Web site visitor Tony Payne writes:
I'm a 100% disabled veteran turned professional metal detectorist. Last summer my friend and I drove 90 minutes north to Lancaster Ohio to detect an original 1860 house
underground railroad house. I walked up in the yard, set my detector down where I always start, right side of the walk before the stairs to enter the residence because most people
are right handed and this is about the spot where most people pull a key out of their right pocket dropping coins. This method has paid off more times than I can count.
This particular time as I turned in my Whites Mx Sport pro detector it began beeping as I was purring in the headphones. 4" under the dense soil I dug this 1847 octagonal
Large cent. I've been researching this coin for over a year and have found many examples of different years found all over the country. I've seen maybe 15 total online.
The only story I have found was that it was called a trust token, a symbol or proof that the bearer was a legitimate slave and not a southern slave spy. I guess it would be
presented to the person(s) running the UGRR house to prove yes, they came from another UGRR establishment in line with their dangerous journey.
This coin is the most interesting and mysterious object out of all the items and coins I've dug since I began two years ago. Since the U.S. Mint did not mint octagonal
large cents I've been on this quest to substantiate the UGRR trust token story or uncover the true history of this practice. I appreciate any kind of help or advice you could
give me. Thank you.
Interesting story, but what is really known about such pieces? I've not encountered one before. Searches of the Newman Numismatic Portal and the general web came up empty.
I next reached out to a couple of our knowledgeable readers. -Editor
Dave Schenkman writes:
I think I have one of those somewhere, but I know nothing about them. I assumed they were merely the result of someone with too much time on his hands. I believe I also have
one made in the shape of a gear.
Bill Eckberg writes:
I’ve seen couple of these before, but I’ve heard nothing about a purpose. The Underground Railroad would be an interesting story, but I’ve heard nothing about that myself. It’s
kind of interesting that the coin shows a reverse rotation.
Cents modified for use as hardware such as washers and gears are common and easily explained. Love tokens and other modified coins have a decorative use, and maybe this one
falls into that category. It's clearly been dug, but is it even an actual Large Cent?
Fanciful backstories are a dime a dozen. Is there any proof waiting to be found? Can any of our readers help with this? Thanks. I'd like to learn what websites have images
of these along with such a story. -Editor
Wayne Homren, Editor
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