Mar. 1992, lot 249; ex Presidential Coin & Antique Co., June 25, 1988, lot 077A; ex Paul Magriel (collected 1954-74, collection of Washingtonia "the finest in America" in 1956)||EF (Graded AU in Jakira MB)|
|W.34||Smithsonian Institution||1995-before 1980, "found in collection" (pre-1980, source unknown); ?ex U.S. Mint coll., from early 1859—Feb. 22, 1860: James Ross Snowden, A Description of the Medals of Washington, etc. (Philadelphia, 1861), p. 51, no. 111; exhibited 1860xy41900/02 (see Stephen T. Souder, A Brief Description of the Mint of the United States [Philadelphia, 1880], p. 13); not displayed in new Mint cabinet beginning 1902 and not in Comparette's catalogue, 1914; coll. transferred to SI 1923||EF. Flaws on rev. denticles. 9.24 g|
|W.35||Fayette||Ex W. Elliot Woodward, May 17, 1864, lot 2509; ex John F. McCoy||EF|
|W.36||Presidential Coin & Antique Co.||Dec. 1988 (Magriel/-Hatie), lot 41||EF|
|W.37||Paul Koppenhaver||Apr. 1987, lot 170||EF|
|W.38||Presidential Coin & Antique Co.||May 26, 1979, lot 700||VF-EF. Tarnished; tiny rim dent|
|W.39||Presidential Coin & Antique Co.||May 22, 1982, lot 50; ex Bangs & Co. W. Elliot Woodward, Apr. 30, 1886, lot 400; ex J.M. Tilton(?)||Silvered, sharp VF-XF. (Per J.J. Ford, "Tilton silver plated many of his tokens!")|
|W.40||Presidential Coin & Antique Co.||Dec. 14, 1991, lot 043||VF-EF|
|W.41||Michael Pfefferkorn||1995-ca. 1976-78||VF. Larger diameter than W. 17 or W.58 (compared directly). Obv. centered. Rev. denticles heavily broken; die break by E of STORE. Possibly gilt. 8.51 g|
|W.42||Ex Bruce W. Smith||Before Dec. 1987-1979; ex coin show dealer||VF. "Dug up"|
|W.43||Bangs, Merwin||Jan. 19, 1863; ex Benjamin Haines, lot 946 (probably Miller 41)||VF|
|W.44||Bangs & Co. (W. Elliot Woodward)||May 26, 1884; ex J.N.T. Levick, lot 2129||VF|
|W.45||World Exonumia||Aug. 13, 1983, lot 208||VF. Pitting, off-color, spots, corrosion|
|W.46||Presidential Coin & Antique Co.||Jan. 21, 1983, lot 71 (same as W.39, downgraded?)||VF. Silvered, slightly porous planchet|
|W.47||City Coin & Token MB||Sept. 1990, lot 19-10||VF|
|W.48||Charles Kirtley||Dec. 1989, lot 2118||VF20; few scratches|
|W.49||Presidential Coin & Antique Co.||Dec. 1988 (Magriel/Hatie), lot 77||VF. Small rev. edge dent at 1:00|
|W.50||City Coin & Token MB||June 1987, lot 19-16||VF|
|W. 51||Presidential Coin & Antique Co.||May 22, 1982, lot 49; ex Presidentail Coin & Antique Co., June 15, 1974, lot 313||F-VF. Planchet crack edge to nose; slightly dark|
|W.52||Smithsonian Institution||1994-before 1980, "found in collection" (pre-1980, source unknown)||F-VF. Corroded—dug? Flaws on rev. denticles. 8.34 g|
|W.53||Presidential Coin & Antique Co.||Jan. 21, 1983, lot 70 (same as W.51, downgraded?)||F. Small planchet crack; "light scratches on Obv. & Rx."|
|W.54||Christensen and Stone MB||June 20, 1964, lot 390; ex consignment G (store card coll.)||F|
|W.55||Stack's||May 6, 1992, lot 158; ex Gilbert Steinberg; ex Ed Janis; ex Christensen and Stone MB, early 1960s||Obv. well centered. Graded F by Ed Janis; XF, edge cut, rim dented, by Stack's (presumed to be the same piece)|
|W.56||J. Benjamin Yablok||1995-Aug. 1991; ex Albert Jakira MB, lot 280||F. Several old, small digs|
|W.57||Chapman Bros.||June 20, 1882, lot 1492; ex Bushnell (d. 1880)||G-F|
|W.58||Michael Pfefferkorn||1995-1978 or 1979; ex Oklahoma source||G-F. Smaller diameter than W.41 (compared directly). Very worn. Rev. denticles badly broken—more deteriorated die than W. 17 or W.41. Planchet laminations. Damage to head. 8.09 g|
|W.59||Presidential Coin & Antique Co.||Apr. 4, 1975, lot 1002||AG. C/s "J.T. WILSON"|
|W.60||Weston Hist. Museum, Weston, MO||1995-1978, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Espenlaub, Kansas City, KS, "found in some junk" (locally found; noncollectors)||AG. "Bad condition"|
