7 Issue 6
We trust that this issue of the Internet Edition will continue to provide interesting reading. The name of this Internet based newsletter is in keeping with the content so, bearing in mind our disclaimers, the Internet links selected are usually complimentary to the featured article in regard to: (1) illustrations and, (2) additional important information. Please also bear in mind that some Internet links are of a temporary nature.
Editor: Graeme E. Petterwood. (T.N.S. Member #332)
NORTHERN CHAPTER BBQ MEETING
In a reciprocal gesture for a similar event held in March, the Northern Chapter of the Tasmanian Numismatic Society invited those southern members who could attend, to a Meeting BBQ in Launceston at the Editor's residence on Saturday May 11th.
At the previous meeting in Hobart, it was decided that, to save catering problems, the event was to be mainly a BYO for T.N.S. members so everyone who could come would be catered for to their own capacity and taste.
Several guests and a few other potential members had also been invited - and the one thing we all had in common was a strong liking for our hobby of numismatics - and, obviously, a good feed!
Apologies were received from several other northern members who could not attend due to previous commitments.
The gathering was as informal as possible so that all the members and guests had as much time as possible to mingle and discuss their particular interests before sacrificing a few 'snags' (sausages - for the more refined), chicken breasts and some big juicy chunks of 'El Toro' on the BBQ. No one ended up hungry - and the conversations hardly missed a beat!
Everyone entered into the spirit of the discussions, and, as most guests had brought along a few special items, we had a variety of subjects to entertain us. (It was also very timely that the conversations drifted into the area of tokens, tags, medals and medallions, considering the content of this newsletter.)
During the course of the afternoon, several new Tasmanian Souvenir Token products and accessory items were displayed, and the possibility of a new volume of Roger McNeice's catalogue 'Tasmanian Commemorative Medals and Medallions' was discussed with the author who had driven up from Hobart.
The existing 'Tasmanian Commemorative Medals and Medallions - Volume 2', covers Tasmanian issues from 1853 - 1990 and Roger says he would like to produce a new listing to cover the time span from 1990 - 2003 which is the 150th Anniversary of the approval for the production of the Cessation of Transportation Medal - and to take the opportunity to add details of several other notable medallions that came to light after the original work was published. However, with his current commercial workload, Roger commented that it was not possible to even suggest an imminent starting date - but, he added that the idea is unquestionably on the backburner along with other literary projects he wants to commence or update. The probability of a convenient folder designed to house the Tasmanian Souvenir Token range produced by Tasmedals was also mooted over the pavlova, ice-cream and fruit salad.
The BBQ was enjoyed by all - as expected - and we were fortunate to also have very pleasant weather as a bonus.
Thanks are due to those who went out of their way to provide those little extras for dessert, with a special mention reserved for fellow Northern Chapter Committee Member, Debbie M. who provided the delicious 'pav' - and helped with everything she could to ease the 'workload' for our host and hostess. We would also like to thank our guest, Colleen B. who brought along a very nice iced banana cake that she had baked - and that went extremely well with the coffee and tea.
Thanks, Deb and Colleen, the effort - and goodies - were truly appreciated!
Our next BBQ Meeting will again be held at President Chris Heath's home on Sunday July 7th. and it will also be a BYO everything event as usual. Guests are welcome after 11.00a.m.
All T.N.S. members and invited associates should RSVP to Chris before July 1st. so he can arrange enough seats etc.
THE MYSTERY OF THE MISSING 'SD' INITIALS
The case of the missing 'SD' initials of designer Stuart Devlin on several dates of Australian 2 cent coins has drawn an email response from Tasmanian Numismatic Society associate member, Ian Hartshorn. The initials are usually located centrally between the right front claw and the left rear claw of the Frilled-neck Lizard depicted on the reverse of the coin.
The omissions were originally brought into our focus by Jerry Himelfarb of the U.S.A. in early February, 2001 and recently revisited by the Tasmanian Numismatist: http://www.vision.net.au/~pwood/May2002.htm
Hi there Graeme and Jerry, Sorry I can not help with more information about the missing SD 2c coins, I do have both 67 and 68 coins, plus a 1981. The attachment is a picture of the '81 taken by a digital microscope at 60 magnification. At this stage I intend keeping the coins. An article to be published in the C.A.B. magazine (June edition I've been told) maybe of interest, about the POSSIBLE Perth mint 2c from 1974 - 1984 Cheers Ian Hartshorn - T.N.S. Assoc. Member.
1981 2 Cent without designer Stuart Devlin's initials
provided by Ian Hartshorn).
During the past few months, I have been getting quite an amount of email asking about tokens from various parts of the world and this edition is no different with several more queries arriving through our Miscellaneous Q & A 's column. It is obvious that the popularity of this area of our hobby has been growing for some time, so it now deserves something more than a brief comment.
This issue will be mainly devoted to tokens in an effort to address some of the most commonly asked questions.
In Australia, many numismatists think of tokens in a fairly restricted sense and concentrate on the well-known and popular Tradesmen's tokens, the Communion, milk or bread tokens of yesteryear, the few Sydney Ferry or other transit tokens, test pieces, club tokens and passes. These Australian items do, in fact, still make a very impressive list and are rightly considered a challenge by any numismatist - but the international token collector realises that the list of possibilities is virtually endless.
It is so large and diverse an area of numismatics that it has its own group name - exonumia - and all the world is its stage.
Exonumia, both local and international, has often been discussed in this newsletter in its many different forms, including Notgeld produced from metal - as well as the more commonly available paper or paper-like materials - various commemorative medallions, passes and tags, as well as adapted and distorted or enclosed coinages etc. and I am sure that many of our long-time readers will have a very good idea of the types of reasons, materials and eventual purposes that tokens have evolved from and into.
