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The E-Sylum: Volume 19, Number 8, February 21, 2016, Article 15

ARTICLE CITES FOREIGN COINS CIRCULATING IN NEW YORK IN 1857

Julia Purdy writes:

I was doing some research and came across this article from the New York Daily Tribune, Wednesday, August 12, 1857. I don't know if this has already been found / published somewhere by another researcher but wanted to pass it along because I thought perhaps the readers of The E-Sylum would enjoy it.

Thanks! Julia kindly transcribed the article for us. -Editor

NewYork1857Coins5 The amount of foreign copper coins circulating in this city must be very large; and one great argument in favor of the new cent which appears to stand in need of argument in its favor is that it would drive these bogus pennies out of circulation. The copper is the poor man’s coin, by which, no doubt he is cheated, but by virtue of which he is able to purchase even at the expense of being cheated. There is an inevitable swindle in buying by the cent’s worth, to which, perhaps, the seller is compelled, and to which the buyer is obliged to submit. But neither party should be obliged to submit to swindles, which, small as they may seem, have a relative magnitude compared even with greater transactions. A poor woman, buying her family food for the next day, may feel the deficit of a spurious coin passed upon her more keenly than a Wall street broker, sometimes losing a thousand a day, would be able to comprehend. Now, let us see what sort of copper coin is in circulation in NewYork. The following is a list of the foreign copper coins taken by a person in this city in two weeks, and in the course of his regular trading with shopmen:

1. Bank Token (Halfpenny) of the Bank of Montreal, in the Province of Canada. This is a very fresh and handsome coin, and is worth about a third less than the United States copper cent.

2. Bank Token (Un Sou) of Lower Canada a handsome coin worth about a third less than our copper cent.

3. Bank Token (Un Sou, or half penny) of Lower Canada, of the coinage of 1837 a little more worn than the preceding, and worth about a third less than our copper cent.

4. Irish Halfpenny, of the coinage of George III with the figure of Britannia upon one side and the effigy of his Majesty upon the other. This coin bears date of 1805, and is worth about one half less than an unworn United States copper cent.

5. Irish Halfpenny, of the coinage of George III, with the monarch upon the one side and the harp upon the other. The date of this coin cannot be distinguished, but is hardly worth more than one half of our copper cent.

6. Large penny, either Irish or English, but worn smooth. It is probably worth, as metal, a little more than our copper cent.

7. The wellknown coin, “Ein Kreutzer,” worth a little less than half our copper cent. These are of various descriptions. German swindlers are in the habit of importing them in large quantities, and of paying them out at the value of one United States cent. They are small, and in copper does not appear to be of very good quality.

8. The Danish “Skilling.” This is not very common. It is generally very much worn, and is worth less by a half than our copper cent.

There may be other foreign copper coins in circulation. These we have now before us. They are either brought here by emigrants, or are imported for the express purpose of circulating them at a profit. We have reason to believe that a large business is done in the latter sort of enterprise.

It is a remarkable fact, that though one often received these coins over a counter, there is always a great and decided difficulty in paying them back again. These coins before us were all taken in respectable shops, and have all been refused in the same sites of traffic. Why not take from the emigrant all the copper coins in his possession, paying him their full metal value? Why not prosecute, with the utmost rigor of the law, those who make a business of importing this spurious currency?



Wayne Homren, Editor

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