Whitman Publishing Releases Bigger Bowers Guide to Civil War Tokens

October 14, 2014 By ekr


(Atlanta, Georgia) — Whitman Publishing announces the release of an expanded, updated second edition of the award-winning Guide Book of Civil War Tokens, by Q. David Bowers. The 512-page book will debut in December 2014, and will be available online (including at Whitman.com) and from bookstores and hobby shops nationwide. Its retail price is $39.95. It can also be borrowed for free as a benefit of membership in the American Numismatic Association, through the Dwight N. Manley Numismatic Library (money.org/library).


The first edition of the Guide Book of Civil War Tokens debuted in August 2013 at the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money in Chicago. Bowers autographed copies at the Whitman Publishing booth and presented an overview at the meeting of the Civil War Token Society. The first edition was very popular, with its first print run selling out before year’s end. In 2014 it won the Token and Medal Society’s Mishler Exonumia Cataloguing Award.


The second edition is an update and expansion of the first, with 64 more pages. It features a completely new 50-page illustrated appendix on sutler tokens (private issues of government-licensed contractors who typically operated camp stores in connection with traveling military regiments); hundreds of individually updated values based on today’s market; new (and more) images; the latest research in this active field; and a bibliography of related books, journals, and Web sites.


Civil War tokens are small cent–sized tokens, mostly of copper or brass, that were issued by private firms to serve as emergency “money” during the small-change shortage of 1862 to 1865. As the military conflict dragged on, Americans hoarded any gold, silver, and eventually even copper U.S. coins they received in change, keeping them as hedges against wartime economic uncertainty. Civil War tokens, privately issued by hundreds of merchants and organizations and minted in the millions, were used as substitutes for hoarded “pennies” to make change for small purchases. Today these tokens are highly collectible, with values generally ranging from $15 for common, circulated pieces to more than $15,000 for rarities including unique tokens. In recent years, with eBay offerings, professional auction listings, and other opportunities to buy and sell, Civil War tokens have emerged as a dynamic part of the marketplace.


Bowers, widely regarded as the “Dean of American Numismatics,” wrote A Guide Book of Civil War Tokens with the cooperation of the Civil War Token Society, the American Numismatic Society, the Token and Medal Society, the American Numismatic Association, and other leading organizations, museums, libraries, collectors, dealers, and researchers. The book includes more than 2,000 full-color images, plus values in multiple grades, rarity ratings, detailed historical background, a study of how Civil War tokens were manufactured, ways to collect them, identification of unusual varieties, and information on the potential for valuable new discoveries. It covers both patriotic tokens and “store cards” (merchant advertising tokens), as well as sutler tokens (some of which used Civil War token dies) and encased postage stamps of the era. Nearly every known Civil War token die is described in both pictures and text.


“There is no other reference like the Guide Book of Civil War Tokens,” said Whitman publisher Dennis Tucker. “It is the only full-color illustrated price guide to these collectible pieces of Americana. With a small investment of $39.95—about the price of a common copper token in Extremely Fine condition—a collector, dealer, or appraiser can become an expert on Civil War tokens and sutler tokens.”


“No book on how to collect Civil War tokens has ever been as thorough,” said Dr. George Fuld, a well-known expert in the field. “I expect that it will be a standard reference for years to come.” Fred Reed, another specialist in Civil War money and editor of the Token and Medal Society Journal, said, “Every collector of this series will esteem this volume, and every historian or serious writer on the Civil War should consult its colorful pages in the future.”

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