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Question: I’ve heard rumors of a book on Civil War tokens coming out? Can you give me any updates? –R.K.
Answer: The rumors are true! It is titled A Guide Book of Civil War Tokens: Patriotic Tokens and Store Cards 1861-1865. This is a history and price guide to major types, with over 2,000 color illustrations(!) and comprising nearly 400 pages in length. As Whitman has production and distribution facilities second to none, the retail price of the book will probably be about one half to one third of what might otherwise be charged. In addition it will be printed on high quality paper and will be first class throughout. Stack’s Bowers Galleries will be making an announcement at the appropriate time, and it will be widely available elsewhere. The project was sent off to be printed recently, and I expect that within the next month there will be some announcements made. Watch for them!
The field of Civil War tokens has been of great interest to me for many years. Basically it is divided into two categories. The first, patriotics, cover pieces that mainly have subjects related to the Civil War, the American flag, historical figures and the like, often with patriotic mottos. The names of the issuers are not given. The second category is that of Civil War store cards -- bearing information as to a merchant, product or service, and, on the other side, a stock die such as an Indian head, an eagle, or something else. Nearly 1,000 different merchants issued these and all are eagerly collected today. Most of them were in the general area from Tennessee, West Virginia, and Maryland north to Massachusetts (none were issued in Vermont and there was only one issuer in each of New Hampshire and Maine), and westward to Iowa and Minnesota. The most prolific issuers were in Ohio, New York, Illinois, and Indiana.
Civil War tokens are fascinating to collect as each one has a story. In addition, great rarities can often be purchased for nominal prices. A store card for which fewer than a dozen are known can be bought for just a few hundred dollars in a grade such as Extremely Fine. The Civil War Token Society, information concerning which can be found on the Internet, serves as a meeting point for collectors and others interested. The Civil War Token Journal is published at regular intervals and contains interesting information, items for sale and more.