Aaron Packard submitted this article about the Samuel Hart Playing Cards Tokens. Thanks!
Some Thoughts About the Samuel Hart Playing Cards Tokens
For those who are playing card aficionados, Samuel Hart is a legend in the evolution of the American playing card. Hart is credited with incorporating many advancements and innovations that have become de facto standard features of playing cards available throughout the world.
Those individuals who are interested in exploring Merchant Tokens may want to consider acquiring a few of the Samuel Hart's playing card tokens. The tokens were struck in 1850s and 1860s, and were beautifully fashioned.
There are three major varieties of the Samuel Hart playing card tokens. Two of the three major varieties are quite prolific, and are easily obtainable. Nice, high-grade examples can be had for less than $100 each.
The PA-197A and B varieties are 29mm in diameter and feature the Queen of Diamonds and Jack of Clubs. They were struck in copper and white metal respectively. The white metal variety (197B) is the least encountered variety, but high-grade examples can still be found.
The PA 195, 195A, 196, and 196A varieties are 25mm in diameter and feature a griffin's head on the obverse. Of these, the least encountered is the PA-185A struck in copper.
Pictured below are two of the PA-195 varieties in silvered brass. While they are regularly seen in various numismatic marketplaces, most often the silvering is incomplete or worn in places.
The first is typical of the silvered variety. Partial silvering is apparent.
The second is atypical of the silvered variety. Its silvering is 100%.
The third and final major variety comprises those that were struck in hard rubber/vulcanite. This series is rarely encountered and can be quite expensive to add to one's cabinet.
I have seen but only two examples in person. David Schenkman, author of the authoritative guide of Hard Rubber Tokens, has only himself seen a few more. Unlike the aforementioned varieties, for those interested in acquiring an example, my advice is to not wait when one becomes available. Be prepared to pay about $800-1000.
For those who decide to pursue acquiring examples these tokens, I recommend exercising some patience. With time, beautiful examples can be obtained without investing too much.
Thanks for a great article about some interesting tokens, On a personal note, I thought I'd add that my mother loved playing card games of all types, and my sister and I had some included on her headstone in Allegheny Cemetery in Pittsburgh,
Wayne Homren, Editor
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