This discussion is aimed, as encouragement, at those who want to make a start with tokens as their initial focal point - or those who are looking to take up an additional interest within the hobby.
The collection of tokens is usually not up in the 'high return on investment' aspect of our hobby, but it is another enjoyable facet for genuine collectors with an interest in the historical development of numismatics.
However, bear in mind that, whilst many tokens are cheap there are special items that demand a really well filled wallet - but, in the main, this is a part of numismatics that can be fairly said to be within the reach of most of us. As mentioned, it particularly appeals to those starting out, or those who are on a limited budget for areas outside of their main collecting interests.
The majority of the most basic brass, aluminium or plastic international transit tokens for example, in E.F. through to AU condition, can be picked up for a few cents each and there are not many that would cost over A$10.00 - compare that with the cost of an average Australian pre-decimal bronze coin in those grades.
However, the question that has arisen in my mind, of late, is that with the popularity of tokens starting to take off how long will it be before the price structure does the same? The early birds catch the worms!
It is also interesting to note that, at this time, long-time token collectors are not anywhere as fastidious as coin collectors when grading an item, but they do prefer a well preserved piece. Many U.S. tokens, for instance, are actually dug up or found in the most unlikely of places after having been discarded for years - they can be worn, tarnished, corroded or rusty - and it is also apparent that the usual coin collectors adage of 'Don't clean it' can be virtually ignored - within reason - in the effort to identify an issuer's name or any other relevant information.
The problem of accurate grading does not really exist in the same way as a coin collector would appreciate, but that may change as more numismatists take up the gauntlet of a new interest.
Identification, scarcity and history are the paramount factors that seasoned token collectors rally behind - eye appeal is important, of course, but it is some way down the track.
Like the Notgeld of the 1920's, the accumulation of tokens can be daunting - and occasionally frustrating - if it gets out of hand, so it is advisable to try and set some theme parameters - and to stick within them, within reason. The sheer diversity in old or new tokens means that these parameters may change slightly from time to time, but, that is what keeps the overall hobby of numismatics alive and well.
Many modern quality issues are now available in several bi-metallic combinations and these have produced another very popular collecting theme. (WBCC Website: http://wbcc-online.com)
Quite a lot of tokens can be cross-matched by the type of businesses of the issuers, whether the token is redeemable (these are known as 'Good For' tokens), town, state or country of origin, the types of legends or designs, plus the makers or designers, methods and the materials used, and whether it is an advertising, tourist souvenir, celebratory, commemorative or sporting token and even whether they are dated and pinpoint a particular time frame in history.
Tokens of the late 1800's and early 1900's are probably the most challenging to collect as the quantities are relatively small and many of the issuers - and even some of the towns of origin - are no longer with us.
The American Old West 'ghost town' saloon or livery stable tokens, even fantasy ones - like those supposedly from the Alamo Saloon, Abilene or the OK Corral, Tombstone - in particular, are very popular with U.S. collectors and can be had for a few Australian dollars.
Tokens can be linked with major events in our economic or political history, and the ways that tokens can be categorized is as intriguingly endless as is the numbers and types produced.
I have mentioned before that I am a 'magpie' collector because I have an insatiable appetite to know about all aspects of the hobby, so, this is another 'spud on the plate' for me - and it could be for you as well.
With the assistance of fellow T.N.S. Member, Jerry Adams of Texas, I have managed to put together a small, but hugely, satisfying accumulation of U.S. tokens and commemorative medallions and, whilst this is not my main body of interest, I feel that any numismatist worth their salt should be prepared to expand their horizons on occasion just to keep from becoming totally introverted with their speciality.
Two of the major aspects of collecting any sort of object - outside of the material value - are education and entertainment, but, when like-minded people congregate, who is the most interesting to talk to - a one subject expert who will turn a chat into a major lecture and leave you for dead with an overload of knowledge about something you have only a bare interest in, or a 'magpie' who appreciates a wide range of subjects and is also prepared to listen and learn about other choices of collectibles? Under normal circumstances, give me the 'Jack-of-all-Trades', any day!
Token collectors will never be boring or bored - because tokens do supply a spectrum of interest that is - spectacular!
It is worth having at look at a few of Jerry Adams's stories just to see how intriguing this area of numismatics can be.
His recommended site is at: http://members.fortunecity.com/tokenguy/tokentales/
Further Recommended Reading:
'Tokens and Medals' - A Guide to the Identification and Values of U.S. Exonumia. (Stephen Alpert & Lawrence Elman)
EDITOR’S REVIEW. (Originally published Tasmanian Numismatist Vol. 4 - April 1999.)
"TOKENS AND MEDALS".
A Guide To The Identification and Values of United States Exonumia.
First Edition, 1992" by Stephen P. Alpert and Lawrence E. Elman.
This soft cover catalogue consists of 300 big pages (21 x 28 cms.) regarding the issuance of tokens, medals and tags that are grouped under a common title of exonumia. It is liberally illustrated (4,000 of them) with copies of rubbings plus some photos of tokens and is designed to cater from the beginner right through to the more sophisticated collector.
It is not a fancy book, but it certainly contains a HUGE amount of information about nearly every aspect that makes up this area of collecting. This is a book designed by collectors for collectors.
Composition of tokens, general history, differences between old and new styles, wooden nickels, historical, fraternal and commercial issues all are explained in a style that is easy to read and shows that the authors know their hobby. The way that the subject has been tackled means that the basic information in this catalogue will not date even though values may vary as in any other section of exonumia.
Like the German and Austrian Notgeld phenomenon of the 1920’s, the U.S. token story can never be told in full in any one volume - but this Catalogue at least will give us an inkling about those items that are truly destined to be ‘collectibles’.
