Hard Times Tokens (1832-1844) Part 1_Political

Hard Times Tokens
Part One – Political Tokens
1832 to 1844
Hard Times tokens were so named
because a majority of them were issued
in the US during the “Era of Hard Times”
that began with the “Panic of 1837”
ending in 1843.
Specifically, the Hard Times tokens
themselves represented a slightly longer
period that lasted from 1832 through 1844 in
which mostly copper tokens--about the size
of the large cent; (i.e. 27mm to 29mm)--were
privately struck for individuals who wished
to make their political feelings known or
who had something to sell.
The series may therefore be grouped into
two categories; political tokens and
advertising store cards.
An example of a political token attacking
Andrew Jackson’s fiscal policies showing the
sword and the purse in the same hands.
Advertising tokens were known as “store cards”
even though they were usually struck in copper.
An example of a advertisement token showing an Eagle
surrounded by 13 stars dated 1837 on the obv. with
type of goods, proprietor and address on the rev.
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)
Seeds of the Panic of 1837
Andrew Jackson
The 1830’s under President
Andrew Jackson became a
period of increasing westward expansion followed
by tremendous economic
growth. Construction of
railroads and canals were
accompanied by land speculation, much of it supported by bank notes not backed by gold and silver.
What brought about the Panic of 1837?
President Andrew Jackson was unhappy with
the way the Second Bank of the United States
managed the nation’s money supply believing it
favored the interests of the rich. The bank’s
president Nicholas Biddle, who looked down on
Jackson’s folksy ways, challenged the
president’s power by applying to renew the
bank’s charter for a 15 year term in 1832, some
four years before it was to lapse. Though
approved by Congress, Jackson successfully
vetoed the measure and in the same year
soundly defeated Henry Clay in the general
Andrew Jackson was highly controversial
during his two terms as President (1829-1837).
Andrew Jackson
Satirized as King Andrew the First
Nicholas Biddle
President of the Bank of the US
Running Boar
The Running Boar token was struck by opponents
of Andrew Jackson who preferred easier credit
through paper money over hard currency.
HT-9, Low-8 R1
Direct causes of the “Panic of 1837”
After the election Jackson proceeded to withdraw
all federal funds from the Bank of the United States
depositing them in state banks; many of which turned
out to be unreliable. Jackson followed this with his
famed Specie Circular of July 11, 1836 requiring
banks to “accept nothing but gold or silver coin for
the sale of public lands”. During the election
campaign of 1836, Jackson’s heir apparent, Martin
Van Buren won on the slogan, “I follow in the steps
of my illustrious predecessor”, a statement that
would haunt him when the already weakened banks
suspended specie payments on May 10, 1837. Within
weeks hundreds of banks failed and the six year
Depression known as the Era of Hard Times” began.
“ I follow in the footsteps of my illustrious
(from Martin Van Buren’s inaugural address.)
Henry Clay
Martin Van Buren
A Cartoon showing the financial and moral
chaos brought on by the Panic of 1837
Political Hard Times Tokens
A Plain System…”The constitution as I understand
it” A satirical token depicting Jackson
brandishing a sword and purse with a donkey
displaying Doctor of Laws. HT-25, Low-12, R1
HT-67 1837
Jackson is portrayed popping out of a
‘Jack’ in the box’ or safe symbolizing the
US Treasury. The reverse shows a Ship
(of State) foundering with the inscription
“Van Buren and metallic currency”
During the Era of Hard Times the standard
cent bore the Coronet Liberty design
An 1837 Coronet Liberty Cent
Popular motifs from the then current Coronet Cent
and silver coin reverses were often incorporated
on to the obverses of Hard Times tokens
An 1837 Coronet Liberty Cent alongside a
Hard Times token showing a Female head obv.
The reverse of the 1837 Coronet cent
alongside the reverse of a Hard
times token bearing the often seen
Millions for Defense…
The phrase, “Millions for defense, not
one cent for tribute” appeared around
1785 in a dispute between the young USA
and North African rulers who demanded a
substantial bribe for payment to allow the
the Barbary Pirates to release US
hostages held in Tripoli. On Hard Times
tokens, “the reverse legend MILLIONS
TRIBUTE “was a means to combine
patriotic sentiments with a denial of
legal tender.”
More Political HT Tokens
Tortoise carrying safe, “SUB TREASURY”, Fiscal
Agent, Executive financiering; running Jackass,
“I follow in the footsteps…all anti Jackson
sentiments ” HT-34, L-20 R1
The upright Ship portrayed the sound money
principles of Daniel Webster while the foundering
ship (at right) symbolized Van Buren’s failure at
getting the nation out of the Depression.
Webster-1841, Van Buren-1837
HT-20, Low-62 R1
While not as convincing as Scot or Reich’s Liberty
heads, some HT engravers’ efforts were more
successful than others.
This 1837 dated HT token shows the Female
Head and the “NOT ONE CENT…” in an
attempt to replicate the standard cent coin of the
period. HT-48, Low-33 R1. These cost anywhere
from 6/10 to 8/10 of 1¢ to produce.
