Web site visitor Lorne Bair asks about an interesting piece if Labor Exchange currency.
I'm an antiquarian bookseller in Winchester, Virginia, researching an item somewhat out of my field. I'm hoping you might help to point me in a useful direction for further research. I found your name through a series of brief blog-posts you wrote for the Numismatic Bibliomania website back in 2006, on the subject of labor exchange notes.
The item in question is a labor note issued by Josiah Warren's utopian community ("Modern Times") on Long Island, New York, in 1857. As you may know, Warren is generally considered the first American anarchist and, as a follower of Robert Owen, issued labor notes at various times in his career, beginning with his partnership with Owen at New Harmony, Indiana; later through his Labor Mercantile in Cincinnati; and finally for use within his utopian community at Modern Times [now Brentwood] New York.
As a bookseller, I specialize in American social history and in particular in the literature of American communal societies - so this currency is of particular interest to me (and, potentially, to my customers!). Notes like this are certainly well-known in the literature, but to my surprise, in fifteen years of specializing in this subject, I've never encountered another example - nor have any of my colleagues. But I'm also aware that the worlds of numismatics and bibliophily only occasionally intersect, and it's entirely possible that such notes are far less exotic in your world than they are in mine.
Lorne wondered if I'd encountered other examples of Warren's labor exchange currency, knew of any examples selling at auction in the past twenty or so years, or had any references to recommend.
I hadn't seen any of these before, and am not aware of any reference books. An NIP index search turned up an article by Waldo C. Moore in the August 1932 issue of The Numismatist titled "Labor Exchange Movement". It's a short article and doesn't list his note. There is also an article titled "Labor Exchange Notes" in the September 1959 issue of Numismatic Scrapbook magazine. I don't have this issue handy.
Looking through my own library I found a nice group of Labor Exchange notes offered in the Smythe sales of the Herb & Martha Schingoethe Obsolete Currency collection - Part 9, December 12-13, 2006. Warren's notes were not listed, however.
Knowing that if anyone has a good answer to Lorne's question it's probably an E-Sylum reader, I recommended publishing his questions here. Can anyone help? I'm curious to learn more myself.
Wayne Homren, Editor
The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization
promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at coinbooks.org.
To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor
at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
To subscribe go to: https://my.binhost.com/lists/listinfo/esylum
Copyright © 1998 - 2020 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS)
All Rights Reserved.
NBS Home Page
Contact the NBS webmaster