You probably know there was a time in American history when a piece of paper currency was called a horse blanket. This is because the size of paper these bills were printed upon was larger than what we see today. For sure not horse blanket sized though, and it would be a bit of a stretch, if you'll pardon the pun, to get that bill over the back of your old gray mare. Still the nickname sticks, and today we now know that money indeed can be a horse blanket. But did you know that the horse blanket was also once money? Well, sort of. Out in the West, in 1830's California, it was a wild frontier except along the coastlines where a busy trade took place with ships bound for ports in Boston as well as other parts of the world. There was no established American monetary system because California was not in America at the time. And because of a War of Independence with Spain, Mexico was not a part of Spain either. This was Mexican California, once only a series of Spanish Missions and Rancherias, residents of all sorts now worked to profit off of a booming California cattle trade and the hides and tallow it produced. Inhabitants of what later becomes the Golden State relied upon the value within precious metals to conduct day to day business, mainly silver coins and bullion. Richard Henry Dana Junior in his book Two Years Before The Mast says that while he was surprised as the quantity of silver in circulation circa 1834 in northern California, it was not just silver being spent: â€śI certainly never saw so much silver at one time in my life, as during the week that we were at Monterey. The truth is, they have no credit system, no banks, and no way of investing money but in cattle. They have no circulating medium but silver and hides---which the sailors call California Bank Notes. Everything that they buy they must pay for in one or the other of these things. The hides they bring down dried and doubled, in clumsy ox-carts, or upon mules' backs, and the money they carry tied up in a handkerchief;--fifty, eighty, or an hundred dollars and half dollars.â€ť Now you know a little more about the relationship between a â€śhorse blanketâ€ť and a horse blanket, and how a California Bank Note not only kept you warm but could also get you dinner and a bottle of rye.
I like to read about history and coins. These past few weeks I came across references to a coinage act of April 22, 1864. This Act had a impact of some of items I like to collect. This act changed the composition of the Indian Cent, it created the 2 Cent piece, and pretty much did away with Civil War Tokens. I casual collect all these items. I look for coins and tokens with nice eye appeal and usually in grades of Very Fine and above. I belong to the Fly-In Club (Flying Eagles and Indian Cents) and The Civil War Token Society. The quarterly publication of Fly-In Club is the" Longacre Ledger" tells about different varieties and the hunt for the coins. I do not really look for varieties, but the publication has great photographs. I also belong to the Civil War Token Society which also issues a quarterly publication.The cost of membership in these clubs are well worth the dues. You can find more information on these clubs at fly-in.org & cwtsociety.org. I have not found a 2 Cent club, but would be a member if there was one. Whitman Publications have "Redbooks" on Flying Eagle & Indian Cents, and also on Civil War Tokens. I recommend both. Also, there is a nice a book by Kevin Flynn "The Authoritative Reference on Two Cents Coins." Even though I do not purchase a lot of coins and tokens, The clubs and books keep me informed. I want to tell the story of my first Civil War Token. I was about 12 years old in the early 60's when my sisters brought a "coin" home with an Indian head on one side and "Not One Cent" on the other. My sisters received this as part of a payment while working as car hops at A & W. Hopefully, you like this blog. I am planning to post my rambling thoughts on a somewhat regular basis. Happy Collecting, from "SUN" (Southern Utah Numismatist).