For those of our readers who have found this fascinating area of numismatics has crept up on you - and the itch needs to be scratched - Stephen recently advised me that an extremely limited stock of this informative catalogue is still available for U.S.15.00 post-paid surface mail. It comes shrink-wrapped in a sturdy cardboard container and can be sent direct from the author/publisher on a first in, first served basis until sold out. He has no plans for a reprint or a Second Edition at this time. Stephen also deals internationally in quality tokens, further details can be obtained from his current web-site.
Stephen P. Alpert
P.O. Box 66331. Los Angeles, CA 90066.
Selected and/or edited items are re-published with permission or can be regarded as public domain.
LEGAL TENDER TOKENS.
For those Australian readers and entrepreneurs who contemplate racing out and issuing 'Good For' tokens bear in mind that our currency laws are different and they may become a legal minefield.
In 1990, a short-term tourist promotional 'dollar' coin was successfully produced for the Queensland Gold Coast by the Royal Australian Mint (R.A.M.) and, in 1992, a second municipal token scheme was initiated by the City of Maryborough, in the state of Queensland, with several other nearby municipalities also expressing interest in joining in the overall area promotion.
The 'Marydollar' coin was valid until 31st December, 1992 and it proved to be just as successful as the Gold Coast promotion.
The R.A.M. was initially enthusiastic about the general idea, and plans were put in progress for the towns of Toowoomba, Gympie and Bundaberg to become involved in similar promotional schemes at this official level.
However, a legal can of worms had been opened.
After the initial release of 2,000 'Marydollar' coins dated 1992, the Treasury 'powers-that-be' took advice from the Department of the Attorney-General and changed their attitude towards the legality of these special local token coins produced by the R.A.M.
The Treasury then advised the R.A.M. that the Currency Act would have to be amended to cater for the 'legal tender' aspect of the promotions - and that was not on the political agenda. The ensuing red-tape that was wrapped around the project deterred the promoters from continuing with a second release of the 'Marydollar'.
Over the years we have published details of many Canadian Municipal Trade Tokens (M.T.T.) from Internet newsletters kindly supplied to us by Serge Pelletier of Eligi Consultants who are designers and producers of these promotional items.
These quality tokens are found in collections all over the world, including Australia, so it is therefore appropriate that we include Eligi's own definition of what constitutes an M.T.T. - in Canada - for our local readers who are contemplating adding this extra string to their numismatic bow.
"A Municipal Trade Token (MTT) can be described as a community-issued coin which is legal tender in a given area during a specific period.
It is thus used in normal commercial transactions, at participating merchants, during its period of validity.
It is perfectly legal to issue your “own currency” as long as it does not resemble in any way Canadian currency and the issuer has no intent to replace the money of the realm by its own. We recommend putting the sentence “valid at participating merchants” on any MTT to avoid any problem. An MTT is preferably endorsed by a non-profit organization such as a Chamber of Commerce, a Benevolent Club (Kinsmen, Lions, Jaycees) or any other similar organization.
A local authority – such as the Mayor or Regional Council – gives the tokens their “legal tender” status, specifying that it will be accepted in any commercial transaction at participating merchants during its period of validity.
The Issuing Agency asks its bank, ideally all banks of the area, to be a “participating merchant” during the period of validity. As the “Issuing Agency” you are backing the value of the token just like the Canadian Government backs our currency. To do so, it is preferable to open a special bank account for the program. All revenues from the sales should be deposited into this account. This account will also serve to reimburse merchants. A well-run program will have a maximum of 20% tokens redeemed, as most of the tokens will be kept as souvenirs.
It is not necessary that all merchants in the area participate in the program. What is essential is that those that do participate do more than just accept the token. They must be your main outlets and they must encourage people to keep the tokens as souvenirs. They should also give it to customers as change. Ideally, your main sponsors will be willing to get involved in that area. The participating merchants must redeem the token without questions.
The region in which the token is valid is usually restricted to the municipality itself or the greater area. The validity period could be short, say three weeks or a month, usually tied to a specific event. Sometimes it may be more beneficial to have a two to three month period. When the tokens are received, they must be distributed to the participating merchants (hotels, motels, restaurants, bars, boutiques, grocery stores, gas stations...).
It is essential that all participating merchants have a reasonable amount of tokens at all times (but not too many). Small posters are distributed to clearly identify the participating merchants. When a merchant runs out of tokens because they sell well there, they must be resupplied rapidly. When a merchant has difficulty in selling the tokens, some of them should be recalled and redistributed to a merchants that has greater success. Some merchants will be enthusiastic, others not.
It is preferable to issue a Municipal Trade Token versus a medallion since many collectors will be interested in the piece only if it is an MTT. Furthermore, the inhabitants of your region and tourists are more attracted to MTTs. It must be the mystique surrounding the fact that the municipality has its own “money”."
NOT SO LEGAL 'LEGAL TENDER'.
Regular readers of this newsletter will be fully aware of the currency of Prince John, Duke of Avram.
If you remember, the Duke gave the Australian banking scene a much-needed regulation shake-up back in 1982 when he opened his 'Royal Bank of Avram' in the beautiful fishing village of Strahan on Tasmania’s wild west coast.
The tiny private Duchy of Avram was originally created in 1982 by self-appointed Prince John on his estate of Ormiston - but that is another story! (Tasmanian Numismatist - Volume 2, Issue 6, June 1997). Numerous Internet mentions of the Duchy are available, but for those interested readers the main site is located at: http://www.grandduchy.org/
The Duke's coinage was seized, and he was taken to court, for breaking an archaic banking law that was proven to be dubious - and probably even unconstitutional - but he was acquitted after the test case raised by the Government was dismissed.