|W.61||Thomas L. Elder||Cat. 81, July 8, 1913; ex William S. Appleton (AJN 1873, p. 3, 96)|
|W.62||Pennsylvania Hist. Soc.(?)||Ex W.S. Baker (fl. 1884)|
|W.63||Dr. Benjamin P. Wright||January 1898|
|W.64||Donald M. Miller||1994||"Might have been one other W.41"|
|W.65||Don Lewis||fl. 1979|
|W.66||Charles Littlefield||fl. 1979(?); now dispersed|
|W.67-74||Rossa and Tanen baum stock||Had 3-4 at a time|
|W.75-80||David E. Schenkman stock||Sold "at least 6" ca. 1970-91|
|W.81-83||Dick Grinolds stock||Had several|
|b||In addition to this listing, George Fuld "owned at least 15 to 20...pieces over the years...Several seen holed." Lacking in the ANA collection as of July 1995.|
Coinage of the Americas Conference at the American Numismatic Society, New York City
October 29, 1994
© The American Numismatic Society, 1995
The Civil War token occupies a unique place in American numismatics. Used as a substitute for money, it filled a specific need for the populace and the merchants alike, and ushered in a new industry. The method of selling and delivering these tokens probably started in England in the seventeenth century. Route salesmen, already selling hard goods to the local merchants, took on the line of custom advertising tokens (manufactured by one of the major die sinkers such as Scovill, Child's or Staunton). If the merchants couldn't afford approximately $8.50 per thousand custom tokens, the peddlar would sell one of his stock issues for $6.50 or so per thousand—still enough to realize a decent profit. These were sold throughout the Eastern United States (mainly New York City) and the Central United States. The amazing success of this merchandising system resulted in over 10,000 different varieties of tokens being produced with a total outpouring of well over 25,000,000 copies in circulation. A small percentage of these tokens were issued or reissued (restrikes) for private collectors (such as Edward Groh and J. N. T. Levick), but the vast majority of these varieties circulated extensively. The writer received a specimen in his pocket change in the 1950's, which may have been an accidental loss from a collection.
The Civil War gave rise to many innovations in coinage and currency as well as introducing various emergency specie. The Civil War period not only produced the Civil War token, but other widespread changes in our monetary system. The paper money of today is such an essential part of our everyday life that it is hard to realize that a valid system of paper currency (basically the green-backs) has existed only 135 years. The first fractional currency (shinplasers) were issued during the war. Towards the end of the war, the two cent piece and nickel three cent were struck. The now familiar motto "In God We Trust" was introduced, eventually finding its way to all coins except the cent. The first bronze Indian head cents were issued as patterns in 1863 and achieved general circulation in 1864. These sweeping changes have had a lasting effect on our current monetary system. We have only mentioned currency in the North to date. The Confederacy issued numerous forms of paper currency—government, state, county and private issues. Until recent years these "emergency" issues have never received the numismatic prominence they deserve. Even the metallic issues of the Confederacy, although very limited, are a very important reminder of the fiscal chaos that existed in the South. One can assume that the virtual lack of tokens issued in the Confederate States was due to the fact that all established private minters were located in the Norh.1 The few issues by border states are mostly non-contemporary in nature.
