The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 11, Number 28, July 13, 2008, Article 15


Tuesday evening was the meeting of my numismatic social club, Nummis Nova. We met at an Italian restaurant in Springfield, VA. Mike Packard was our host, and he picked "New uses for old coins" as the topic for the evening. I was at a loss and had nothing to bring, although later I realized that counterstamps would fit the bill.

Tom Kays came through as usual with a fascinating array of interesting altered coins, including a contemporary counterfeit $20 gold piece that had been cut down for use as a spur. Many of the pieces he displayed were Love Tokens - see below for more information and images.

Other attendees included Joe Levine, Chris Neuzil, Dave Schenkman, Roger Burdette, Wayne Herndon, Julian Leidman and Bill Eckberg. Conversation topics included the recent American Numismatic Association Summer Seminar (where Dave Schenkman taught the Civil War Numismatics class with Wendell Wolka), and the settlement of the ANA's lawsuit against former employees. Joe Levine discussed the funeral and wake of Neil McNeil, and asked whatever became of former ANA Numismatist Editor N. Neil Harris (does anybody know?).

After the meeting I asked Tom Kays if he could send us images of some of the love tokens he displayed, and these are shown below. Tom writes:
People made love tokens to honor “hatches, matches, dispatches or snatches”

1) 1662 English Crown of Charles II with engraved “dispatch” on the obverse, in this case what is likely a ship's death medal for “Polly Buller – Age 9 years – July 14, 1778” and also the name “J Birks”.

1778 Ship's Death token (Obverse) 1778 Ship's Death token (Reverse)

2) English or Irish half penny with engraved “match” on both sides, a fanciful balloon and “Richard Clift – Amelia Spectal 1787.” May their love ascend aloft to the heavens as dainty as a hot air balloon.

1787 Match token (Obverse) 1787 Match token (Reverse)

3) English half penny of George I with script initials in a cartouche “JB” and “1812”. This may be a remembrance of a “snatch” or leave taking for some extended time. Prisoners sentenced to transportation to faraway places like Virginia or Botany Bay sometimes left low denomination love tokens made in gaol while awaiting transport, as remembrances, having had lots of time to kill

The following article highlights one such product of a Botany Bay convict with time on his hands. -Editor

1812 Snatch token (Obverse) 1812 Snatch token (Reverse)

4) 1871 US Quarter Dollar with deep engraving in the style of a Pennsylvania Hex sign. Julian quipped that this was no way to treat a “CC” quarter as he could see some indication of the mint mark. He made me look!

1871 Quarter Hex design (Obverse) 1871 Quarter Hex design (Reverse)

On Friday my family and I made a trip to Baltimore with visiting relatives. Baltimore being the site of the upcoming ANA convention, you could consider it a numismatic scouting trip. If you're looking for coins outside of the convention hall, here's a hint: take the walkway across the street from the Inner Harbor mall to The Gallery mall. Along the wall is a nice display of early artifacts, and the exhibit includes some coins.

The Inner Harbor area of Baltimore was as lovely as always, with quite a bit of sights and activities for visitors. We took the "duck" tour on an amphibious vehicle, first driving around town then boating around the harbor. One sight is the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Taney, which is docked in the harbor and available for tours. The Taney and its crew were the first to engage Japanese attackers at Pearl Harbor in 1941.

I thought it interesting to be passing the last surviving ship from the start of the U.S. involvement in World War II while floating by on a vessel built for service on D-Day, the beginning of the end of the war in Europe. The "duck" vehicles now serving to ferry happy tourists were built to ferry troops to Omaha Beach in the Invasion of Normandy. Many of those troops didn't live til lunchtime on June 6, 1944, and here we were on one of those boats blowing duckbill-shaped quacking noisemakers. I just couldn't get fully in the mood to party, but my family had fun. But I guess that's what freedom's all about, though.

On Sunday we made another excursion, this time to Washington, D.C. It was just my wife and I and our three kids. We drove past the Lincoln, Washington and Jefferson Memorials, then found parking in a garage near the National Archives. The National Museum of American History, where the National Numismatic Collection was displayed for years was still closed for renovations.

We went to the National Museum of Natural History. On the first floor I spotted a large piece of Yap Stone money along with an Easter Island statue. We visited the dinosaur and mineral halls, making sure to see the Hope Diamond.

Afterwards we walked through the nearby National Sculpture Garden, then down the street to catch views of the Capitol rotunda and Washington Monument. We almost went into the National Archives, but with a 45+ minute wait and three tired kids, we just headed home to Virginia. On the way out we caught a view of the White House. Washington D.C. never ceases to fascinate me - it's well worth a side trip following the ANA convention in Baltimore.

Wayne Homren, Editor

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