Morgan L. “Blunt” Marshall’s antebellum store card has been a
favorite of mine for many years.
Marshall operated a general store in central New York state, dealt
in coins and was an avid outdoorsman. He was a member of the New York
National Guard, and actively involved in recruiting during the Civil
War. He served several terms as town alderman.
His net worth in the 1860 census was stated at $4,000. In the fall
of 1860, Marshall sold the coin collection of future American
Numismatic Association Secretary George Rice’s father. The war years
were good to this manufacturer of fly-fishing rods. In 1870, his net
worth had risen to $14,000.
By then he had retired as a “merchant of fishing tackle.” Marshall
then went into local Democratic Party politics, and sold his business
in 1878. He died in 1883.
I became acquainted with Marshall’s exonumia while a high-school
student. I became enamored with Civil War tokens during the
sesquicentennial of 1961 to 1965. The Fulds, George and Melvin, listed
Marshall as New York store card issuer NY695 in their 1962 pioneering
work, A Guide to Civil War Store Card Tokens. As I was born and reared
in upstate New York, store cards of my area quickly became my
interest. Marshall’s inexpensive pictorial token in copper (Fuld NY
695A-2a) was one of my first acquisitions.
I thought it a real coup. Dated 1863, the cent-sized token
depicted a fish and advertised his store located in Oswego, N.Y. This
Lake Ontario community was only 40 miles from my home in North
Syracuse! And my grandparents had a camp in Oswego County where I
spent summers fishing.
Fast-forward a decade, and I acquired Marshall’s pre-Civil War,
1860, larger (29-millimeter) store card from “Collectors’
Clearinghouse” Editor Jim Johnson for $5.
This token actually depicted a fisherman with a fly rod and reel,
in a lovely circular vignette, while advertising his endeavors.
What was even more interesting to me was that my century-old store
card was in unimprovable prooflike condition, and in white metal, a
soft composition of lead and tin favored by 19th century medalists
because it struck up so exquisitely. I later learned that Marshall
donated copper, brass, and white metal examples of his 1860 store card
to the New York State Library in Albany in 1861.
Donald Miller listed my store card as NY1010 in his A Catalogue of
U.S. Store Cards or Merchant Tokens. When dealer Joe Levine sold my
piece in a 2003 auction, it brought $66.
Fred L. Reed iii has been a collector and writer for many years.
Reach him at www.fredwritesright.com.