John and Nancy Wilson submitted this review of Whitman's new A Guide Book of Civil War Tokens. Thanks!
A Guide Book of Civil War Tokens “The Official Red Book,” History – Values – Rarities, Author Q. David Bowers, Foreword by Fred L. Reed, Reminiscence by Dr. George Fuld, Whitman Publishing, LLC, Atlanta, GA, 2013, Reviewed by John and Nancy Wilson, NLG
This guide book was recently released by Whitman Publishing, LLC, at the August, 2013 ANA World’s fair of Money, in Rosemont, IL. This is Volume 16 in the Bowers Series. The soft cover 448 page 6 x 9” reference has over 2000 photos. The book is the result of a lifetime of interest and study by Mr. Bowers in Civil War tokens since 1958; when Dr. Fuld offered him thousands of Uncirculated CWTs for $1 each. In the Reminiscence Dr. Fuld “recalls buying the D. C. Wismer collection in 1951 – a massive group of 11,000 Civil War Tokens – for 6 cents each!”
Dave Bowers has brought to the numismatic community one of the most important references released in many years, this Guide Book of Civil War Tokens. Much of the information contained in this new reference came from the 1972, Second Edition, George and Melvin Fuld, U. S. Civil War Store Cards standard reference which contained over 600 pages. That 1972 reference is long out of print, but due to great demand the Civil War Token Society (CWTS) has reprinted it. It is available from the society at: http://www.cwtsociety.com/. The Civil War Token Society is working to update the Fuld reference which hopefully will be released in 2014.
Though Mr. Bowers used information from the 1972 Fuld reference, he has “gone far and beyond” what was contained in that book. In his great style of writing he made many corrections and additions for this new book, including prices. All the Fuld numbers are used in this reference for Patriotic and Civil War Tokens (Store cards.) Within the pages of this important reference it has an introduction, seven chapters, five appendixes, credits & acknowledgments, and an index.
Chapter 1. Overview and Key to Using This Book. You will learn that these tokens were issued between 1861 and 1865 in various metals, numismatic strikes, how many die combinations were made, and the CWT suggested size that a CWT has to be, if it will be “official.” Information on Civil War Patriotic & Store Cards will be found along with the metals used and rarities.
Chapter 2. Before the Civil War. The North and South differences are explained and a discussion about early collectors such as Sage, Bushnell, Woodward and others along with interesting stories on CWTs and early cataloging and sales is covered. John Stanton’s tokens are explained along with the November (1860) Presidential Election. A Broadside published in South Carolina has information on when “exactly” the South seceded from the USA.
Chapter 3. Money of the Civil War. Twenty-eight pages of information on all the money that would have been in use from early 1861 through 1865. CWTs are also covered. The author also covers before and after Fort Sumter, Bull Run, Forts Henry and Donelson.
Chapter 4. Civil War Tokens and The History of Collecting Them. An explanation of the timeline of collecting interest for CWTs and the persons who were involved. Two great 1863 newspaper accounts talk about collectors and “tradesmen’s tokens” and “store cards.” The first known cataloging of CWTs was done by Pliny E. Chase. Information regarding him and the seven different classes of tokens he identified is given. Biographies of great collectors such as Levick, Groh, Idell and Heath are given. The Hetrich-Guttag 1924 “Civil War Tokens and Tradesmen’s Card” reference was the first book on the subject. How the Civil War Token Society was formed in 1967 is explained.
Chapter 5. Aspects of Collecting Civil War Tokens. Explanations of, Ways to Collect, Patriotic CWTs & Civil War Store Cards, The Marketplace and Grading, Being a Smart Buyer, Dealers and Other Sellers, Enjoying your Civil War Token Collection, Directories, the Internet, and Other Sources, Auction Catalogs, Price Lists, and Numismatic References, and Myths and Legends, Diameters and Striking Considerations, Studying Die States, Focus on the Styles Used by Several Shops, Studying Numerals, Letters, and Stars, New Discoveries, and the Tokens of Yankee Robinson are all part of this chapter.
Chapter 6. Patriotic Civil War Tokens. The 108 pages in this chapter cover these important tokens. The last reference on Patriotic Civil War Tokens was a Fourth Revised Edition in 1982, by The Civil War Token Society and authored by George and Melvin Fuld. That edition was updated in 2007 and this 5th Edition is now available from the Civil War Token Society at their web site. Mr. Bowers utilized the numbering system from that reference in his book. The 2007 Fuld reference only had an average price for rarities and the Bowers reference lists all the prices individually for the pieces along with their rarities. The firms and individuals who were involved in the issues are covered thoroughly. The two main classes of Patriotic CWTs with six pages of enlarged color photos are given. Patriotic civil war token varieties are next and all 537 die varieties are fully illustrated in color with prices given for several different grades and rarities.