The Civil War gave rise to numerous forms of emergency specie (for small change), the variety and ingenuity of which has never been equalled. Early in 1862 all metallic currency was gradually withdrawn from circulation because citizens anticipating the possible increase in the value of all metals, commenced hoarding gold, silver and even copper. One can imagine the chaos that was created in the conducting of everyday business. There was no way to make change and the merchants were forced to resort to some means of promoting a method of exchange.
The first attempt at making change (without metal) was the use of ordinary U.S. postage stamps. Because of their flimsy nature, these stamps had a very short circulation life. Next, the merchants obtained very small envelopes, generally with an advertisement printed on them, so that stamps could have some protection. These envelopes were generally measured about 2×1½ inches (oblong), printed by merchant stationers in black ink, mostly from New York City City. All issues surviving are very rare. In 1862, John Gault patented a novel brass encasing for the stamps, with a mica cover so that the stamps could be readily visible, a topic dealt with in detail by Wayne Homren. 2 They were exclusively manufactured by Scovill Manufacturing Co. in Waterbury, Conn, with merchants' advertisements on one side and circulated in denominations of one to ninety cents. These encased stamps had one major disadvantage which limited their use—they cost too much to issue since the stamps alone represented face value.
The use of copper tokens as a method of trade was started back in 1789 with the New York City Mott tokens, the Talbot, Allum and Lee tokens of 1794, and reached a high point during the hard times period of 1830 to 1837.3 Most of these tokens were of large cent size, had a considerable amount of copper making them relatively expensive. The manufacturing of the U.S. small cent in 1857, led to the issue and acceptance of tokens in this small size containing only a fraction of a cent of copper. These tokens were not only a convenience to the merchants; they profited several tenths of a cent on each coin put into circulation.
Due to further need of change substitutes, various forms of fractional, privately issued paper currency appeared. Because it had so little intrinsic value (hard currency backing), it did not meet wide acceptance even though it circulated rapidly at first. Small size card-board scrip circulated in small denominations (several issuers of tokens also issued this type scrip). It disappeared quickly so that all issues are quite rare. Concurrently banks and municipalities issued paper currency in values under a dollar. Since the solvency of many of these entities also was questionable, they were mistrusted from their inception and forced better currency out of circulation according to Gresham's law.4
The most popular and realistic form of emergency specie was the small copper coins. Often imitative of Government cents, they first circulated in Cincinnati and New York City in late 1862. These coppers, generally the size and near the weight of the small bronze cent, met with general acceptance.5 In the spring of 1863 the Lindenmueller tokens were issued in New York City—a million pieces being struck.6 William H. Bridgens then issued the Knickerbocker ones (many of the patriotic type—see following paragraph) in quantities in many varieties.
Two general types of tokens were issued—the patriotic tokens and the tradesmen's cards. The patriotic series, mainly issued in and around New York City, had patriotic slogans on the coins, and bore no merchant's advertisements. Many of the specimens were in general an imitation of the currently popular Indian cent. Today, after five editions of the Fuld monograph, the number of patriotic varieties has grown from slightly over 1,500 to over 1,800 varieties.7 The tradesmen's cards were issued from 23 states and almost 300 towns. As listed in the 1972 edition of "U. S. Civil War Store Cards,"8 there were 8,555 varieties listed. An additional 180 or so new varieties were added by Jon Harris from studies of the ANS collection and incorporated in the second edition of Fuld in 1975. Others have been published in the CWTS Journal over the years, and will be incorporated in a forthcoming third edition.