I had the opportunity of meeting His Grace just after bagfuls of his original coinage issue, dated 1982, had been returned to him and, of course, I bought a complete uncirculated set - which I still have - and, in recent years, His Grace kindly arranged with the Royal Bank of Avram for another new Ducal coinage set, commemorating the Millennium, to be sent to me as a gift.
The Year 2000 Ducals, issued by the Royal Bank of Avram, show the newest heraldic logos as commissioned with permission from Prince John.
1982 issue of Ducals 2000 issue of Ducals (Illustration enlarged).
The first two issues of the coinage (1982, 1985) have been listed in a 1992 Krause publication, ‘Unusual World Coins. 3rd. Edition by Colin R. Bruce II, which gave dates of issue and full mintage details and, after summarising the history of the bank and the results of the court case, Colin Bruce II stated, "...... Therefore his Royal Bank must be considered a legal institution."
Duke John's Ducals.
The going exchange rate of the 1985 issue, was 1 Ducal to U.S.$0.10 (or about A$0.145 per Ducal at that particular time).
The attractive issue consisted of six various sizes coins with face values of 1, 3, 7, 15, 30 and 75 Ducals - bearing different obscure, and slightly off-beat, heraldic devices set into various coloured enamelled backgrounds on the slightly domed obverse, while the flat plain metallic reverse reads - DUCHY OF AVRAM.- centred, with the date below the raised lettering.
Listed below are the estimated numismatic values of the Duchy's coinage in U.S. Dollars at uncirculated condition in 1992, and the official mintage figures for the two issues as listed in ‘Unusual World Coins.’
U.W.C. Ref. No. X1. X2. X3. X4. X5. X6.
DUCALS 1. 3. 7. 15. 30. 75.
1982. 271 274 273 276 276 269
C.V. US$ 5 8 10 15 22 30
1985. 250 250 250 250 250 250
C.V. US$ 4 6.50 8 9 17.50 24
Colour. Blue. Green Orange Pink. Yellow. Red.
Size (mm.) 13 17 20 22 25 30
Weight (grms.) 2 3 4 6 7 10 (Approx.)
Unusual World Coins. (Third Edition. 1992) by Colin R. Bruce II. Krause Publications Inc.
World Coin News. dated April 1st. 1986. Article ‘ Just call him John’ by Kit Kiefer, WCN Managing Editor.
The Original Mint Release of Banknotes by the Royal Bank of Avram.
From an official Pamphlet kindly supplied by His Grace, The Most Noble, Admiral, The Duke of Avram.
SELF-PROCLAIMED PRINCIPALITIES 'COINAGE'.
For those who are interested in token coinages from other self-proclaimed 'principalities' within the borders of Australia, we have several non-endorsed, but relatively well-known, online sites that feature these types of popular fantasy tokens.
Most are available to collectors in return for US$'s at an 'exchange rate' set by the 'principalities' involved.
Ministry of Finance of the Empire of Atlantium is pleased to advise that minting
of the Empire's inaugural 20th Anniversary commemorative non-circulating coinage
has commenced, and is due for completion within the month.
Full production details are also available at the above page. Queries concerning the above may be directed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Founded unilaterally in 10500 (1981) and headquartered on a small territorial enclave in Sydney, Australia, the Empire of Atlantium is the world's foremost non-territorial sovereign state and global citizenship advocacy. It currently has over five hundred Citizens, residing in some sixty countries. The official online presence of the Empire of Atlantium can be found at http://www.atlantium.org
His Royal Highness Prince Leonard, Sovereign Prince of The Hutt River Province Principality invites you to participate in the benefits of belonging to this unique nation. Enrich your cultural and social standing. Develop extensive trade and business relationships world wide. http://www.wps.com.au/hutriver/currency.htm
Readers' Mailbag is a revised section of our newsletter and will now focus on readers' requests for contacts or information as well as any relevant and constructive comments about numismatics or the contents of articles in this newsletter. Previously, these requests were incorporated within the Internet News section as space permitted.
This section is provided as a service only and our usual disclaimers, regarding dealings between parties, will continue to apply.
PO Box 253
Macksville NSW 2447
Jon Saxton has been a discerning correspondent to the 'Tasmanian Numismatist' for the past three years. Jon is based in New York City, N.Y. and is a software developer and the U.S. agent for Triton Technologies International Ltd.
Graeme: I read your article (regarding
the possible effects of the Internet on club attendances - Ed.)
in the August 2001 issue of the Tasmanian Numismatist
(Internet Edition) and felt it deserved some comment.
I acknowledge the value of face-to-face interaction with people sharing a common interest of the sort that occurs, and is fostered by, regular club meetings. I also agree with your underlying concern that the internet may be having a detrimental effect on club membership. The interaction may be less personal but it requires so much less effort that people are tempted to forego some of the benefits of attending a club meeting.
Nevertheless, there are some positive benefits.
In my own case, the resumption of my hobby after a 35-year hiatus was in part a direct result of access to the internet.
I live in New York where the number of people interested in Australian coins can probably be counted on one finger. In April 1999 when I dug out my old Renniks coin album containing coins that I had pulled from circulation in the sixties, I noted that there were lots of gaps and that not many of the coins were of particularly desirable quality. Through the medium of the internet I was able to access a worldwide marketplace of Australian coins and thereby start enhancing my collection. Even more important, though, was the ease with which I made contact with people who actually knew important stuff, like how coins were made, how dies were prepared, which books were worth reading.
Since I was interested in die varieties,
this sort of thing was pretty fundamental. Although I do most of
my research by carefully examining coins under a binocular
microscope (the purchase of which was negotiated through the
internet) I was also able to discuss my findings with other
researchers in Australia and elsewhere, something which would
have been at best tedious through any other medium. Of course,
the internet gives me access to some literature such as the
publication which carried the article to which I am now
responding, and finally, gives me a place to publish my own
findings and to reach an
audience far beyond what I could manage otherwise.
