The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 24, Number 5, January 31, 2021, Article 7


The latest addition to the Newman Numismatic Portal is an 1864 article on Hard Times Tokens by Alexandre Vattemare. Project Coordinator Len Augsburger provided the following report. -Editor

Vattemare Collection de Monnaies et Médailles de L'Amérique du Nord Wayne Homren recently purchased a DVD compilation of public domain works on numismatics. The description of this offering included a work on American numismatics by Alexandre Vattemare, dated 1864. Vattemare's 1861 volume, Collection de Monnaies et Médailles de L'Amérique du Nord de 1652 a 1858, is well-known and represents one of the earliest catalogs of U.S. coinage. This 1864 work was completely unknown to Wayne, or Len Augsburger.

After receiving the DVD, Wayne discovered, with the help of the numismatist's friend Google, that the 1864 work was actually an article published by Vattemare in the Revue Numismatique for that year. This article expands upon and reorganizes Vattemare's chapter on Hard Times tokens from the 1861 book. Vattemare perhaps envisioned a second edition of the 1861 volume, but was able to publish only this revised chapter.

See also Q. David Bowers' Alexandre Vattemare and the Numismatic Scene (Stack's Bowers, 2018), with foreword by David Gladfelter, and The Extravagant Ambassador (Boston Public Library, 2007), which includes an article by Alan Stahl, "Vattemare and Numismatics."

Link to Vattemare's Revue Numismatique 1864 article on Newman Portal:

Link to Vattemare's Collection de Monnaies et Médailles de L'Amérique du Nord de 1652 a 1858:

VattemareAddenda_0013 VattemareAddenda_0014

My purchase was driven by my curiosity over one title on the DVD offered by an eBay seller in Israel: Numismatique des États-Unis d'Amérique. I was familiar with Vattemare's 1861 work, but not this. Checks of NNP, library catalogs, and online search came up empty. Neither Len nor David Gladfelter were aware of it. Given that the DVD cost just $10 postpaid, that was enough for me. I ordered it, hoping to be able to add a new title to the Newman Portal. I have both of the above-mentioned books (I highly recommend both), and could not find it referenced.

VattemareAddenda_0003 When the disc arrived, it took quite a while to run a virus check - there were 3,471 files totalling 2.95 GB, all out-of-copyright works likely copied from public websites. Only a few of the folders contained documents relating to U.S. numismatics. All the titles were familiar and available on NNP except Numismatique des États-Unis d'Amérique.

A subfolder contained a set of 12 .png image files. There was no index or table of contents - no information about the work other than the title. It was not the same as Vattemare's 1861 publication, and looked like it came from a periodical. Long story short, the two plates were from Revue Numismatique, and I located the original article scans online - they'd been made by Google Books some years ago.

It was a fun diversion, and more of a rediscovery than a true discovery, but satisfying nonetheless. I'm glad to see this article get some renewed attention. -Editor

David Gladfelter writes:

"The article appeared in vol. 9, new series (1864) of Revue Numismatique. It expands upon pages 67-70 in the 1861 work, by adding historical comments as well as some new pieces. In the introductory section of the article, Vattemare claims that the U. S. Constitution permits only the federal government to coin money (it actually prohibits states from coining money), meaning gold and silver coins, but that (as of the Hard Times era) there was no restriction on making and circulating private copper tokens. Because copper coins did not circulate, he says, the copper satirical pieces were put in circulation and readily accepted. That is why he listed the Hard Times tokens under "monnaies," as he did with pre-federal coppers including the state issues. He describes the Feuchtwanger German silver token (#18 in the article) as being made of "an intermediate metal between silver and copper".

"16 tokens are described in the book and 18 in the article. I found at least one duplication – No. 2 in the article is the same piece as No. 1 in the book. It would not be too difficult to match up the Vattemare numbers with Low or Rulau numbers."

"It turns out George Fuld knew all about Vattemare's 1864 article, and mentioned it in his commentary in the catalog of Stack's auction of the Alan Scott Fisher collection of HTTs in 2004.

"Although Vattemare makes mention of his 1861 study of North American coins and medals, I think that the RN article was intended to be a stand-alone piece, not a supplement to the book.

"The article may have been published posthumously. Vattemare died on April 7, 1864."

Len adds:

"Presumably the pieces referenced remain in the Bibliotheque Nationale collection today."

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Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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