US Coins

Inside Coin World: Token with a macabre scene

Confederate President Jefferson Davis is depicted on this Civil War token that called for his execution as a traitor.

Original images courtesy of Eagle Eye Rare Coins and Library of Congress.

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Civil War token has a macabre scene

The American Civil War pitted North against South, free states against slave states, brother against brother. It was also a fruitful time for numismatists, with thousands of different tokens issued after coinage was hoarded by a fearful populace.

In his “Tokens to Collect” column, Paul Gilkes writes that tokens issued in the North included patriotic issues with themes to match, including one that offered a stark warning for the man leading the Confederate States of America — Jefferson Davis.

The obverse of the token features an image of Davis hanging from a gallows. The reverse states simply what many in the North thought of Davis — DEATH TO TRAITORS. The token was issued in several metals and is popular with collectors today.

Read more in Paul’s column, found only in the print and digital editions of the Oct. 22 issue of Coin World.

Collect something different: notgeld

Wendell Wolka writes in his “Collecting Paper” column, “Along with many other numismatic areas, paper money has quietly become more expensive to collect and has priced a significant number of collectors out of the market.”

However, one area of paper money remains inexpensive to collect (and fun) — notgeld.

Notgeld includes the many “small-denomination necessity notes issued in a number of different countries around the world, usually during times of conflict or financial uncertainty, after coins have disappeared from circulation due to hoarding or metal being transferred to more strategic uses such as weapons manufacture,” Wendell writes.

While the first issues were necessity notes, collectors began collecting them and printers obliged by issuing many different pieces, many colorful and with fascinating designs. Learn more about these notes in Wendell’s column in Coin World.

Superclashes point to press problems

In his “Collectors’ Clearinghouse” column, Mike Diamond writes about a specific category of clashed dies called “superclashes.” Dies clash, or collide, “when a planchet fails to be fed into the striking chamber, while, at the same time, minimum die clearance has dropped to zero,” Mike writes. The collisions leave clash marks, or impressions of one die transferred to the other die.

In some extreme cases, a superclash can occur, leaving especially heavy clash marks, even on coins that are thicker than most. “These rare events result in full reciprocal design transfer between the two dies,” Mike writes.

To learn more about superclashes and to see several examples, read his column exclusive to the Oct. 22 issue of Coin World.

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