US Coins

Collectors buy exonumia with Virgil Brand pedigree

Although it’s been 91 years since Chicago beer baron and numismatist Virgil M. Brand’s death, fresh numismatic items pedigreed to his extensive collection continue to surface in the marketplace.

Hundreds of U.S. and world tokens and medals once owned by the world-renowned business magnate and hobbyist were offered by Heritage Auctions in a Sept. 25 sale held in Dallas.

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Brand’s numismatic holdings included thousands of tokens and medals. Among those in the Sept. 25 offering were: a memorial medal depicting attorney and Civil War officer Albert Pike; an 1876 political token depicting Samuel J. Tilden; a U.S. Mint medal marking the centennial anniversary of the United States; an early 19th century merchant’s token from A.W. Hardie in New York; and a Hard Times token issued by Smith & Brothers in Philadelphia.

Brand — who climbed the ladder to become president of the United States Brewing Company and later the Brand Brewing Company — began collecting coins in his teens in 1879, amassing a collection that eventually totaled more than 350,000 items, including six examples of the 1884 Trade dollar, for which only 10 examples were recorded struck. Brand was an active member of the Chicago Numismatic Society.

Albert Pike medal

The 45-millimeter white metal Pike medal depicts on the obverse a portrait of Pike — a Boston attorney and 33rd degree Mason who served as a general for the Confederacy during the American Civil War.

The medal was described as being Uncirculated.

The reverse is inscribed with abbreviations denoting Pike’s legal, military and Masonic accomplishments, with Masonic heraldry on the reverse.

The medal realized $168, which includes the 20-percent buyer’s premium added to the closing hammer price.

Tilden political

Samuel Jones Tilden was the 25th governor of New York and the Democratic candidate for president in the disputed election of 1876 (he won the popular vote).

Tilden’s portrait is in a circular field at center of the offered satirical token’s obverse, with his first name, inscribed as SHAMMY in the field at left and surname at right.

Inscribed below is CIPHERED OUT and the dates 1876–78.

Inscribed around the outer border of the 31-millimeter white metal token is O MY OFFENCE IS RANK AND SMELLS TO HEAVEN.

Inscribed around the reverse is THE GREAT FRAUD and SHAMMY THE SHAMELESS.

Inscribed at the center is CHEATS / UNCLE SAM / ON HIS / INCOME / TAX with THE PEOPLE WILL NEVER CONDEMN IT around.

Graded and encapsulated Mint State 63 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., the token is attributed as Dewitt SJT-1876-7 as cataloged in Century of Campaign Buttons 1789 - 1889 by J. Doyle DeWitt.

The token realized $180.

American Centennial

The U.S. Mint medal in the Sept. 25 sale was struck in celebration of the 1876 Centennial of the United States and is cataloged as Julian CM-11d in Medals of the United States Mint: The First Century 1792-1892 by R.W. Julian. The medal was congressionally authorized in 1874.

The medal was described as being in Uncirculated condition.

The obverse of the medal, by U.S. Mint Chief Engraver William Barber, depicts Liberty placing wreaths atop the heads of Industry and Art. The reverse depicts a rising Liberty with unsheathed sword beneath 13 stars in a glory.

The example offered, at 57 millimeters in diameter, was struck in white metal. Upon issue, the medal was priced at $1 from the U.S. Mint. A total of 583 examples were struck in white metal.

The medal realized $104.

A.W. Hardie token

A circa 1826 to 1827 31-millimeter Hardie token was offered, attributed as Rulau NY E-295A in Standard Catalog of United States Tokens 1700-1900 by Russell Rulau.

Graded NGC AU-55, the brass token has a rarity rating of R-8, meaning fewer than six examples are known extant.

The obverse is inscribed EXCHANGE TAYLORING ESTABLISHMENT, with NAKED / AND YE / CLOTHED / ME at center.


The tokens are reported to have been struck in Birmingham, England, by Thomas Kettle.

The token realized $312.

Items including coins, tokens, medals and numismatic literature from Brand’s massive collection have been offered at auction by various firms for decades. The first auctions occurred in the early 1980s.

Smith & Brothers

The sale’s circa 1837 Hard Times token was issued in Philadelphia by Smith & Brothers, measures 27 millimeters in diameter and is composed of silvered brass.

Clifford and Cornelius Smith were hardware merchants.

Inscribed around the inside of the outer beaded border is the inscription IMPORTERS & DEALERS IN FOREIGN & DOMESTIC.

Inscribed in the center within a roped circle in three lines is HARDWARE / AND / CUTLERY with the AND inscribed on a saw blade.

The reverse is inscribed SMITH & BROTHERS around the outer border, while 188 appears on an anvil at center with MARKET and STREET above and below it, respectively.

Attributed as HT-417A in A Guide Book of Hard Times Tokens by Q. David Bowers, the token is graded About Uncirculated 55 by NGC.

The token realized $207.

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