Last week I illustrated a 5-cent-coin-size aluminum token from
Williamstown, Vt., issued by Miss M.J. Drury, repeated here now. The
token’s story revolves around Alexander Kennedy Miller.
In the late 1940s, after retiring from the Air Force, Miller with
his wife, Imogene, moved to a farm in East Orange, Vt. It was a rustic
old place without central heating and with limited electricity.
The couple was viewed as eccentric. In the 1970s, they drove
dilapidated Volkswagen Beetles, and when one stopped running, it was
left to rust in the yard and another was bought. Neighbors felt sorry
for them and offered charity. Miller died in 1993, and his wife in 1996.
After their deaths, the property was checked, and it was revealed
that some years earlier, Miller had inherited the family fortune.
Hidden from view were 30 classic Stutz motorcars, plus other “dream”
automobiles; about a million dollars in gold bullion; $900,000 in
stock certificates; tens of thousands of dollars in silver coins; and
a bundle of $1,000 bills! And 47 little aluminum tokens, all identical
and all bearing an inscription including the name miss m.j. drury.
Dave Sundman of Littleton Coin Co. was offered the numismatic
coins and tokens, and purchased them.
Dave contacted several token specialists about the Drury piece. It
was determined that the tokens were probably issued about 1910 and
were previously unknown to numismatists. Excitement prevailed! Russ
Rulau, busy at work on the next edition of his Standard Catalog of
U.S. Tokens 1700-1900, stated that the Drury piece was the only
such antique token with the word miss on it — out of tens of thousands
of “good for” pieces. Beyond that, Vermont “good for” tokens are
scarcer than are those from any other state.
Investigation identified Millie J. Drury as the owner of a fancy
goods store in Williamstown at one time, also a lunchroom, and bakery.
She was also interested in local history, and at the dedication of the
Williamstown Public Library on Dec. 6, 1911, was a speaker.
Rulau was so impressed that he listed this 1910 token in his book
that otherwise stopped at the year 1900. Littleton Coin offered them
for sale at $95 each and all were sold quickly — except one that Dave
gave to me as a gift.
The point of this is that a $95 token, scarcely worthy of notice
in a marketplace filled with thousand-dollar coins, is to me a little
treasure on its own, perhaps worth no more than the $95 Littleton
offered them for — but what a story! Would you pay $95 for one?
Q. David Bowers is chairman emeritus of Stack’s Bowers Galleries
and numismatic director of Whitman Publishing LLC. He can be reached
at his private e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org,
or at Q. David Bowers, LLC, Box 1804, Wolfeboro, NH 03894.