Hard Times Tokens
Part Two
Store Cards
The concept of store card tokens goes back to
the 1790’s in England when British Trade
tokens (aka Conder tokens) were used there.
In the United States, store cards were being
issued on large cent-size copper tokens before
the Era of Hard Times. Russell Rulau, the
modern authority on US trade tokens includes
those tokens struck from 1829 through 1844 as
part of the Hard Times Series.
During 1837 as the Recession deepened,
many shop owners accepted store cards for 1¢
towards the purchase of their product even if
they weren’t the advertiser; this despite the
token’s probable cost to the proprietor of sixty to
eighty cents on a dollar’s worth of tokens..
The two foremost authorities on the series
were Lyman H. Low and Russell Rulau.
Seen at right is the 4th
edition of Russell Rulau’s
“Hard Times Tokens”
based on Lyman Low’s
original 1899 publication.
This was the last edition
to use both the Low (L-#)
and Rulau’s (HT-#)
numbering system.
Hard Times Tokens Rarity Scale
R-1 = common
R-2 = less common
R-3 = Scarce
R-4 = Est. 76 to 200 pieces survive
R-5 = est. 31 – 75 pieces survive
R-6 = est. 13 to 30 pieces survive
R-7 = est. 4 to 12 pieces survive
R-8 = est. 2 to 3 pieces exist
R-9 = Unique (Only one known)
Store Cards were issued in a number of states; the
majority of them from Massachusetts, New York
and Pennsylvania. The Georgia tokens are rare!
This one issued by I. Gilbert of Augusta, GA
(28½mm) dates from 1829-1833. HT-110, R7,
(four to twelve known),
What makes the store cards portion of the Hard
Times Tokens series so interesting are the
almost limitless design types and varieties.
Some tokens portrayed famous persons
such as the Marquis de Lafayette who
had died in 1834. Others drew upon the
contemporary coinage designs’ likenesses
to the Coronet Liberty Head, Liberty
Seated and Spread Eagle. Many more
displayed an image of their product or
service while some--with less imagination
perhaps--merely asked the engraver to
inscribe words on both sides of the token
as to what they were offering.
Massachusetts Store Cards
Lafayette, a friend to America & Freedom
H M & E Richards, Attleboro, MA used
Lafayette on the obverse to call attention to
his manufacturing of jewelry .
HT-150, Low-83, R2
Robinson’s Jones & Co. Button Makers
American Institute medal award – 1833
Attleboro, Mass.
Edward Hulseman engraved this and many
other outstanding political Hard Times
Tokens; HT-154, Low-76 -1833 R1
Reorganized in 1836 as R & W. Robinson, they
had Hulseman strike this token.
An 1836 Hard Times Store Card, HT-155,
Low-104, R1 in Red Uncirculated
condition. (Rare in this grade). Notice the
curved lettering on the reverse.
S.B. SCHENCK, Attleboro, mass.
A planing machine advertised in 1834,
HT-157, Low-80, R1
Wm H. Milton of Boston, MA operated a clothier’s
warehouse in Fanueil Hall which he referred to
on his tokens. as an “extensive assortment of
fashionable ready made clothing.”
This inscription only token is a nice Red/Brown unc
piece. It was struck sometime between 1830 and
1834 and is cataloged as HT-163, Low-265, R1
Wm. H. Milton & Co. – Boston, Mass.
“Warehouse” on rev. is larger than preceding.
This later token dates from 1833 thru
1844. The lettering on the obverse is
curved.; HT-165, Low-267 R2
Alfred Willard was a wholesaler and retailer of
combs and brushes and perfumes located at
149 Washington Street in downtown Boston
An Ornate Comb
HT-171, Low 328, R1 (1835)
Francis L. Brigham was a wholesale and retail
dealer in Dry goods in New Bedford, MA.
The “Cheapside” Building took up a section of
Pleasant Street called Market Square and was
popular with shoppers. 1833 HT-176, L-73 R3
Around 1835, John J. Adams of Taunton, MA was
offering “Cash for Bristles” in order to make his
brushes. He also had an office in Boston.
Known as the Ugly Boar, the inscribed offer,
“Cash for Bristles” on the obv. was the first to
wear off on this popular token, HT-181, L-300, R1.
New Jersey Tokens
There were a number of Hard Times
tokens issued by
New Jersey
manufacturers between 1833 and 1841.