These tokens, mostly of the small cent size (a few were large cent size and some on two cent size flans) were commonly accepted as a means of exchange for the value, which was almost always one cent. It should be emphasized that merchants could make a tidy profit (in the preinflation days when a cent could actually buy something), as the copper value in them was only 23/100ths of a cent. They also were undoubtedly a source of great relief and convenience.
However, since they could not be redeemed in quantity for U. S. currency they became a problem that soon attracted the attention of the Federal government. Hetrich & Guttag stated that the Third Avenue Railroad of New York City requested Lindenmueller to redeem a large number of tokens, which they had accepted in the course of business, but this he laughingly refused to do so.9 The railroad had no recourse, and it is likely that incidents such as this forced the hand of the government. The outpouring of bronze cents and fractional currency were still not sufficient to suppress the Civil War cents then current. Finally, in 1864, an act of Congress for-bade any private individuals to issue any form of money. As far as one can ascertain the Federal government did not try to press counterfeiting charges against any of the die sinkers before 1864.10 Thus ended an era—one that has been slow to be recognized by numismatists.
In 1952, my father Melvin and myself contacted Scovill Mfg. Co. in Waterbury, CT, to see if they had any information on tokens issued by their firm in the nineteenth century. Fortunately, they had a retired employee, Edward H. Davis, who served as historian for them until his death in his late nineties in 1977. He was a member of the 1900 class at MIT and had a keen interest in Scovill's historical past, especially their buttons, tokens and medals. Several articles, mostly indexing series on Civil War Tokens were written jointly with Davis and published in the NSM in the early 1950s.11 Davis also authored a most intriguing monograph about the Lafayette button of 1824.12
Although a good deal of early Scovill records were destroyed by two serious fires in the 1830's and one in February 1881, Davis indicated that many of the remaining records were stored at Waterbury, and others given to the Library of Congress.13 If memory serves, Walter Breen and the writer attempted to view the documents at the Library, but were told they were unavailable. Recent inquiries by our convener, Richard Doty, elicited the location of 400 volumes of Scovill data that were initially at Yale and now at the Harvard Business School's Baker Library in Boston. When a 65-page summary index was obtained in the summer of 1994, there were almost a dozen volumes of various records of the 1860-65 period. A trip to the library, with the aid of their research archivist, Laura Linard, resulted in volumes of decayed leather dust but little hard evidence.
The "Day Books" in the Scovill collection, Volumes 7, 8, and 9, recorded all the day by day invoicing of various merchandise from the Waterbury plant.14 This included such diverse products as sabres, cannon, eagles and eagle plates, reflectors, rivets, bugles and trumpets, but for further processing included brass (soft, scrap, oval wire and coarse), German silver, lead, silver, spring scrap and sheet plate but no specific references to tokens or medals in the period examined (over 1,000 pages).
