The E-Sylum:  Volume 10, Number 2, January 14, 2007, Article 18


The Times-Union of Albany, NY picked up on the recent Heritage sale
of the Troy Wiseman Albany Church Penny and published an article on
Thursday, January 11:

"When is a penny worth more than a penny? When it is worth $64,000,
plus a 15 percent buyer premium. That is what an original Albany
church penny sold for last week after receiving international exposure
on eBay.

"The cloudy-looking 217-year-old copper coin reads "D Church Penny"
on one side and the other is smooth and blank.

"The Rev. Glenn Leupold, co-pastor of the First Presbyterian Church,
said the penny functioned as sort of a church offering gift certificate.

'It was a coin you could put on the offering plate that represented
an amount you had already given to the church in advance,' he said.
'If I said I was going to give a dollar a week, which was a lot of
money back then, I would put in one of these coins.'

"As for Leupold, he's only half joking when he says he'll scour the
State Street church to see if there are any more of the pennies around.
It would be unlikely: The church has moved at least twice since it
was founded in 1763.

'This is reminder, as I sit here worrying about what is best for this
church in the next five years, of just how long rooted this
congregation is,' Leupold said."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

To view the Heritage lot description, see: Heritqge Lot Description

[The catalog description echoes portions of the Breen Encyclopedia
entry on the Albany Church Penny, summarizing that "The purpose of
the Albany pieces remains unknown. Nothing is known, either, of the
issuer or of the manufacturer of the Albany Penny. Perhaps it is
better said that the maker is forgotten. As well, it is presumed
that these tokens were of local manufacture, for so they appear by
their texture. That they were used, however, is evident. All of the
few known pieces are quite worn..."

We bibliophiles hate to take "nothing is known" as our final answer.
The cataloger may not know anything more about the piece, and we may
not either, but we do know that surely SOMEone, SOMEwhere, SOMEtime
in the past two centuries has recorded SOMEthing of interest.

The Times-Union article was far more specific, noting that "1,000 or
so" were initially minted.  I was unable to find this mintage figure
in Breen, but did find it in a great article by Howard R. Kurth in the
April 1944 issue of The Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine (p284-9).  The
article was based on a presentation to the Albany Numismatic Society
and cites an 1850 work by Joel Munsell titled 'The Annals of Albany',
where it is recorded that "on the 4th of January 1790 the Trustees of
the First Presbyterian Church resolved that one thousand coppers be
stamped 'Church Penny' and placed in the hands of the treasurer, for
the purpose of exchanging with the congregation at the rate of twelve
for one shilling, in order to add respect to the weekly collections."
The circulating coinage of the day in Albany consisted primarily of
"coins from other states, bungtown tokens, and old British halfpennies
mostly worn smooth or counterfeit."

This background enabled me to make some sense of the coin's image
(found on both the Times-Union and Heritage web sites).  The central
portion of the design is deep, consistent with the counterstamping of
a host coin.  Around the outer edges of the host coin are the
difficult-to-read but readily apparent remnants of inscriptions.
These could be the legitimately worn inscriptions of the host coin
or the intentionally "worn-looking" devices of an evasion copper.
These heavily worn (and worn-looking) pieces were quite plentiful
in circulation at the time, making a ready supply of planchets for

The Kurth article references several Numismatist articles of 1936
and 1939, and discusses the specimens owned by leading collectors
including Mickley and Bushnell.  The Numismatic Indexes Project (NIP),
where I located the Scrapbook article reference, also lists a number
of related articles in The Colonial Newsletter.  -Editor]

  Wayne Homren, Editor

Google Web
The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization 
promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at

To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor 
at this address:

To subscribe go to:
Copyright © 2005 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.



Copyright © 1998 - 2005 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS)
All Rights Reserved.

NBS Home Page
Contact the NBS webmaster