In the three years that have passed since my interest in numismatics was reawakened, I have only been able to attend two ANS meetings. Those were wonderful experiences but the tyranny of distance prevents more frequent attendance.
In the meantime, the internet is a means of staying in touch.
It may indeed be bland and impersonal - but it is a hell of a lot better than nothing at all. Nothing I have said here contradicts anything in your article but, for a few of us, the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. For what it is worth, when I do eventually return to Australia the attendance at my local coin club will increase by one. Regards,
Triton Technologies International Ltd
Ed.- Thanks again, Jon, for your constructive comments which are always welcome as usual!
As you have noted, my comments were meant to highlight the fact that the internet has the potential to be a double-edged sword because of its 'Quick Fix' of information. It sometimes means that some club members now find it easier to do their collecting and hold discussions from the comfort and privacy of their own homes than by physically attending and becoming involved in the protocol that accompanies a meeting.
Recently, we have tried to free-up our Tasmanian Numismatic Society meeting procedures and get back to grass roots; this seems to have put some of the fun back into the gatherings and, perhaps, it may be a clue for the future.
However, I thoroughly agree with your observations that, used wisely, the Internet can be a wonderful and useful tool - particularly for those numismatists who have no ready access to a club or who can arrange few personal contacts with fellow collectors.
Hopefully, a happy medium may be possible if we put our minds to it and offer some realistic solutions to cater for both camps.
This Internet newsletter has proven to be a successful way of addressing the international audience and we welcome readers' positive participation - such as yours - which originated from a brief email three years ago.
Another long time email friend and correspondent from Uruguay has made an unusual request for assistance.
Those members or readers who may be able to assist are invited to do so either direct or through this column.
Dear Graeme : Not Long ago, a friend of mine from the US bought at Auction, two Post Master General's telephone tokens, believed to be Tasmanian issues, in Zinc alloy. One was good for One Shilling and the other for the Six-Pence size. (You remember that we were considering that subject not long ago.)
I wonder if I could learn a bit more of these PMG's tokens and others of the Penny Size - and maybe even with a remote chance of acquiring a few of these Telephone tokens in any other sizes which, I believe, exist.
Kind regards and thanks, Jose Luis.
E-Mail : RUBIOJL@ADINET.COM.UY
Sheep-shearing & phone token student world-wide
calle Enrique Munoz 810
11.300 Montevideo, Uruguay.
MISCELLANEOUS Q & A's
This is not an offer to professionally evaluate items or an offer to purchase or become directly involved in commercial dealings. The most interesting or most frequently asked questions will be answered - to the best of our ability - through these columns in a general manner as well as immediately and directly to the questioner if possible.
All names and direct contact addresses that may be supplied will be kept anonymous if desired.
Recent Search Report Queries.
Many years ago, in a country far, far away..... Blacksmith tokens made an appearance, and one of our readers wants us to go where no one else has cared to go for a while, and explore the phenomena once again.
Contrary to popular belief, blacksmiths, in years gone by, did not only shoe horses - they were highly respected technicians with iron who were expected to make, repair and invent items from all sorts of other metals as well.
As the grandson of a blacksmith - and having been taught the fundamentals of the art of blacksmithing when it was still a trade that was hands on - I can fully appreciate the hard work and thought that goes with the job.
However, one thing I wouldn't have thought too seriously about is the fact that blacksmiths were probably the first mint-masters.
Prior to coinage as we know it, many forms of metal were used as mediums of exchange - including lumps or ingots, rods and bars, as well as various shapes that had values attached to them to represent their buying power. In fact, they are tokens!
As numismatists we know that, eventually, these metal pieces were cut into more easily used slices and shapes and then hit with a crude die - probably made by the same blacksmith who heated and hammered metal ingots into rods and cut them into reasonably uniform pieces in the first instance. Coins were born - and a blacksmith was probably the mid-wife.
Specialised metal workers then took over from the blacksmith to finish the production of many of the wonderful ancient coins we can still see today.
The use of precious metals such as gold, silver and copper as well as alloys of these metals grew to be the accepted norm as far as the manufacture of coins was concerned but, over the years, coins have slowly moved in value from the point where the face value and intrinsic value were expected to be the same, to that of a totally symbolic token of the value stipulated.
These modern 'tokens' are a natural progression of the system.
From time to time, glitches occurred in the availability of official intrinsic value coinage and, as we know, the use of emergency alternatives has always been a way to keep the wheels of commerce turning.
Tokens created from numerous materials as diverse as stone to animal skins and even cut up playing cards have been used - but of course the valued metallic symbol has always been the preferred option.
During the course of history, many countries have used metal tokens that either resemble the standard coinage when that was in short supply or provided an alternative when differences of political opinion reached the zenith. Sometimes the tokens do not resemble coins as we know them because they were made from manufactured metals already available - for instance the silver and pewter plate or bronze gunmetal used during the English civil war - but, if these sorts of tokens are deemed acceptable, they perform the same function as a coin.
Again a blacksmith was probably called into service to create the emergency token money.
It is interesting to note that Canada had a whole series of tokens - which were either copies of coins or even of other tokens - that were branded with the encompassing name of 'Blacksmith Tokens'.
The following extract is from my copy of the 16th Edition (1998) of 'COINS of CANADA' by J.A. Haxby and the late R.C. Willey.
The 'Blacksmith' Tokens
This fascinating group of tokens derives its name from a quaint legend that attributes their origin to a Montreal blacksmith, who made them to pay for liquor.
Whatever their origin, it is clear that the blacksmith tokens were not produced by a single source and arose over a period of some years. They could have appeared as early as 1820 when the tokens then in circulation had been largely decried and the only acceptable coppers were the battered, worn out old British and Irish regal halfpennies of George III. In any case they were still being introduced as late as 1837. The 'blacksmiths' were initially copper, but the later issues tended to be brass.