Most are scarce to rare and were either
the standard size; struck in copper (i.e.,
around 28mm), or closer to the size of a half
cent, (about 21mm to 23 mm). The three
main areas were Lakewood and Howell
near the central Jersey shore and
Belleville, located only a few miles
southwest of New York City. Obverse
motifs include a bunch of grapes, a rose, a
ship, a berry plant, an eagle and a cow.
The simple Rose Token (1835)
This token may have been used at the Howell
Works Garden store. HT-201, Low-163, R3, this
specimen has all five letters of Token showing,
not seen on the Rulau plate coin.
The 1834 Howell Works Grapes Token.
The smaller grapes token was struck in 1834.
Signum is Latin for “Sign” and implies, perhaps
meaning “a sign of good faith”, so the token may
have had value for the purchase of fruit at the
Howell Works store; HT-200, Low-81, R4
The Howell Works, (aka Monmouth Furnace) made
marine engines and was owned by James P.
Allaire where a NJ state park now stands.
The obverses of the two Howell Works
Garden tokens side by side.
The Allaire State Park in Monmouth County, NJ
contains replicas of the Howell works buildings and
offers a locomotive passenger ride to visitors.
The reverses of the Rose and Grapes Howell
Works Garden tokens side by side.
The Bergen Iron Works Tokens
This 1840 21 mm token, HT-205, Low-142, R2 was
struck in brass and used by employees at the
Bergen Iron Works store. The area is the now
the incorporated town of Lakewood, NJ.
Bergen Iron Works Store token with stars
This 1840 Bergen Iron Works store token was
also 21 mm but struck in copper. It is
distinguished by stars under the legend.
HT-205, Low-180, R4
Bergen Iron Works with circles
This 1840 Bergen Iron Works Store token is
distinguished by tiny circles in place of
stars.; HT-206, Low-143, R4
Around 1837, Tobias D. Seaman operated a
butcher shop and hotel in Bellville, NJ The first of
two store cards was crude and struck with errors.
Besides mangling the dies, the engraver
misspelled the proprietor’s name
T DUSEMAN instead of T D SEAMAN.
HT-204, Low-148, R1, Quite rare XF or better.
T. D. Seaman;
the Butcher of Belleville
The scarce NJ cow token “A Friend to the
Constitution”, HT-204-B, Low-155, R5
The Store Cards of New York State
The Hard Times tokens of the Empire
State are more numerous than any other
and many are common enough to be
collectible by those who like these large
cent size copper commemoratives. While
some are from the upstate area, Albany,
NY’s capital and Buffalo to the west, most
were struck in New York City. As a result,
many interesting token design types are
available at a modest cost to the collector.
The Plough Penny
“Speed the Plough. It feeds all”.
An 1835 Store card issued by Walsh’s
General Store, Lansingburgh, NY;
HT-216, Low-99, R1
Walsh’s General Store, located outside of Troy, NY in
Rensselear County was a fixture for 30 years. Alexander
Walsh was a friend to Senator Henry Clay and NY Gov.
Dewitt Clinton who built the Erie Canal.
He admired the Marquis de Lafayette who died in
1834 and issued this token the following year in
his honor. Lansinburgh is missing the G.
HT-218, Low-101, R1
W. A. Thomson, hardware dealer clerk with Patterson
Bros. Hardware thru 1838, opened his cutlery shop
later that year – Buffalo, NY. The Anvil token
Perhaps the largest copper Hard Times
token issued; 38mm; circa 1838-39),
HT-213, R4
W.A. Thomson – Buffalo, NY
Anvil and tea kettle, Importers of Hardware
33mm circa 1843-44, HT-214, R5, Rare!
New York City Store Cards
Henry Anderson’s Mammoth Boot of 1837
Chatham Square, NYC HT-219, Low-107 R2
CENTRE MARKET, NY, NY
The Centre Market was located in the 14th Ward,
Manhattan. Aside from a typical obverse, the
reverse shows a classical Grecian style building
inscribed CENTRE MARKET ACCOMODATION.
HT-239, L-110, R1
H. Crossman – Umbrellas – HT-243, L-112 R2
In 1837, Henry Crossman’s umbrellas store was
located at 92½ Chatham St. NYC. He had two
store cards struck, both using crude replicas of
US coin type devices; Liberty Head and Spread
Eagle with an umbrella on the reverse of each.
Henry Crossman Umbrellas
HT-244, Low-113 R2
The second store card featured a small version
of the Spread eagle obverse, somewhat similar
to John Reich’s that appeared on the reverses of
our silver coinage.