This is an example of a crude replication of the
“Liberty” head. It is a scarcer variety.
Another 1837 LIBERTY – NOT ONE CENT,
catalogued as HT-36, Low-22 R3, 24.2 mm.
During the Hard Times period, some
merchants would accept these tokens for 1¢ in
value towards goods.
Daniel Webster was a staunch supporter of
the Bank of the United States
This token catalogued as HT-23, Low-65, R4 is in
support of Webster’s view of sound credit and
currency; (i.e., paper money). It happens to be a
scarce variety..
Another HT token in support of Webster’s fiscal
views. Like the previous example this one
The ship motif referred to “Ship of State” sailing
smoothly on the sea symbolizing sound fiscal
judgment regarding the nation’s Credit and
Currency HT-17, Low-64, R1.
Thomas Hart Benton, Senator from Missouri took
the Jacksonian position favoring “hard money” as
opposed to “shinplasters”, the epithet for
worthless paper money.
An anti Benton token opposing Bentonian “hard” currency.
Referring this to a “mint drop”. HT—62, Low-38
Senate adversaries
Daniel Webster
Pro Bank of US
Thomas Hart Benton
Anti Bank of US
A Phoenix Rising from the Ashes
One of the more popular HT token motifs
indicating “paper money was only fit to be
burned”. The slogan, “Substitute for Shinplasters” refers to an over abundance of
worthless paper money HT-56, Low 45, R1.
May the 10th, 1837
Another example of the Phoenix obverse but with
the May 10th reverse; the date New York banks
suspended specie payments resulting in the
failure of over 600 banks plunging the nation
deeper into Depression. HT-66, Low-47 R1.
There were four Phoenix obverses
muled to two different reverses
Another almost exact example with subtle
differences. HT-67, Low-48, R1
These two reverses were made from different dies
The reverses of HT-66 & 67. Note how the
alignments of the leaves differ in relation to the
inscription around the edges.
Loco Focos were a term for matches.
On Oct. 29, 1835 in preparation for a Democratic
Party meeting in Tammany Hall located in NYC,
one faction who wanted to see their candidate
nominated arranged for the gas to be turned off
in the building. The other faction apparently got
wind of this scheme and brought Loco foco
matches and candles to illuminate the hall and
succeeded in nominating their candidate. For a
time the Democratic Party became nicknamed
the Loco Focos as a result. The satirical Hard
Time token on the next slide was struck in 1838.
The Tammany Hall HT Token
Another distorted version of Miss Liberty also
known as the 1838 Loco Foco token,
HT-63,Low-55, R1 29mm
The Depression continued into the 1840 Election
campaign. Van Buren ran for reelection but was
defeated by William Henry Harrison.
An 1840 Campaign HT token depicting Martin Van
Buren, holed at 12:00 as struck.
HT-75, Low-56, R2
In the election campaign of 1840 Henry Clay again
ran for President but lost the nomination to fellow
Whig candidate William Henry Harrison who
defeated Van Buren in the general election .
A campaign Hard Times token on behalf of
Whig Party presidential candidate Henry
Clay HT-79, Low-192 R2 (1840)
William Henry Harrison
The hero of Tippecanoe
was the Whig candidate
William Henry Harrison
who first ran for President
in 1836 but lost to Van Buren.
Four years later, partly due
to his legend, but more
likely, the economic conditions he defeated the
Incumbent in 1840
Am I Not A Woman or a Sister?
An abolitionist token depicting a kneeling
female slave struck in 1838.
HT-81, Low-54, R1
Am I Not a Man or a Brother?
This token was actually struck in the 1790’s as a British
Trade token (Middlesex Conder Token D&H-1037)
displaying anti-slavery sentiment. In 1838 the male
obverse was reused but instead of the hands on the
reverse, the wreath shown on the previous token was
inserted. It Is extremely rare.
Am I Not a Man or a Brother?
One of the rarest of Hard Times token, HT-82,
Low-54a, (R8 if genuine). The photograph
however is a composite taken from the obverse
of the previous British Conder piece and the
reverse of the female hard times token.
The origin of the Beehive token is
unknown but it definitely dates
from the Hard Times era
Obv. Beehive, 1838 “By industry we hope to
Prosper”, Rev. Wreath, “Wisdom and
prosperity combined.” H-83, Low-194 R2
After 1836 the half cent was suspended for a number of
years. A private engraver named Edward Hulseman issued
this hard times half cent token in 1837.
An 1837 ½¢ Hard Times Token featured a
Spread Eagle (a la engraver John Reich) on the
obverse with a wreath surrounded by thirteen
stars with the inscription HALF CENT WORH OF
COPPER. It is listed as HT-73, Low-49 R2 23mm.
There are many other examples of Hard Times
tokens representing political views; some which
are extremely rare and valuable.
Female Head/ May 10th, HT-65, Low-40 R2
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