In a traditional sense the 'blacksmiths' have been defined as specially produced imitations of worn British and Irish regal halfpence. The first 'blacksmiths' were just that, but the series grew more complex with the passage of time. and later issues imitated popular tokens in circulation at the time and yet other pieces were of 'original' design resulting from the muling of various dies or the use of dies that were not copying anything.
The 'blacksmith' technique was to leave the designs unfinished and to engrave in very low relief. The devices were often reversed compared to those being copied and usually there was no legend or date.- to further heighten the appearance of age and wear, the copper pieces were darkened by heating before being passed into circulation.
With just enough likeness to a very worn coin, some of the later tokens were also enhanced with some rather unintelligible legends that included similar words to the original coins or tokens - Glorious instead of Georgius was a favourite and Bitit instead of Britt(annia) was another.
The amount of ingenious effort that went into making these 'blacksmith' tokens into a payable proposition must have been worthwhile as the range of examples is so substantial that this area of collection is one in its own right.
These 'blacksmith' tokens command a relatively good market value for the basic styles and an extremely high value for the rarer pieces. (Further information and illustrations at: http://www.vision.net.au/~pwood/nov99.htm#TOKENS )
The collecting of tokens - of all sorts - is now a very large area of the hobby and is categorised under the heading of 'exonumia'. It is fascinating, reasonably economical and with never ending scope. The story of the Canadian 'Blacksmith's tokens' has probably been repeated in other countries to some extent and, while it is just a small part of our overall numismatic history, it is an important one.
As a dedicated user, I must highly recommend the illustrated 250 plus page 'COINS of CANADA' by J.A. Haxby and the late R.C. Willey (The Unitrade Press - Toronto), to all collectors of Canadian numismatics. Its scope and informative texts not only supply fascinating historical aspects to that country's coins but also of its tokens and banknotes.
The following review of the 18th Edition was submitted by T.N.S. Life member, Jerry Remick in October 2000, so current availability of the publication will need to be checked - but any recent copy would be a worthwhile library acquisition.
'COINS of CANADA' ('MONNAIES du CANADA') by J. A. Haxby and the late R. C. Willey.
99 Floral Parkway, Toronto
Ontario. M6L 2C4.
Canada. Ph. (416) 242 - 5900.
catalogue - the only Canadian one that also includes coins, tokens
and banknotes - is printed on 6 x 9 inch pages with a soft-cover
and is spiral bound for ease of use. It would make an ideal gift
for reference by amateur collectors as well as those more advanced
in the hobby and it is reasonably priced at under US$15.00 for
Canadian and under US$10.00 for US residents. All other international enquiries regarding delivery, postal
arrangements and payment should be directed to the publisher.
(At current exchange rates, Australian collectors could expect to
pay under A$20.00 - plus any appropriate postage.)
The catalogue is divided into 10 main chapters:
Canadian Decimal Coins, Gold Coins, Collector's Coins, Collector's Sets, Bullion Issues, the French Regime, Colonial Tokens, Trade, Advertising and Transportation Tokens, Colonial Decimal Coins and a chapter on Canadian Government Banknotes from 1867 - to date.
The 15-page introduction and a 2-page section on Bullion Values, plus a 3-page Glossary of Terms used in Canada, provide useful data for the user and these are backed up with short descriptive and historical texts about each type of coin, token and banknote. There are plenty of photos and enlargements, and gradings are priced in up to 8 grades for many items.
One important feature of this edition is a detailed research done by J. A. Haxby on variations in Queen Victoria's portrait on Canadian and Newfoundland decimal coinage. Clear photos illustrate the type differences.
The catalogue is available in both English or French language versions.
From time to time, readers supply us with scans of 'maverick' trade tokens that they ask about and need help in identifying.
Maverick tokens are those that have no obvious address - or sufficient other detail - with which to trace their place of origin.
As you can imagine trying to narrow these types down to an issuer, time slot, country etc. is quite difficult even though the actual token can be studied intently by the owner.
The recent article (May edition) about the Arabic style tokens featuring a mosque with 6 minarets is a good example.
Recently, another such request was directed to this column and, as it is a subject that is interesting enough to try and explain the thought processes that need to be used to try and satisfy our inquirer, we will go through the steps.
In this instance quite a lot was already known.
The issuers were named as Williams Brothers (or Bros.) Direct Supply Stores Ltd. and the denominations clearly shown were in English. The range consisted of 3d., 6d., One Shilling, Two Shillings and the metal used appears to be tin.
The two higher denominations were presented as square tokens of various size, while the 3d. was round and the 6d. was an oval piece. The inquirer also mentioned having a 5/- brass token but an illustration was not supplied.
From information available we know that they are not within the series of traditional Tradesmen's Tokens issued in Australia or New Zealand during the late 1800's. So that left any other English speaking countries that issued money in those denominations. Why not try England itself?
With the immediate aid of the Internet we located an English numismatic dealer who had several listings - but no illustrations - of Williams' tokens. http://www.coinsale.co.uk/tokens.htm
Likewise, another dealer with a Williams Bros. Direct Supply Stores 5/- 21mm Brass token that was available in V.F. condition for a few English Pounds at: http://www.jc.brett.btinternet.co.uk/tokens.htm
Another, with a 10/- (24mm) and 20/- (28mm) Brass William Bros. pair in V.G. condition also for a few Pounds.
All of the companies whose sites list the tokens are located in the U.K. so the supposition that the items are English gains more credibility. Where do we go from there? There are thousands of Williams' in the United Kingdom and Ireland, for instance, and quite a few Williams Brothers listed on the Internet but most are relatively modern organisations.
