Author Topic: Some patriotic Civil War tokens  (Read 948 times)

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Offline bgriff99

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Some patriotic Civil War tokens
« on: February 26, 2015, 10:23:51 AM »
Issued usually in copper or cheap bronze when the US cents were cupro-nickel.   To fill the need caused by hoarding of all coins even cents.   "Patriotic" tokens are those not for advertising, and therefore anonymous.   In 1864 companies in New York City, such as newspapers and street railways which had accepted them, tried to remit them, the ones with issuers' names or which could be tracked down.   They wouldn't take them!   The government responded by making them illegal to use as money.   Also changed the cents to bronze and made then thinner, the same dimensions as today.

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Some patriotic Civil War tokens
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2015, 01:46:35 PM »
Not being an admirer of nationalism or militarism, I like the advertising pieces better, but I must admit these are really very nice and I appreciate the political angle of some of them. My favourite is the "Millions for contractors / not one cent for the widows" piece. It is the perfect political counterpart for the "Millions for defense / not one cent for tribute" token.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline Jjmartin220

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Re: Some patriotic Civil War tokens
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2020, 11:14:52 PM »
Those are some great civil war tokens.  I've attached a photo of one of mine that I'm fond of.  Do you know of any websites that I could use to get an idea of how these are graded and the approximate value?

Offline bgriff99

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Re: Some patriotic Civil War tokens
« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2020, 12:24:01 AM »
This website is a start.   The 1965 catalog by George and Melvin Fuld is still adequate.   This is their obverse 6, reverse 268, common (R-1 on a 1 to 10 scale).    Grading is as any US coins.   This is in the range of $10.    Although sometimes my idea of prices is outdated.   I would have plunked down $4.50 for it at a show, when I was sort of collecting them, in the previous century.   

A vast assortment of minor varieties of this obverse were made.   You could begin to describe it as.... small date, 5-pointed stars, 6 stars in headband, hair off neck, lowest hair curl points to 3 of date, second curl points to last star, numeral 1 in date not I.       

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Some patriotic Civil War tokens
« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2020, 11:10:21 AM »
Thanks largely to the other Bruce (brandm24), I am slowly getting a handle on US token makers. They were a tad rougher than their European counterparts, it seems, though more sedentary than the Afghan and Iranian itinerant die cutters. They freely used older punches and dies (not necessarily their own), like the Nürnberg counter makers, but unlike them could switch jobs easily and without marrying into the right family. Speed of delivery was an issue for them, like the British cheap medal makers and unlike the makers of the high-quality Napoleonic medals.

John's nicely preserved token shows some of these characteristics. Somewhat surprisingly, the 3 in the date is slightly mis-aligned. At this time, mints would routinely produce dies with three or two figures only in the date, punching in the missing numbers only when the die was called for. The misaligned 3 is a sign of a pro making the die and a lesser mortal finishing it.

On the reverse, several letters are misaligned, notably the I in UNION and the R in EVER. The O in FOR is lightly tilting. However, you have to love the V in EVER. It came from a differently sized letter set! Improvisation 101. The letters were punched in a hurry into a neat die with the accomplished wreath. The buyer may have specified the slogan.

What you see here is an artistic pro coming up with mother dies with great, even deceptive variants on regular coins. Small metal-working merchants turned the mothers into working dies and harried sweatshops finished the dies and made the tokens for customers in a hurry. The may have been in one enterprise or in two or even three different undertakings.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Online brandm24

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Re: Some patriotic Civil War tokens
« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2020, 12:22:53 PM »
Both die 6 and 268 were cut by New York City engraver and die sinker Frederick B. Smith. Smith is credited with cutting at least 21 different Civil War token dies. While he only initialed two of those with an "S" (136 and 137), the others have been attributed to him by links to a Civil War dog tag signed by him and the unique characteristics found on 136 / 137.

 The sloppiness of his work, noted by Peter, is common with this man. Smith was a classically trained engraver and studied under masters like Charles Cushing Wright and James Bale (Wright & Bale). George Fuld opined that Smith, a medalist at heart, probably thought CWT die work wasn't worthy of his skill. As a result, the workmanship on these pieces was "indifferent" and "hurried"The designs were simple and repetitive and the dies were used well past their normal working life. There are no known re-strikes for this very reason.

Bruce
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Offline Jjmartin220

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Re: Some patriotic Civil War tokens
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2020, 02:39:30 PM »
Thanks for all of the feedback, gentlemen.  I just learned a LOT in a short period of time.  I really appreciate it.

John

Online brandm24

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Re: Some patriotic Civil War tokens
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2020, 01:09:12 PM »
The "Not One Cent" CWT is shown in the initial post, but I wanted to comment on "modifications" made to them. The "Not" was there to give the issuer an out if accused of counterfeiting or issuing a token that resembled a circulating coin too closely. Although in 1863 the "gubment" was looking the other way mostly because of the desperate need for small change, that all changed when The Coinage Act was passed in 1864. The act outlawed the minting or use of non-government issued coins. Overnight, Civil War tokens and other alternate forms of currency became illegal.

