An new book by Chris Faulkner on the Upper Canada Coppers has been published by Spink. -Editor
Christopher Faulkner. Coins Are Like Songs: The Upper Canada Coppers, 1815-1841. London: Spink, 2017. xxi, 418 pages. CAD $115.00 / USD 95.00
This is the first study in 100 years to be devoted to the copper tokens which were issued for circulation in Upper Canada between 1815 and 1841, the date of the formation of the Province of
The book is in two parts. Much of the General Introduction is devoted to establishing something of the historical context – social, economic, and cultural – in which the Upper Canada coppers were
issued and circulated. To that end, it is important to understand the growth and size of settlements in Upper Canada, of whom their populations consisted, in what occupations and leisure activities
those populations were engaged, along with the economic foundations which led to trade and commerce and created the conditions necessary for the appearance of copper tokens. The second part of the
book is a descriptive catalogue of the various copper tokens known to have been issued for use in Upper Canada. Much new information is introduced.
Separate chapters are devoted to the Lesslie tokens, the Brock coppers, the Sloop tokens, and the Miscellaneous tokens. Tokens are recorded by die variety and, for the first time, die states are
identified. Also for the first time, emission sequences are proposed for a number of issues. An auction and fixed price sales record is provided for many pieces, including classics in the Upper
Canada series such as the Lesslie 2d, the Brock mule, and the Jamaica Cask. Almost every token is illustrated and its specifications provided. There is also discussion of where the Upper Canada
tokens were struck, by whom and when they were issued, and where exactly and for what period of time they circulated.
The title of this book comes from a remark by John MacTaggart, who spent three years in Upper Canada between 1826 and 1828 working with Colonel John By on the Rideau Canal between Ottawa and
Kingston. MacTaggart observed that “the very coins of a realm, like the songs, affect its character. The emblems on the current coins of Canada help to make Yankees of the Colonists.” His complaint
was directed at “silver coins having eagles, stars, and emblems of liberty stamped upon them.” MacTaggart seems to have equated the ubiquity of American coins in Upper Canada with republican
propaganda against the British Crown. But the claim that “coins are like songs” conveys something more and something wider than the narrowest propaganda. A theme throughout this book is that coins –
or copper tokens – are like popular songs because they sing their meaning everywhere and to all who hold them in their hands. They evoke a whole world, a world of farmers and merchants, artisans and
labourers, which was particular to Upper Canada. Part of the goal in this book is to try and recreate through the copper tokens that were in use between 1815 and 1841 something of that world. What
the tokens sing are the songs of people’s lives and labours. There is a social and cultural importance which attaches to Canada’s early currency as well as a political and economic importance.
Numismatics can offer us a window onto social and cultural history as much as it can onto political or monetary history.
Research has been enabled by means of generous access to private and public collections and private and public libraries and archives.
The book is available in North America from Sveto Kovacevic at Ancient Numismatic Enterprise, www.anecoins.ca or by emailing email@example.com
For more information, see the Spink site:
Coins Are Like Songs: The Upper Canada Coppers 1815-1841 by Faulkner, C.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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