One of the few direct numismatic entries stated that 300 copper blanks were sold to J. Bolen of Worcester on May 5,1864 (COD basis), at 5 cents apiece.15 Direct evidence exists that Scovill made many of the tokens. We found about eight different completely unknown mulings of Civil War tokens, well struck and uncirculated, from the tool box of the noted engraver Jarvis E. Ellis at the factory. The mules include the following (all patriotics), Fuld nos. 174/233, 174/189, 189/231, and 231/399.16 There were several store card mules, listed in the store card book, but a diligent search would be required to recall them. This list is only partially complete, but the existence and background of these unique mules has not been previously published. The mules made no logical sense, no duplicates have ever been found, and they are retained as part of the historical records of Scovill. When we examined all the retained examples of Scovill over the course of several years, it is obvious that a large number of pieces, including some English medals and tokens, were competitive samples accumulated for comparison. Somehow, the records of these Scovill issues are not noted in the Day Books we examined, and we did not feel comfortable assuming that they called them buttons as a disguise. We examined what few letters were available (especially in 1828-30 period) but found no further record of tokens. I remember that Davis found a record of the Gasquet, Parish token of New Orleans and mintage at one time, we but could not locate this in the Harvard holding.17
A number of company names, some competitors, appear repeatedly in the Day Book records:Rogers & Bros. 7 pds silver H.C. Matthews repeated purchase of scales and parts Samuel Peck brass [later partnership with Scovill for Daguerreotype manufacturing] James C. Hand/Russell & Erwin Mfg. Co. buttons L. Hosmer & Co., Boston distributor for N. Y. Store Benedict & Burnham 5,000 sets of "wreath" Gibbud & Bros. encasings [made two sided brass shells] N.B. Chamberlain & Sons, Boston brass items
The evidence of the dies that remained at Scovill in the early 1950s must be considered. Davis thought that most were useless historically, the majority thought to be late issues. In the early 1970s, Bruce Bazelon of the Pennsylvania Historical Society helped to distribute the dies.18 Items from as early as 1840 were found. Because of the Fulds' special interest, E.H. Davis tried to find Civil War token dies among the remainders. A single die was found, which matches Fuld patriotic die no. 174, a relatively common patriotic piece which circulated in the New York City area. This was a massive die, round in shape, measuring nearly 3" in diameter and 4" high. The top was a 1" square hub for attachment to the coining press, and the die was engraved on the flat bottom surface—no collar was evident. We did make several strikings (or splashers) from the die in lead and gold. Unfortunately the die disappeared in the early 1960s, after a coin exhibition. I recall seeing a die trial of the 174 die in lead with no date, but am not aware where it reposes (see Fuld 174/Inc). This "lost-again" die was presented to the Fulds with company management permission about 1953. It did show some discoloration from a fire, but the surfaces were intact.
1.Fuld Alabama 425A-10a. Undoubtedly a slightly non-contemporary issue from Huntsville, intended as a sutler issue.
2.Fuld Connecticut 600A-1a. Extremely rare medical issue from Wilamantic showing an apocryphal portrait of Lincoln.
5. Fuld Kentucky 510A-9fo (enlarged). A. Weber issue from Louisville struck over a liberty seated dime.
6. Fuld Maryland 60A-1b. A rare Maryland card with contemporary reverse die (by Kochler), probably issued about 1880.
7. Fuld Massachusetts 115E-1a. Popular Boston issue showing dog and inscription "Good for One Scent."
11. Fuld Pennsylvania 525A-1e. Coin dealer Zahm dated 1861 with Franklin head. In white metal silvered.
12. Fuld Tennessee 690B-4e; 690C-1a; 690E-4e. Three rare related merchant issues (probably sutlers) of Nashville, possibly non-contemporary.
The literature on Civil War tokens up to the epic publication of Hetrich and Guttag in 1924 is interesting, but quite spotty. The first publication noted was by Pliney E. Chase in the Journal of the American Philosophical Society in 1863.19 It listed several hundred pieces but with no detail. In an irregular serial listing in AJN from 1866 to 1869, an anonymous listing of "Copperheads" appeared.20 This series might have been authored by Edward Groh or J.N.T. Levick. Some years later, another anonymous listing of "Civil War Tokens" appeared in Scott's Coin Collector's Journal in 1882 and 1883.21 Then in 1916, Edgar H. Adams published one in his Coin and Medal Bulletin.22 This appeared from April 1916 through March 1917 when the journal was discontinued. The Adams listing was fully illustrated and the plates and text were the initial basis for Hetrich and Guttag. In addition, there were a number of fine articles, mostly on single merchants, in The Numismatist from 1912 to 1920, mostly by Edgar Adams and Waldo C. Moore. Publication activity on Civil War tokens ceased for the most part when Hetrich and Guttag's opus appeared in 1924.23 This was a complete listing (at that time) of all Civil War patriotic and store cards known.
