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A Tale of Three (Four) Token

By Frank Van Valen, Numismatist & Cataloger

Author: Frank Van Valen / Wednesday, January 06, 2016 / Categories: Exonumia Corner

A recent visit to my favorite internet bidding site revealed a group of three tokens, two of which I was very familiar with, and one I’d never seen before in my 50+ years of collecting. I immediately took advantage of the “Buy It Now” feature at the website and plunked down my $9.95, postage included, for the lot. After a few days the package arrived and, lo and behold, the good seller had included a fourth token as a “thank you.” Comprising two of the original three brass tokens advertised were an 1837 “To Hanover” Queen Victoria token, one of numerous varieties of the design type I’ve seen and owned over the years, and a 19th-century “In Memory of the Good Old Days” British sovereign look-alike dated “1768.” The “freebie” token was a 20th-century copy of the 19th-century “Good Old Days” token, smaller and thinner overall than the 19th-century piece. Those three tokens are now at rest on my tray at work with numerous other British tokens of the era.

But what was it that drew me to this otherwise common-as-dirt group of tokens? A small brass token, slightly larger in diameter than a half dime, is about as neat a token or jeton as I’ve ever encountered. One side features a representation of Christian Gobrecht’s famous Liberty Seated motif, while the other side shows a representation of William Barber’s trade dollar design of 1873-1883 (or 1885 if you insist). This nicely struck and meticulously accurate token is fully brilliant and highly lustrous, with deep olive-gold tones throughout. What its purpose was is unknown to me – perhaps a jeweler produced it to show off his or her talent. It is decidedly choice in quality so it never served as a game piece to my knowledge. Perhaps one day I’ll see another or get a lead as to its origin, but for now I’m just pleased as punch that this bright and lustrous little bit of exonumia is now a part of my collection!