One of the largely unsung prizes in early American numismatics is the circa 1670 NEW YORKE IN AMERICA token. This enigmatic token, known in brass and in pewter, is thought to have been issued by Francis Lovelace, who served as governor of New York from 1668 to 1673. The obverse design features a copse of trees at the center with a young Cupid to the viewer’s left of the trees and a butterfly-winged Psyche to the right of the trees, supposedly a rebus for Lovelace’s name. The reverse features an eagle on a crenellated bar with a star and flourish above and NEW YORKE IN AMERICA around.
Beginning with our November 2012 Baltimore sale, we have been pleased and honored to offer the Ted L. Craige Collection in several parts – the holdings are large enough and important enough to be spread out over several sales. By now, in early 2013, the collection of Ted Craige has yielded many rare prizes, most of which were purchased and obtained by the late Ted Craige several decades ago, indeed, in the infancy of what is now an enormous “club” of aficionados who specialize in the issues of early America and the pre-federal era.
The Craige NEW YORKE IN AMERICAtoken is readily among the finest examples extant of this rare prize, and is one of about 20 examples known in all grades. The present specimen of this enigmatic rarity was cataloged as follows in our upcoming March sale: “Most are downright ugly. This piece is a remarkable exception. Its surfaces are hard, nearly smooth, and somewhat glossy, with the obverse showing deep brassy tan fields and more golden devices, while the NEW YORKE IN AMERICA reverse is closer to honey brown with some traces of brassy gold. A bit of harmless encrustation is present around the legend; a few tiny specks on the obverse, none of which does anything more than suggest old originality. The sharpness surpasses every other example your cataloger has seen, either imaged or in hand, notably including the very nice Roper and Picker coins. A natural mint clip is present over OR of YORKE, and an old curved scratch is noted with the aid of magnification under N of NEW.”
The present brass NEW YORKE INAMERICA token, a decidedly Condition Census specimen, is from an unknown earlier provenance, though we have reason to believe it was one of two in the Virgil Brand holdings. As noted above, it is among the finest known, even with its rim clip and other small blemishes. Though the Craige Collection is filled with numerous colonial-era treasures -- some great, some small, but all important – we suspect the present rarity will be long remembered as one of the highlights of this important collection, perhaps the finest all-around offering of early American issues since our sales of the John J. Ford, Jr. Collection, 2003 to 2007. It will take bidding fortitude and strategy to win this rarity when it crosses the auction block on March 13, 2013 in Baltimore. Ted Craige valued this specimen at $3,000 in 1970, a lordly price then, but now only a small monetary starting point on the march to the ultimate hammer price of this rarity.