US Coins

Inside Coin World: Anti-slavery token has message

An 1838 abolitionist token offered not only a powerful message condemning slavery, it also promoted the concept of equal rights for women.

Original images provided by Michael Bugeja.

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1830s anti-slavery token’s powerful message

An 1838 abolitionist token bearing the message “Am I not a Woman and a Sister?” offers a powerful message. As Michael Bugeja writes in his “Home Hobbyist” column in the July 30, 2018, issue of Coin World, “The depiction of the woman was meant to evoke pity, and in doing so, may be justly criticized by today’s equity standards. At the time, though, the abolitionist intent was not to objectify her but to pierce the conscience in years leading up to the Civil War.”

He adds, “The token, commissioned by the American Anti-Slavery Society, not only was meant to end slavery but also to foster equal rights for women.” He also writes that the origin of the token “tracks back to 1830, when Elizabeth Margaret Chandler, an editor at the antislavery newspaper The Genius of Universal Emancipation, received a depiction of a kneeling woman with the motto ‘Am I not a sister and a woman?’” The image inspired her to write a poem that inspired the token as well.

Seeking something new to collect

In his “Designs of the Times” column, Brad Karoleff generally writes about the early Bust coinage of the United States. His July 30 column, however, focuses on coins that are several thousand years older than the coins of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. “I recently decided to collect another rather small but significant set of coins: those mentioned in the Bible,” he writes.

He discusses five coins, all mentioned in the Bible, though as he points out, the identifications of some pieces are based on numismatists’ best guesses. To learn what five coins he collected, read Brad’s column in the July 30 print and digital editions.

A numismatist’s visit to the ANA Summer Seminar

In a contribution to the “Guest Commentary” column, Richard Jozefiak writes about his recent weeklong attendance at the American Numismatic Association Summer Seminar in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he took the course “Numismatic Publishing: A Practical Course on Writing about Coins.” The course was, he said, the highlight of his numismatic year.

“The instructors and class members had a great synergy that contributed to the success and fun of the class,” he writes, adding more generally, “Summer Seminar is more than a numismatic class; it is a place to have fun, fellowship, and learning with other ANA members in and out of class.” Read why he believes collectors should attend the annual Summer Seminar themselves in his column, found only in Coin World’s print and digital editions.

Grading ‘solution’ in 1949 not a real solution

Q. David Bowers writes about the 1949 book Early American Cents by William H. Sheldon, which not only offered a detailed description of every known die marriage for the cents of 1793 to 1814, but also offered Sheldon’s scheme for grading and pricing the old copper large cents. After each coin was given a basal value, Sheldon provided a calculation for grading and pricing.

“Sheldon determined that a Fine 12 coin was worth three times as much as one grading Good 4, that an EF-40 coin was worth twice as much as a VF-20 coin, and so on. Based on his theory, an MS-60 coin was worth three times as much as a coin grading VF-20.” Sheldon’s solution was flawed from the start, since real-world pricing did not follow his calculations. Nonetheless, Sheldon’s grading system was the source for today’s 1 to 70 grading scale.

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