George A. Jarvis operated a wine and tea shop on
the corner of Grand & Elm Streets in lower NYC.
Many dealers placed their advertising message on
the reverse side of the Liberty Head design. This
is a nicer example showing E PLURIBUS UNUM
on the obverse inscrolled above with the 1837
date below.
HT-284, L-123 R1
S. MAYCOCK & CO.
manufactured the ever pointed pencil case.
Samuel Maycock and John Hague used the
Spread Eagle design type dated 1837
to attract customers to their shop at 35 City Hall
Place in NYC. HT-290, Low-126 R1
The Merchant’s Exchange
The Merchant Exchange had this token struck to
show that they were members of the New York
Joint Stock Exchange in 1837 with offices at
No.6 Tontine Bldg. on Wall Street.
HT-294, L-98 R1
James G. Moffet
The Moffet company operated a Sheet metal
factory at 121 Prince St., NYC. The token
dates from 1837. HT-295, L-321 R2
Phalon’s Barber Shop
Edward Phalon started out as a hairdresser in
1834 and by 1837 was already on his way to
becoming one of NYC’s most successful
barbers. HT-304, Low-127 R2
Abraham Riker’s shoe store was located at
151 Division St. in NYC.
The Riker token was struck in 1837 using a
smaller boot, shoe and slipper on the obverse
with the famed “Millions for Defense, Not one
cent…”wreath reverse. HT-305, Low-153 R1
Robert B. Ruggles – Gold Beater
Ruggles worked with gold, silver, bronze and tin
foil and made gold crowns for dentists at his
establishment located at 255 Canal St. NYC.
HT-307a, Low-273a R3
Smith’s Clock Establishment was located at
No. 7½, the Bowery, New York City in 1837.
Using a time piece and slogan, “TIME IS
MONEY”, Andrew B. Smith’s tokens are among
the more popular of Hard Times Store Cards.
There are five known varieties.
The first is catalogued HT-311, L-133, R2
Another Smith’s Clock token showing the
hour hand at left directly at 10:00. This is a
scarcer variety. HT-313, Low-134, R3
Notice the hands of each clock.
HT-311 and HT-313 obverses compared
A third Smith’s Clock variety
The obverse of this variety is similar to HT-311
but the reverse shows “establishment” with
curved lettering. HT-314, Low-135, R1
-A common variety but Uncommon in AU.
Smith Clock token reverses compared
HT-311 & 314 reverses showing
“ESTABLISHMENT”
with straight and curved lettering.
A fourth Smith Clock variety
Notice the ornamentation on the reverse of
this example. HT-315, Low-136, R1
Smith’s Clock with no ornaments and
with ornaments
HT-314 & 315 reverses compared
The fifth Smith’s Clock token variety
shows large ornaments on reverse
This final example of the five known Smith Clock
token varieties showing larger ornaments , HT317, Low 138 R2 is not that common.
Smith Clock Tokens HT-315 & 317 showing
small and large ornaments on the reverses.
C. H. Webb, Congress Hall
In 1833 and 1834, the Congress Hall was a hotel
operated by Charles H. Webb for merchants,
traders and private families. It was located at
142 Broadway, NYC HT-337, Low-392 R3
Bucklin’s Book Keeping – West Troy, NY
From 1835 to 1837 Isaac B. Bucklin, a school
teacher taught Bookkeeping along with printing
and selling Interest tables.
HT-356, Low 145, R2 (1835)
J. & C. Peck, Troy, NY
An (1835) Tin Machine
The Peck Co. were builders of cotton and
woolen machinery. HT-363, Low-171 R1
N. Starbuck & Son, Troy, NY
A Plough and Screw token
Starbuck & Son operated a machine shop
HT-368, Low-284 R2 (1835)
W. A Handy Tailor, Providence, RI
The Spread Eagle shines again on this 1834
W. A Handy store card. His wholesale-retail shop
was located on Washington Row in Providence.
HT-427, Low-78 R1
Ephraim A. Hathaway – Providence, RI
Coal Grate
In 1833, Ephraim A. Hathaway supplied anthracite
and Bituminous coal in Providence, RI.
HT-428, Low-74 R1
While the foregoing examples are far from a
complete collection of Hard Times Tokens they
represent a porthole to a past era that included
turbulent times along with numismatic variety.
The End
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Hard Times Tokens - Augusta Coin Club