US Coins

American Resourcefulness: Civil War tokens

If the year starts off with a bang each January with the Florida United Numismatists show and New York International Numismatic Convention, February is when things settle down, and coins — new and old — are absorbed in the marketplace.

In January, major grading services are busy grading hundreds of thousands of American Eagle silver bullion coins. Dealers are consumed with selling them. Auction houses are occupied with their FUN, NYINC and Long Beach Expo auctions.

At the various Heritage FUN auctions this year more than $90 million in coins traded hands. Millions more worth of world and ancient material crossed the block at NYINC and the results showed — more than ever — that there’s a fervent demand for top rarities across various categories including U.S. coins, world coins, ancient coins and paper money.

The momentum continues in February as the U.S. Mint releases more of its 2014 coins, Stack’s Bowers Galleries hosts its Americana Sale in New York City and Heritage hosts the official auction for the American Numismatic Association National Money Show in Atlanta, at the end of the month.

It can seem at the beginning of each year that commerce dominates Coin World’s coverage.

The trading of coins is just a part of our hobby. At its core is the rich history of coins and money.

In our cover feature this month, Q. David Bowers, a member of Coin World’s family of contributors for more than a generation, and Dennis Tucker, publisher at Whitman Publishing, share a window to the Civil War through its tokens.

Small change was scarce during the Civil War and merchants took matters into their own hands, issuing tokens as money.

Bowers and Tucker present a case study: the tokens of circus man “Yankee” Robinson who used these tokens as a form of promotion. Today, Civil War tokens are collectible and generally affordable reminders of American resourcefulness, with wonderful stories surrounding each one.


Steve Roach

COIN WORLD ... anywhere, anytime!

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