US Coins

North West Company Token sells for $3,600

A coin with a hole is usually called a problem coin, but all holes are not created equal. Some numismatic issues have inherent holes (think of a coin struck on a washer-shaped planchet) while others are always found holed because a hole was required to suspend the item, consistent with its original function. Other holes are considered damage and, with few exceptions, these holes always lower the value of a coin.

Several “holey” coins that sold at Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ Nov. 10, 2017, Session 7 auction held during the Whitman Baltimore Expo showcase the different effects holes have on the desirability and price of an item.

Here is one of them:

The Lot:

1820 North West Company Token, Brass, With Hole, Extremely Fine Details, Corrosion

The Price:

$3,600

The Story:

From the Q. David Bowers Collection came a brass 1820 North West Company token graded Extremely Fine Details, Corrosion by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. NGC does not even note the presence of the hole on its slab insert, since this issue is virtually always found with a hole at the top of the obverse. In fact, the “Red Book” states that all but two known examples are holed. The tokens, holed or not, were probably valued at one beaver skin.

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The auction description explains, “Most survivors of this rare issue are ground finds, many of them from the ‘Umpqua River Hoard’ which hit the market in the late 1970s,” concluding, “No other numismatic issue relates better to the history of the fur trade in the modern Pacific Northwest.”


Freedom and Liberty dominate the 19th century”During the 19th century, Freedom and Liberty often took center stage on American money. Also inside this issue, we look at a long-running series of auction catalogs that set a high standard for competitors.


This example shows corrosion from its time in the ground, though the cataloger writes that it was undoubtedly Mint State when it was buried. The historic token sold for $3,600. 


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