US Coins

MS-63 Atwood’s Railroad Hotel Hard Times token

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 second of three tokens we focus on in Stack’s Bowers’ recent offering from the Bowers Collection:

The Lot:

Undated (1835 to 1838) Atwood’s Railroad Hotel Hard Times token, HT-221, MS-63 brown

The Price:


The Story:

Both sides of this undated (1835 to 1838) token from New York City’s Atwood’s Railroad Hotel are charming. The obverse depicts George Washington on horseback and the reverse reads CARRY ME TO ATWOOD’S RAILROAD HOTEL 243 BOWERY AND MY FACE IS GOOD FOR 3 CENTS. Most examples of the token classified as HT-221 are well-worn, so the Numismatic Guaranty Corp. Mint State 63 brown example from the Bowers Collection is unusual.

When the Morgan dollar was a half dollar”There was a time when the Morgan dollar was actually a half dollar: Another column in the July 31 issue of Coin World explains how collectors can create their own archival-quality holders for oversized paper money.

Similar to the aforementioned Franklin token, the Washington subject brings added interest from both Washington and presidential collectors. Rulau’s research dated the token to 1835 to 1838, placing it within the Hard Times token series. The manufacturer of the token— Bale & Smith (the firm’s name is placed under the obverse horse) — also used the obverse for their own token. The subject token, once part of the collections of F.C.C. Boyd and John J. Ford Jr., sold for $3,877.50.

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