The tokens illustrated appear to have a bit of age on them, as the denominations are detailed in the old monetary style, and the owners estimate that they may have been around since the 1920's.
We appear to have struck a temporary dead end! But - have we?
We have now also discovered another lead through a 1958 Irish court case that an earlier action - during 1914 - featuring Williams Bros. Direct Supply Ltd. v Rafferty, had been used as a precedent by the judge in arriving at his decision - so evidently the business was still operating prior to or at that time.
So, we have another tenuous lead to follow - if we can!
How determined are we to find out about the tokens mentioned? I must admit that I am still looking - because perseverance sometimes brings its own rewards; and numismatists usually have to be blessed with lots of it to gain the ultimate answers.
One of our last resorts is to appeal to our international readership for additional assistance with a - Can you help?
If so, in this instance, any of our readers can send any relevant information to the 'Tasmanian Numismatist' so that we can pass it on to our inquirer/readers who live in New Zealand. Our email address is: email@example.com
TASMANIAN TRADESMEN'S TOKENS
Late in 2001, we published a few brief profiles of four Northern Tasmanian Tradesmen's Token issuers:
Joseph Brickhill - Campbell Town (Draper and General Importer)
E. F. Dease - Brisbane St., Launceston (Wholesale & Retail Drapery Warehouse)
Samuel Henry - Deloraine (Emporium)
Thomas White & Son - Westbury. (A replica set of these tokens were also issued as a tourist promotion and have created problems due to their marked similarity to the originals in size and design. - Illustrations below.)
The original Thomas White and Son 1855 Penny token that I have is rather battered and gouged, but it should be sufficiently clear enough to highlight some of the differences between it and the replica which I purchased a few years ago from the White House.
Another recent inquiry for details of a token issuer located in 'Argyle Street, Van Diemen's Land' has prompted me to include, once more, the complete list of the other businessmen known to have issued tokens in Southern Tasmania during the mid 1800's and a general description of the issuer's inscription, as applied to the token.
Some are dated, others have no indication of a release date but most were available during a 30 year period from 1849 - 1878.
The release of a silver shilling dated 1823 by Macintosh and Degraves appears to not have actually occurred until the late 1840's and it took until the mid 1850's for bronze tokens to be available in great numbers.
The demonetisation of these tokens took place in a piecemeal fashion in each of the Australian colonies and Tasmania was one of the last to declare them illegal in 1876 when the Imperial Coinage Act was proclaimed.
Many of these tradesmen issued more than one denomination token and there are several variations in patterns noted in others. As the more intricate details of many of these tokens are too diverse to discuss in this brief listing I suggest a more comprehensive catalogue should be sought to gain further specialised information. (See below).
Lewis Abrahams - Liverpool Street, Hobart (Draper)
J. G. Fleming - Hobart Town (Grocer & Tea Dealer)
I. Friedman - Argyle Street. (Pawnbroker)
O. H. Hedberg - Argyle Street, Hobart Town (Oil & Color Stores)
O. H. Hedberg/Lipman Levy - Hobart/Wellington N.Z. (Importer & Manufacturer of Boots & Shoes)
R. Henry - Liverpool Street, Hobart Town (Wholesale and Retail Ironmonger)
J. Hutton - Hobart Town (Ironmonger)
William Andrew Jarvey - Murray Street, Hobart Town (Pawnbroker and General Clothier)
R. Josephs - New Town, Van Diemen's Land (Toll Gate)
H. Lipscombe - Murray Street, Hobart Town (Seedsman & Salesman - Shipping supplied with all kinds of Colonial produce)
Macintosh & Degraves - Tasmania (saw Mills)
H. J. Marsh & Brother - Murray and Collins St., Hobart Town (Ironmongers)
R. Andrew Mather - Hobart Town (Family Draper)
Joseph Moir - Murray Street, Hobart Town (Wholesale and Retail Ironmongery Establishment 1850)
A. Nicholas - 30 Liverpool St., Hobarton (Liverpool Tea Warehouse)
Alfred Nicholas - Liverpool St., Hobart Town (Tea Warehouse)
R. S. Waterhouse - Hobart Town (Drapery and Manchester House)
W. D. Wood - Montpelier Retreat, Hobart Town (Wine & Spirit Merchant)
Australasian Tokens and Coins - Dr. Arthur Andrews.
Renniks - Australian Coin and Banknote Guide (13th Edition) - Dion Skinner
Renniks - Australian Coin and Banknote Values (19th Edition) - Edited by Ian Pitt.
Another popular aspect of token collecting is to establish a theme, and then try to develop it to the best of your ability.
One popular theme is that of collecting Telephone tokens and/or test pieces - so it is not surprising that, with the current upsurge of interest in tokens, that our 'Reader's Mailbag' as well as our 'Miscellaneous Q & A's' section last month had several inquiries, either about obtaining, or, seeking additional knowledge about Telephone Tokens.
These tokens were mainly test pieces, and were available in many countries as an aid to telephone carriers to test any of their equipment that was operated with coins. With the advent of plastic telephone cards and other electronic means of accessing telephones these types of test piece tokens are rapidly disappearing. Most were designed to coinage specifications of size and weight but were clearly marked that they were test pieces. Some were holed or had a grooved or uniface surface to further heighten awareness of their purpose.
In December 1998, I was made aware that an auction in the U.S.A. of a large collection of Commercial and Transportation tokens etc., that had been accumulated by a long -time American resident in Australia, the late Leslie Hawthorne, had created a lot of interest, amongst American token collectors, about our locally produced Australian items - of which they see but a few!
