US Coins

Market Analysis: hand-engraved gaming token

Hand-engraving still serves a role in numismatics, particularly to personalize an item or make it fit a specific task. Alternately, artists can make engraved coins their own art form.

Gaming tokens are collected under a broad numismatic umbrella, serving as a medium of exchange and a store of value. Those associated with the “Old West” are especially popular such as a Robert E. Lee Steamship gambling chip made of celluloid or a similar material. Stack’s Bowers explained, “The Robert E. Lee was a side wheel steamer often called the ‘Monarch of the Mississippi.’ It was built in 1866 and plied the Mississippi River for a decade before being dismantled in 1876. This item is dated 1870, the year that the Robert E. Lee set the steamboat speed record of 3 days, 18 hours, 14 minutes between New Orleans and St. Louis, a record that has not been bettered to this day.”

The cataloger called it a “curious hand engraved disk,” grading it About Uncirculated. It sold for $3,600 on March 24.

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