Serious written research began again 20 years later when the next major contribution to the literature as a series was a group of articles by Joseph Barnett in the 1943 and 1944 issues of The Numismatist, concluding in the 1945 Numismatic Review,24 Barnett completely revised both the patriotic and store card series adding about 1,000 new varieties and correcting listings of about 200 pieces in an erratum. Little additional information about Civil War tokens as a whole was published until 1959 with the appearance of the Fuld publications.25
Various specialized books or articles allude to Civil War tokens; there are also some articles on single issuers, many of which were first listed in these specialized publication. These include W.S. Baker (1885);26 Howard Kurth in 1941;27 and a controversial article by Max Schwartz in 1943 on the Stoner & Shroyer tokens;28 J. Doyle DeWitt (1959);29 Melvin and George Fuld (1952 through 1956);30 Raymond Haggenjos (1949 and 1958);31 Robert P. King (1924, 1928 and 1933);32 W.T.R. Marvin (1880);33 and Douglas Watson (1968).34
It is important to emphasize the complete involvement of the Civil War Token Society (CWTS) in the furtherance of Civil War token knowledge. Starting in 1967, the CWTS Journal has continually published articles by various authors, especially in regard to detailed information on an individual issuer, complete with biographical backgrounds. This paper will not detail these listings, but refer the reader to the ten year indexes for the Journal. The CWTS has also published new varieties, errata and corrections to the fourth edition of the Patriotic book in a soft cover casing. Also included in the fourth edition were "Die-a-grams" by Jack Detwiler used for simple identification of dies (first published in the CWTS Journal), and articles on the study of metal compositions of many of the tokens.
Dr. Larkin Wilson has pioneered the study of the composition of off-metal varieties of the Civil War tokens, mostly published in the CWTS Journal.35 It is interesting to realize that although Copper was the main token fabric, brass was used for many issues (with no copper intended), mainly in the Albany and Troy New York City area. In a paper presented to the 1985 ANA convention, Dr. Wilson summarized all the readily obtainable characteristics of the various planchet types of Civil War tokens.36 There are listed 13 (2 types occur only on storecards) different metal types, excluding struck overtypes as shown in Table 1. The various "simple" characteristics readily obtainable (see Table 2) are diameter and thickness (mm), weight (g), ping or ring characteristic, color (most useful on uncirculated specimens), touchstone procedure, magnetism, and the slightly more difficult specific gravity requiring a scale with at least two-place accuracy and a method to weigh in water. Electron microprobe analysis has been run on a number of specimens, but this does have a moderate cost at an independent testing laboratory (university connections might have this done at no cost).37 The amount of data assembled by the Wilson project is voluminous. the following is a summary of one of the more interesting results. The New York City area used a material previously called "lead"—however X-ray microprobe studies show that the bluish types with an oxide layer are mainly lead with a specific gravity of 10.0-11.0, while the dark black pieces are mostly zinc with a specific gravity of 7.0-7.3. These "lead" pieces circulated almost exclusively in New York City. A number of issues are known struck over U.S. copper-nickel (C-N) cents, and on rare occasions over U.S. liberty seated dimes (as well as sometimes over quarters and some English silver).
The perplexing part of the off-metal enigma is that a simple assumption that these were restruck later for collectors is not valid.
|1. Planchet Characteristics|
|B. Color:||Comparative Standards|
|2. Nondestructive Tests|
|B. Specific Gravity|
|D. Ping Test|
|E. Magnet Attraction|
|F. X-Ray Spectroscopy|
|G. X-Ray Diffractometry|
|H. Electron Microprobe|
Many issues are known in early die states in the various off-metals. (Did the private collectors contract to have off-metals struck at the very beginning of the issue?) With the large collector base of Civil War tokens today, maybe the time has come to make a concerted study of the issue order of the off-metal varieties. At present, all off-metal varieties are collected as fully contemporary (with a few obvious exceptions). Exceptions for instance, are the use of a Civil War die with merchants or addresses only valid after 1865 for the other side.
It has now been almost 50 years since I att