Chapter 7. Civil War Store Cards. The main features of this reference are the Civil War Store Cards, which will be covered in the next 404 pages. There are many updates and corrections from the Fuld book of 1982. A new state, Louisiana, has been added and though it is a counter-stamped coin it was issued during the Civil War period. This will be a true rarity if you collect them by state like we do and everyone wants one. Though it is only an R-7 with 11 - 20 known the demand will quickly outstrip the supply. Cities and merchants have been delisted (or actually changed states) and might now be non-contemporary (not issued during the 1861 - 1865 period). At least one Wisconsin CWT that was listed in the Fuld reference will be listed in the new Fuld book when it is published as non-contemporary. It is a WI 510D Best & Co.
With all the states, towns and merchants listed (many illustrated in color), along with current market values and rarities, we have used our reference extensively for purchases. This reference is very valuable to us as we collect all the merchants from WI (one of each with Milwaukee complete), one from each state (completed), and are attempting to get one each from all the cities that issued them (totaling about 400). This city set will never be completed because one city has only one merchant and two pieces from that merchant with one piece in a museum. Several other cities are very rare with few CWTs known. The idea to collect by city was given to us by the author of this book, Q. David Bowers. For the reader of this review the selling or buying of one Civil War Token would pay for this reference multiple times. Being the size of a Red Book of U. S. Coins, this reference is easy to carry and use. To us and probably many other collectors and dealers, this reference is priceless and very valuable as we pursue that CWT that will help us to complete our collection.
Appendix I. Selected Civil War Token Engravers and Coiners. If you ever wondered who the people were who issued these tokens this chapter covers them all. From, C. Barkley, Die Sinker NYC who in 1863 advertised “Copper Tokens, Checks & Medals forwarded promptly by express to all parts, in any quantity and at the lowest prices;” to J. G. Wilson of NYC.
Appendix II. Locations Unknown Civil War Store Cards. Maybe you could help locate one of the 20 different businesses or merchants listed on the page? They are all believed to have issued CWTs, but their location is needed.
Appendix III. Fuld Numbers Now Non-Contemporary. The one page listing has Fuld numbers assigned to them in the second edition, but in the third edition will be given NC (Non-Contemporary) designations. The WI 510D is listed here in this new Bowers reference.
Appendix IV. Non-Contemporary Store Cards, By Issuer. The four page listing has Civil War era issues now classified as having been made before April, 1861 or after 1865. Another useful section that gives you a head start with knowledge before the new Third Edition by George and Melvin Fuld is released sometime in the future. If you can prove that any of these is actually a CWT, you can notify the CWTS with the information.
Appendix V. Encased Postage Stamps of 1862. This section gives you a brief overview of what they are along with information and rarities of the issuers. They were issued in denominations from one cent to 90 cents.
About the Author, Credits and Acknowledgments and the Index. Information on the author and the numismatists and institutions that helped him with this reference will be listed. The acknowledgments and index is helpful to researchers.
We would like to pay tribute and dedicate our review to two great numismatists that are no longer with us. The first is Dr. George J. Fuld, who co-authored the 1972 Second Edition of A Guide Book of Civil War Storecards. He did the Reminiscence for this reference we are reviewing. The next is our good friend Stephen L. Tanenbaum, who was killed on the streets of Brooklyn, NY in 2011 at the age of 62. Over the years we had purchased many tokens from Steve’s bourse table. He was always fair and honest in all his transactions with us. We also bid against each other at several auction sales over the years. We had always thought he was purchasing the items for customers and had no idea that he was purchasing most of the lots for himself. Since his passing, we can see that he was one of the greatest collectors of Civil War Tokens of all time. He was an officer, hard worker and researcher for the Civil War Token Society. His loss was felt not only by his family and all the members of the CWTS but his many dealer and collector friends in the numismatic hobby. With Steve’s passing, many ultra-rare CWTs have come into the market place in very high grades. We have purchased some of his CWTs through the listings of Q. David Bowers and Stephen Hayden.
We enjoyed doing this review and think it will be another best seller for Whitman Publishing; and come in second for sales next to the annual Guide Book of U. S. Coins now in its 67th Edition (2014). The knowledge and research abilities of the author, Q. David Bowers is astonishing. His writing style is excellent and his references are laid out in an easy to read and interesting manner. We recommend this book to everyone who has an interest in the Civil War and the financial tokens that were issued during that period.
This Official Red Book – A Guide Book of Civil War Tokens is available from the publisher for $24.95. They can be contacted at: Whitman Publishing LLC, 3101 Clairmont Rd., Suite G., Atlanta, GA. 30329, Phone Number (800) 546-2995 or www.whitmanbooks.com
Wayne Homren, Editor
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