I purchased this token in Florida. It is copper, has a diameter of
19 millimeters and weighs 2.63 grams. Can you give me some information
Coin World’s “Readers Ask” does not authenticate
numismatic items. Ultimately, the piece in question will need to be
examined by a specialist to determine if it is genuine. However,
“Readers Ask” can provide some background information on similar pieces.
The item in question appears to be a “game counter” or “play
money,” similar to a type originally produced in the 1860s.
The pieces were minted by Ludwig Christian Lauer of Nuremberg, Germany.
According to Medallic Portraits of Washington by Russell
Rulau and George Fuld, the portrait of George Washington on the
obverse of the counter was “taken from a print by Giuseppe Longhi, the
Italian engraver, executed in 1817 from his own sketch — a combination
of the [John] Trumball and [Gilbert] Stuart heads — through an
extremely close copy engraved by G.G. Felsing in 1824, while a student
The Rulau/Fuld book states that Lauer produced two basic
types of counter obverses bearing the Washington bust design: On the
Type I obverse, Washington’s bust is “not truncated, but extends to
the border [of the counter].” On the Type II style, Washington’s bust
is truncated and does not reach the border of the counter.
If Mr. Snavely’s piece is authentic, his would be Type I.
In addition to the two types, these pieces have different
compositions, edges, reverses and diameters — all resulting in varying
degrees of rarity, ranging from Rarity 1 (common) to R-9 (two to four
Some Type I counters have a copper composition, in addition to
brass and gilt bronze.
The 19-millimeter diameter of the piece in question also falls
within the specifications for the Type I pieces.
The Latin legend on the reverse, IN UNITATE FORTITUDO, translates
to “strength in unity.” Some counters feature the legend SPIELMARKE or
SPIEL MARKE (“game counter”) on the reverse. Mr. Snavely’s piece says
SPIEL MÜNZE (“play coin” or “play money”). Both legends are used on
Type I pieces.
The eagle on the reverse of some Type I pieces has a shield
covering its breast, while some do not; Mr. Snavely’s piece does not
feature a shield.
His piece also appears to show evidence of die breaks, especially
on the reverse, that may aid an expert in determining the
classification and rarity of this piece.
Coin World’s Readers Ask department does not accept coins
or other items for examination without prior permission from staff
member Erik Martin. Readers Ask also does not examine error or variety
coins. Materials sent to Readers Ask without prior permission will be
returned unexamined. Please address all Readers Ask inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org or call
800-673-8311, Ext. 274.