In an article in the 2012-09-03 issue of Coin World Dave Bowers discusses one of his (and my) favorite numismatic characters, showman Yankee Robinson. Here's an excerpt.
Yankee Robinson is one of my favorite numismatic characters. I first “met” him in the late 1950s when as a teenager I became fascinated with Civil War tokens.
One curious example, worth perhaps a dollar then ($20 to $40 for an Extremely Fine example now) showed a man wearing a stovepipe hat and carrying a gun, with the inscription, YANKEE ROBINSON / THE GREAT SHOWMAN.
The reverse proclaimed YANKEE ROBINSON’S BIG SHOW and had a finger pointing to “Triad,” a triangle with PRESENT, FUTURE and PAST around the triangle’s edges.
A fan of circuses, I knew of Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey, of course, and had seen them under canvas on a couple of occasions.
But Yankee Robinson? Who was he?
In the 1990s I determined to learn more about him. I read through old copies of the New York Clipper trade magazine, found some advertisements in 19th century papers, and made a fortunate contact with Fred Dahlinger, historian at the Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wis.
It turned out that the museum had a large file of articles on the “great comedian” and his show. When I wrote More Adventures with Rare Coins in 2002, I included a large chapter on Yankee.
Numismatists today can collect more than a dozen varieties of his Civil War tokens. In addition, in 1854 and 1855 he counterstamped many thousands (probably) of half dollars with FREE TICKET TO / YANKEE / ROBINSONS / QUADRUPLE SHOW.
Anyone getting one of the coins in change of course had a “free ticket,” but the half dollar had to be left behind at the show entrance!
To read the complete article, see:
Yankee Robinson: Showman on coins, tokens
Wayne Homren, Editor
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