Amongst the Hawthorne items were several ‘P.M.G. Pennies’ that had apparently been manufactured for the purpose of telephone maintenance by the Post-Master-General’s Department workers,
After several inquiries to ‘TASMEDALS’ of Hobart, I managed to obtain a copy of the now out-of-print "Tasmanian Passes, Checks & Club Tokens" by retired T.N.S. member Noel Harper who was acknowledged as a expert in this field.
Jose Luis Rubio of Uruguay, forwarded three scans of ‘P.M.G. Pennies’, from the Hawthorne collection, which differed slightly to that which was illustrated in Noel’s book, so I decided to check directly with Noel - who was of great assistance and who gave me his permission to use his material in fair dealings. Noel advised me that the uniface ‘penny’ shown in his book (NH 91), was only one of several varieties but it had been the only sample available to him, for illustration purposes, at the time the book was published in 1985.
The difference is that two of the samples supplied by Jose are centre-holed, whilst Noel’s sample was a 30 mm. solid brass or bronze piece with the letters P.M.G. placed horizontally at lower centre and the Government ‘Broad arrow’ stamped horizontally above the M and with a user’s identification number also incused horizontally above the ‘broad arrow’ and centred on the disc.
To quote part of Noel’s section about the Post-Master-General’s Department from his book:
"Tasmanian Passes, Checks & Club Tokens ",
"The P.M.G's Department also issued a type of token in Tasmania, usually known as a 'P.M.G. Penny'. These were brass tokens and used to operate "long breach" public telephones by maintenance workers. They were usually issued approximately six at a time which overcame the necessity to use pennies for testing purposes. At a time when P.M.G. Pennies were in use, telephone calls cost two pence. These tokens were also used whenever public telephones were cleared of money to ensure that the
mechanism of the phone was functioning correctly after clearance. The 'P.M.G. Penny' was not only used in Tasmania but had an Australian wide application, and was withdrawn during the early 1950's."
The Australian telephone and postal system, was eventually split into two separate autonomous entities in the late 1960’s or early 1970’s, and was in the process of being completely modernised into an automated system at that time, particularly in the major cities of Sydney and Melbourne. It took quite a few more years before the whole continent was brought into the 20th. Century and for the local call operators to be phased out in outback and country areas - but the spectre of technology had appeared on the telecommunications horizon and, like the tide, it could never be turned back. The days of ‘P.M.G. Pennies’ were numbered!
Like the White House token replicas, mentioned in another article in this edition, occasionally we are asked to identify other numismatic items that are 'not quite right'. Many of these pieces are often deliberate copies of the real thing - or items mistakenly thought to be genuine. We have often related the tale of the Reader's Digest 'Austrian Ducat' as an example, but there are other instances where pendants, brooches and even buttons that have a coin like appearance, can be mistaken for a legitimate coin of long ago.
During May, we were presented with an excellent scan from a Dutch reader, Wiard Bakker, with a request to supply some particulars, if we could, of the date and origin of what appeared to be an Italian gold Zecchino. (See below)
From at least the late fifteenth to the early sixteenth century, Italian gold coins, including 'ducati' and 'fiorini', were generically and plurally called Zecchini - from 'zecco', the Italian word for 'mint'.
The Venetian Zecchino was minted until the French, under Napoleon, conquered Venice in 1797; and the last Florentine Zecchino was minted in 1853. In the lingua franca trade language of the Mediterranean, the word 'Zecchino' was eventually corrupted to 'sequin' but, in its day, the coins themselves were commonly used as Trade Coinage and accepted in Africa, India and the East Indies.
However, this particular gold Zecchino 'coin' was another of the not 'quite right' examples that occasionally turn up amongst early Trade Coinage. The pre-1700 23mm. gold religious type item bore most of the usual design traits of a Zecchino from Venice, but the legend did not appear to be in Latin as the originals always are, and the scan appears to show markings on the top rim, in particular, indicating the possibility that it had been mounted in some way.
The 'coin' vaguely reminded me of a more modern version of the 'barbaric' copy coins that abounded in the far flung colonies of the Ancient Roman civilisation - and the legend and sequence of letters made no sense whatsoever, even considering the assortment of abbreviations that Zecchinos nearly always exhibit.
In addition the gold weigh, at approx. 3 grams, was approximately .500 grams lighter than most genuine Italian Zecchino coins.
Prior to an in-depth search on my part, Wiard emailed me again and advised me that he had obtained details from another colleague that identified the 'Zecchino' as a late 15th. or early 16th. Century replica made in India - and that saved me hours of fruitless searching back through centuries of legitimate Zecchinos just to satisfy my own curiosity as well.
Numismatists, at all stages of expertise, can often be confused by these types of replicas that are made from precious metal but are noticeably 'not quite right'.
"Is it a new variety - or is it a replica or, is it a piece of jewellery?" we must ask ourselves.
The value of the item would certainly appreciate if it was a genuine numismatic artefact, of course!
According to the 'Standard Catalog of World Coins' a real Venetian Zecchino could be worth between US$60 - $250.00 dependant on condition (V.G. - X.F.) Apparently, the coin, although being an imitation, was used as legal tender in India.
Gold coin expert Clark Smith of the Coin Vault (www.coinvault.com) said it was currently worth about US$80 on the gold coin market. In this instance, as it is a well produced and a broadly accepted copy of a known style, the market value would be based on the current gold price of US$320 per ounce, plus a percentage more added for the artistic effort and the relatively high grading - just like any other 'legitimate' coin.
At other times, a crude replica piece of 3 grams (0.105 ounce) in a low grading condition might be priced according to the bullion gold price alone (about US$35.00) - so the moral of this article is:
When in doubt,
always consult any of the many experts in the field to determine the
authenticity of your precious metal coin - or any other piece that is
potentially valuable - and get them to provide an accurate and current market
Indian Replica of a late 15th Century Italian Zecchino used as Trade Coinage.
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