A unique portrait of Benjamin Franklin graces token
- Published: Jul 18, 2017, 6 AM
A June 21 auction by Stack’s Bowers Galleries at the recent June Whitman Coin and Collectibles Expo in Baltimore included a special collection of Hard Times tokens from the collection of hobby legend and Coin World columnist Q. David Bowers. Hard Times tokens include privately issued cent-sized pieces struck from around 1832 to 1844, and these are divided in two main groups: store cards, which were issued by merchants, and tokens with political messages. Bowers wrote a book in 2014, published by Whitman and titled The Encyclopedia of Hard Times Tokens — Political Tokens and Store Cards 1832–1844: A History and Price Guide to Types and Varieties, that serves as a solid introduction to this fascinating collecting area.
Here's the first of three tokens that Stack’s Bowers recently offered:
Undated (1829 to 1830) Wright & Bale, New York, Hard Times token, HT-340A, AU-55
An impressive portrait of Benjamin Franklin makes this undated (1829 to 1830) token issued by the firm of Wright & Bale a favorite with both Hard Times tokens and Frankliniania enthusiasts. Wright & Bale was a partnership between two engravers and the text on the reverse serves as a business card of sorts advertising their services. Wright was also a numismatist, interested in ancient coins, and as the catalog notes, “Given time and with modern Internet resources we will have to learn more about his participation in our hobby.”
Connect with Coin World:
Today Hard Times tokens are classified by HT numbers — based on Lyman H. Low’s 1899 reference to the series updated more recently by Russell Rulau across several editions of his book Hard Times Tokens. This HT-340A token, graded About Uncirculated 55 by the auctioneer, sold for $16,450. It was previously part of the collections of the Long Island Public Library and was deaccessioned.
MORE RELATED ARTICLES