Author Topic: Civil War fantasies  (Read 105 times)

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Offline brandm24

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Civil War fantasies
« on: January 10, 2021, 12:10:56 PM »
Here's two really interesting Civil War fantasy tokens I just came across. Steve Hayden offered them on eBay but knows very little about them, except they were probably struck c1950. I've contacted him by email to see if he can shed more light on them but haven't heard back yet. He's one of the premier CWT experts in the country, so if hedoesn't know any more about them probably nobody does. He noted that they were ex: Thoms, but I don't know of a collector with that name.

In any case, these are odd attempts at faking Civil War tokens as no legitimate pieces come close to looking like these. There's no ten cent denomination as all generally had an implied value of 1 cent. Makers were hesitant to put a value on their tokens in an attempt to avoid federal coinage laws of the time. That's where the "Not One Cent" pieces come into play. Some were near perfect imitations of the Indian Head Cents currently in circulation so this was their disclaimer. Despite this they were accepted as having a value of 1 cent.

Along with the two denominations, there's an actual die trial of the 10 cent piece. It has the initials T.S. on the edge of the brass planchet. It's likely the initials of the maker, but it's not much to go on while researching them. A really interesting set of fantasies.

Bruce
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: Civil War fantasies
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2021, 10:52:08 AM »
The letters are irregular, plain (no serifs) and badly aligned on all three. I wonder if the dies (assuming the pieces were struck) were engraved by hand. It all seems like a lot of trouble for fantasies that no specialised collector would fall for. Someone with time on his hand and tools in the garage?

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

Offline brandm24

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Re: Civil War fantasies
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2021, 11:26:30 AM »
Bad fantasies for sure, but interesting for the questions they raise. I did receive an email from Steve Hayden about these and he has an interesting story to tell about them. It's a long one and haven't had a chance to read it over thoroughly, but will get back to you once I do.

These remind me a bit of Henry Higgins work on actual Civil War tokens. He was a marginally talented die sinker from Indiana who cut a series of dies known today as Indiana primitives. His work was rough and unsophisticated but appealing in an odd way. Higgins work was far superior to these though.

Bruce
« Last Edit: January 13, 2021, 02:40:18 PM by brandm24 »
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Offline brandm24

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Re: Civil War fantasies
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2021, 03:05:51 PM »
Hayden relayed this information to me about these fantasies.

The pieces, about 20 or so, belonged to Donald Thoms described by Hayden as "a crotchety old farmer, collector / hoarder from Paw Paw, Michigan." Thoms had a small number of genuine CWT's, mostly suttler pieces, but he seemed most proud of these 20. Apparently, he thought they were legitimate "unlisted" tokens.

Hayden knew about them for some time but had never seen them, so he arranged a meeting between hinself and Thoms at a Kalamazoo coin show in the early 1980's. Of course he knew immediately that they were fantasies, but didn't have the heart to tell him so. Thoms refused to sell them but allowed Hayden to photograph them for future research.

When Donald Thoms passed away in 2003 they came up for auction at his estate sale. Most of them were sold to a local collector. Hayden didn't bid because he had his eyes on other offerings and these were only of secondary interest to him. About 7 or 8 years later, about half of the tokens showed up at the MSNS's annual Thanksgiving show. This time he bought them without hesitation.

After owning them for a decade and not discovering anything of their origin, it was decided to sell them. All are patriotic tokens with the exception of a single store card issued by a supposed grocer named Klotz from South Bend, Indiana. Steve thought this one was unusual because care was taken to get the name right. An umlaut was added to the O in the name for the proper German pronunciation. Rarely if ever seen on an American token.

I'm in the process of researching this series but don't have much to go on.

Bruce
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Offline brandm24

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Re: Civil War fantasies
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2021, 03:07:55 PM »
Here's another example posted today. Note how badly the date is formed.

Bruce
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: Civil War fantasies
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2021, 11:19:35 PM »
I am normally not a proponent of fantasy numismatic items, but I'll make an exception for this series. These items are even more naive than the emperor Norton notes.

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

Offline brandm24

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Re: Civil War fantasies
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2021, 12:40:03 AM »
 Emperor Norton and Donald Thoms...peas in a pod?

Right now I'm looking for a possible person named Klotz who did business in South Bend. If there were such a person...doubtful...I might get a lead on who actually created them. Of course I don't think they're nearly Civil War era so maybe the only real area to research is Thoms himself. Not much on him so far.

Bruce
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