Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for August 5th, 2008

Hard Time Tokens are Alive and DOING WELL! The Dice-Hicks’ Collection Part I (7-28-08)

Numismatics is enjoying an absolutely astonishing time despite the down turn in the economy.  Just one simple point to be made here and that is, the rare become increasingly rare and there you have the enigma to this market! 

This last week, Stacks offered the James E. Dice and M. Lamar Hicks collection of Hard Time and Merchant Tokens.  This is indeed a very unique collection in many ways, not the least of which was the fact that the two gentlemen built the collected as a team.  How did this strategy work?  Just take a look at the catalogue and admire the rarities they managed to assemble and the answer is pretty impressive.  I have often heard individuals describe the rarity of a coin as one that only comes across the auction block every 5-10 years (certainly on way of looking at it) but, read on if you really what to know what the true meaning of rarity is in numismatics.

 Also keep in mind the great social and financial significance these Hard Time tokens represent.  Hard Times tokens were issued due to an unusual period in the financial history of the United States and one that was not to be unique!

 

Just a bit of history:  In President Andrew Jackson’s 1832 campaign for reelection (served from 1829 until 1837), he was passionately opposed to the Second Bank of the United States due to what he considered fraud and corruption in this powerful institution.  Jackson had the bank investigated and concluded that the investigation established beyond doubt that the bank had been actively engaged in attempting to influence the elections of the public officers by means of its money.”. 

The Second Bank of the United States had been chartered in 1816, five years after the expiration of the First Bank of the United States.  The Second Bank was founded after the War of 1812 when it was realized that without a national bank (the charter on the first bank was allowed to lapse) it would be impossible to fund another war such as the one just fought.  It was also founded out of desperation to stabilize the currency during the administration of President James Madison.  The Second Bank of the United States was located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and was said by opponents to control the money supply in favor of the wealthy merchants as mentioned above.  The bank issued its own currency, quickly became the most stable paper money supply in the land and did exercised considerable control over credit and interest rates throughout the country.

When Jackson was reelected President he did manage to abolish the bank despite opposition from Henry Clay who tried to extend it’s charter for an additional four years.  The bank was always a privately owned institution and lost its Federal charter in 1836 and ceased operations in 1841.  While attempting to close the bank, the president of the bank, Nicholas Biddle, tightened the money supply which resulted in a financial panic.  While other banks issued paper money, they did so with little or no gold or silver backing and quickly failed.  By 1837 over 100 banks had failed and the small change necessary for everyday commerce began to disappear.  

Merchants began to issue tokens to provide a means for the public to deal with this small change shortage.  It is no surprise to any student of these historic tokens the frequent and almost common political or satirical nature of these issues, much like the satire found on the Conder tokens that were used in England during the late 18th century. 

The tokens of the period 1832-1844, during the time when Jackson, Van Buren and John Tyler served as president are classified as the Hard Time issues. During this time America entered a depression, many banks were forced to close, and legions of people lost their savings. 

 

Some Highlights from the Auction:

 

Lot 3125 was certainly one of the top prizes in the Dice-Hick’s collection.  It was a Huckel, Burrows & Jennings, 1836, brass, Merchant Token (Low 102) with a R7+ rarity rating (suggesting as few as four being known).  It is the only St. Louis, Missouri Token in the Hard Time Series and therein resides it desirability and very unique position within the series.  Huckel, Burrows & Jennings were Dealers in Groceries and “Choice Wine”.  It would be interesting to know the kinds of wine and where they likely came from during this historical period.  Maybe there is a wine expert out there that can help us!

This company was also in the business of serving as a “Boat Store and Ship Chandlery” and was located on Main Street in Saint Louis.  What a unique piece of Early American History.

The coin was graded choice almost uncirculated.  Considerable mint luster remained in the protected areas as described in the catalogue write up.  A second example of this token exists in the American Numismatic Societies collection.  As the present token has made two of the 3 or 4 auction appearances during the last 100 years, this was truly the chance of a life time for some astute collector to add such a historically significant and desirable token to ones collection.

The Huckel, Burrows & Jennings Merchant Token sold for $80,500, (including the buyers’ fee).  On June 23, 2004, this exact token sold at auction, by Stacks as Part IV of the John J. Ford collection, for $60,375 (including the buyers’ fee).  The pedigree of this coin extends back to F.C.C. Boyd, New Netherlands Rare Coin Company, Horace Louis Philip Brand and Virgil M. Brand. 

The Huckel, Burrows & Jennings Merchant Token: A TRUE NUMISMATIC RARITY SIMPLY DEFINED BY IT MERE EXISTANCE AND NOTABLE PEDIGREE.

To view this lot please go to this link.

More highlights to come.

Thanks for Visiting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »