Old tokens can be fascinating, one element being that a lot of
mystery is associated with many pieces.
Recently, I mentioned the tokens from dies made by Benjamin C.
True in 1860, with the obverse lettered THE WEALTH OF THE SOUTH, with
rice, tobacco, sugar and cotton pictured, and the reverse with NO
SUBMISSION TO THE NORTH, showing a cannon beneath a palmetto tree.
Struck by the shop of John Stanton in Cincinnati, these were
popular with Southern sympathizers at the time. The Civil War did not
commence until April 1861, and for a Northerner to sell
Southern-sentiment tokens in 1860 was not disloyal. Quite a few
Northerners sympathized with the South (and once war began, were
In the summer of 1860, the presidential election of Nov. 7 was in
the offing, and hopefuls in the North and South were well under way in
their planning by the spring. Meetings and finally the nominating
conventions were held. On May 18 Abraham Lincoln was chosen by the
Republican Party, besting Salmon P. Chase and William H. Seward. The
Democratic Party met in Charleston to pick a nominee, but confusion
and dissension reigned and many delegates bolted.
The result was that the Southern Democratic Party chose John C.
Breckinridge by default and the Northern Democratic Party proposed
Stephen A. Douglas. The recently formed Constitutional Union Party,
which hoped to hold the North and South together, fielded John Bell of Tennessee.
Seeking a sales opportunity, Stanton commissioned True to create a
series of 22-millimeter tokens depicting each candidate. The reverse
illustrated the White House, called “Presidents House.”
The following advertisement was placed in a Richmond newspaper on
Aug. 14, to run five times:
“Wanted — Agents to sell CAMPAIGN MEDALS. The likenesses of the
candidates for President are correct. The price of the Medals is $5
per hundred. Agents are now selling from 100 to 200 per day. A
specimen of either medal will be sent (by mail) upon receipt of the
retail price, 15 cents. Address John Stanton, Stamp and Brand Cutter,
139 Fifth Street, Cincinnati, Ohio, August 14.”
The reference to “either” is not clear as it implies two tokens,
not four. Perhaps either Bell or Breckinridge would have been chosen
for their Southern appeal. This advertisement was found by the late
Does anyone know of similar notices published elsewhere?
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.