Some enterprising citizens though, maybe those stuck with large quantities of them, removed the word "Not" wnich made the outlawed currency look very similar to a legitimate circulating cent. In the image I've attached, you can still see remnants of the word, but only if looking closely.

There are also examples of Hard Times (1837-1844) tokens being modified in the same way. Most of those tokens were large copper pieces with a nominal "value" of one cent. Some resembled circulating large cents of the time and could be deceptive.

Bruce
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: Some patriotic Civil War tokens
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2020, 01:19:25 PM »
Which reminds me of a long-ago commercial policy incident. An enterprising Taiwanese was selling watches under the brand name Aseikon. The name figured behind the looking glass. So far no problem, until it was found that ASEIKON was actually printed on three successive adhesives, so that it was supremely easy to remove the first, with the A and the last, with the N. :D

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Online brandm24

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Re: Some patriotic Civil War tokens
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2020, 01:33:01 PM »
Too funny, Peter!  Not right but you have to chuckle over that one.

Bruce
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Online brandm24

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Re: Some patriotic Civil War tokens
« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2021, 01:29:11 PM »
This unusual Patriotic CWT stands out not for its uniqueness but for a small counterstamp added about the time it was struck. On the reverse between "Beware" and the figure of the copperhead snake is neatly applied the word "Victoria."

 This unique token was first brought to light in the Spring, 1970 issue of the Civil War Token Society journal and was described by author Benj Fauver as a political token. He opined that "Victoria" was a reference to the then British Queen Victoria. The purpose was to warn of the possibility of Britain entering the war on the side of the Confederacy.

Though it never happened, there was great fear in the Union that their intervention would make the war more difficult if not impossible to win. As it happened, Britain never recognized the Confederacy in any formal manner and didn't interfere "officially" as they wished to avoid war with the United States at all costs.

 Not to say that unofficial action by private citizens and companies was necessarily frowned upon. Warships for the Confederate navy were constructed in Liverpool, and British cannon, guns, ammunition and other materials of war made their way into Southern ports. It's been estimated that up to 50,000 British citizens actually aided the Southern war effort in some manner.

 This British intervention ended abruptly in January, 1863 when US Prsident Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation that effectively ended the institution of slavery in the United States. The British immediately condemned the southern rebellion as they couldn't be seen supporting the institution of slavery, something they'd outlawed thirty years earlier.

The original intent of the token was to warn against those who were labeled "copperheads." Copperheads. also known as Peace Democrats, were those who didn't support the war effort. There focus was on a negotiated peace. Many thought them to be traitors as their efforts hampered the prosecution of the war. There's little to support the allegations, but war fever was rampant in the north, at least in the government, and they were seen in that light. The Copperhead's influence was particularly strong in the midwesern states of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois but had no significant effect on the outcome of the conflict.

The token image is courtesy of Steve Hayden. The cartoon was published in Harper's Weekly magazine in February, 1863.

Bruce

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Offline FosseWay

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Re: Some patriotic Civil War tokens
« Reply #11 on: February 23, 2021, 09:55:07 PM »
It's been estimated that up to 50,000 British citizens actually aided the Southern war effort in some manner.

This British intervention ended abruptly in January, 1863 when US Prsident Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation that effectively ended the institution of slavery in the United States. The British immediately condemned the southern rebellion as they couldn't be seen supporting the institution of slavery, something they'd outlawed thirty years earlier.

One of those 50,000 was a relative of mine, a merchant in Liverpool, who certainly traded material useful to the war effort to the South and, if rumour was to be believed, also spied for the Confederacy (in what capacity or where, I don't know). He persisted with this behaviour after the Emancipation Proclamation, and was investigated by the British authorities. He suffered no consequences; I don't know whether this was because he was innocent, because they didn't have enough evidence, because he dropped someone a bung, or because the UK wanted to be seen to be anti-slavery while continuing to mess in US affairs, thereby letting him off the hook. Any of those is plausible.

As an aside, two of his sons decided they wanted to get away from it all (perhaps from their dad, who knows!) and set up a sheep station in the Falkland Islands, on the portion of East Falkland south of Goose Green that still bears their name: Lafonia (they were called Lafone).

Online brandm24

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Re: Some patriotic Civil War tokens
« Reply #12 on: February 24, 2021, 10:50:45 AM »
A great story, FosseWay, and a good example of an aspect of coin / token collecting that often isn't recognized. The many interesting bits of history, personal stories, and looks into the past that studying them affords us. For me, these things really are the driving force behind my interest in numismatics.

Thanks for the wonderful story. :)

Bruce
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