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Long Beard's Blog

19 Dec 2020

A Purpose Served

Exonumia | Long Beard

War tokens, as they were referred to when issued, have transformed into what the numismatic community calls Civil War tokens. While this title may be aptly appropriate given when they were struck, the subset category bearing merchant name or address seem to fall under the same. Tokens bear a patriotic design, as shown in the first two images. Store cards, while the obverse may be similar to that of tokens, bear the merchant, his goods or services and an address. Being as both served the same purpose it is easy to understand the confusion. Although many in the coin collecting hobby have heard of these, perhaps in their possession, the focus of this weeks blog looks into the origin. Enjoy!




In doing my usual research, first a general web search to see what turns up, I began seeing a regurgitation of the Wikipedia answer on nearly every website I looked at. Intrigued, as if not when I began, the afore mentioned is the last place to look for definitive answers. Or as close as one might get. Witnessing this gross negligence and poor judgement on the writers part, beginning as close to the source as possible is always the most logical approach. H.A. Ratterman, a die sinker and engraver from Cincinnati, Ohio, was the name which popped up repeatedly as I had begun. With a name entered into the search box of the Numimatist digital archives, several articles appeared. Of those, the July 1911 issue was an interview conducted with John Stanton, another die sinker working in Cincinnati at the time. Purportedly, as the article had not worded it as fact, the first war tokens were struck by him in late 1862. What he had said specifically is that the idea arrived having seen similar tokens in Lafayette, Indiana earlier in the year. Unable to find any further proof of the where and by who on these little gems, the conclusion is that he referenced encased coinage which had been issued around the same time as which he claimed for the idea.While the recollections of an 82 year old should suffice, further research leaves his accounts with more questions. His assertions of producing tokens and store cards covering the many Ohio towns and into Michigan are in fact accurate. In any event, all evidence points towards Cincinnati as the the birthplace of the war token. Well, at least the majority of researchers/writes may have gotten the place correct.




What I had discovered for certain were the large numbers of men in the die sinking, stamping and engraving trade. James Murdock, Jr and William Spencer were two such with a direct connection to Stanton as they were employed by him. In fact, both men partnered together in 1864 to establish Murdock & Spencer Co. having purchased the business from the former. While exact figures may not be known, no other firm produced as many varieties spanning as many states, north and south. So why is this important to who created the civil war token and store card? In any business, then as now, credit tends to fall upon ownership. Is it plausible to conclude that James Murdock had the idea much in the way Stanton recalled in the interview? As with any business, the owner would be hard pressed on time with those things required to keep it operational. Could it simply have been Stanton relaying the idea and Murdock actually making it a reality? Questions concealed by the past. Dare not lost, simply awaiting discovery!





Comments

Mal_ANA_YN

Level 4

I have seen CWT, but do not own any yet. Great insight blog.

CentSearcher

Level 5

Makes me want to get a civil war token! I will have to look in to it, thanks for sharing!

Kepi

Level 6

Great blog! I love Civil War Tokens! You have some really nice examples ; )

Longstrider

Level 6

Great job. Shows how researched can be done. Nice examples. Join or Die. The CWTS that is. Thanks.

Mike

Level 7

One more thing they have a rarity scale from one to ten. One is they made 5000 or more then as you get lower the price goes up. A ten means only one made unique. That's out of my budget!!

Mike

Level 7

I have a nice collection of Hard Times Tokens and Civil War Tokens. I'm a member over the Civil War Society. There are such famous names of die sinkers I will not name them all. One used to go to the battlefield were confederate and union soldiers would buy them and send them home to there families for food and clothing. . Mr. Bowers wrote two books on them. But it was the Fuld Brothers who did the original books. Stanton is the die sinker who use to travel and sell them. There fun and great to collect. Thanks for the blog Always enjoy them.

Long Beard

Level 5

I have George and Melvin's Patriotic Civil War Tokens, first edition third print and U.S. Civil War Store Cards, 1975 fourth edition. The latter being tough to find in a first addition, the few that appear are expensive.

Stumpy

Level 5

A great blog on an intriguing subject. I also like the back ground research, well written and very interesting. While I currently don't own any CWT, they are certainly on my watch list. Long Beard prior to joining this site, I had heard of them but never contemplated owning one. Thank you for expanding my knowledge base and scope of interest. Later!

walking liberty

Level 4

Not one cent. LOL just imagine getting this in your change

Golfer

Level 5

I would love to join the Civil War token society club. But I won't. Look's like an awesome area to collect. Thanks for a very interesting topic of collecting.

I. R. Bama

Level 5

I appreciate the quality of your research. Wikipedia can never be considered as anything at best as a secondary source. In learning how to do research we were taught to never rely on a secondary source. Use it to trace back the original source to support your research. Also, you have demonstrated the importance of using eye witness sources as they add a high degree of credibility to your research. All of these tokens are of historical significance. We see numerous examples of these issues throughout the Shenandoah valley from local stores of the era

I've tried to put together a collection of civil war tokens from small towns around mine in Ohio, I've had quite a hard time, and little cataloging to go off of.

"SUN"

Level 5

Good blog! Civil War Tokens are interesting to collect. If interested in CWT join Civil War Token Society. It is worth it.

Long Beard

Level 5

I was a member several years back until my interest shifted. Perhaps the first of the year I'll enroll again not to allow membership to lapse.Along that note, I was also an active member of the Virginia Historical Society around the time. As of the moment, I'm a member of PAN, the BCCS and obviously the ANA. Which may be a contributing factor for not re-upping.

World_Coin_Nut

Level 5

Great blog. I like these a lot but have chosen to only be a casual collector. There are enough other things that I focus on.

CoinHunter

Level 5

Nice blog!

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