Henk Groenendijk shared these thoughts on the "Captain of Köpenick" token mentioned last week. Thanks.
It was surprised to see a token (Stephen Album Rare Coins Lot 1340) I have in my collection presented in last week's E-Sylum. But I was really astonished by its attribution to the German
Schutzgebiet of Kiau Chau. As far as I know the token is from Berlin, Germany. It is described as number 418 in the book
Berlin Marken und Zeichen by W. Hasselman (1987).
Several varieties are listed in this catalog and also the portrait is identified as that of Wilhelm Voigt, better known as the "Hauptmann von Köpenick" (Captain of Köpenick). The issuer of the token is given as Paul Herpich, owner of a
Konfektionsgeschäft (Clothing Store). The reference given in the auction description is Menzel-4287.1.2. This obviously refers to „Deutschsprachige Notmünzen und Geldersatzmarken im In- und Ausland
by Peter Menzel.
Several editions of this catalog have been published, the first one in 1982 (Transpress Verlag Berlin). Checking the „Erste digitale Ausgabe 2014
the catalog number 4287 refers to a completely different token however. Several slabbed specimens of the token can be found on the internet. The ones graded by PCGS all have the Menzel-4287.1.2 reference while those graded by NGC have as a reference Menzel-2951.4. This latter reference is the correct one. The attribution given by Menzel is the same as given by Hasselmann although Menzel does not identify the portrait.
Statue of the
Hauptmann von Köpenick in front of the Köpenick Town Hall, erected in 1996 (Photo Wikipedia)
The earliest listing using the Menzel 4287.1.2 reference I found is in the description of Lot #26403 in the Heritage 2012 September 6-11 Signature World & Ancient Coin Auction - Long Beach. The description reads as follows:
Berlin Issued Token for Kiau Chou, Menzel 4287.1.2 but apparently not listed by Schimmel nor Berlus. P H may stand for Paul Herpich. The circulating value as a Wert Marke was 10 Pfennig and the piece was apparently issued early in the 20th century. Medal is nickel-plated brass. This attribution is strictly based on Dana's notations and the rarity rating is his (my highlight). EF with much luster but with the plating rubbing off on the high points of the bust. From The Dana Roberts Collection and Study Group.
No arguments for the Kiau Chau attribution are given. In fact there are arguments against such an attribution:
The currency in use in Kiau Chau was the Mexican (Chinese) dollar, divided into 100 cents. The coins issued for Kiau Chau, dated 1909, are denominated in cents (KM #1 and 2);
All tokens issued for Kiau Chau, with a stated denomination, have
Also the token is not listed in
Marken und Token der ehemaligen deutschen Kolonien
by Nils Leipner (2016);
It seems proper to use the portrait of the "Hauptmann von Köpenick on a clothing store token as after returning to Berlin he bought a set of civilian clothes. Also the whole episode is an apt illustration of the saying
Clothes make the man. In fact the clothing store issuing the tokens may well have been the actual one where he bought his new outfit. I did not find any documentation supporting this but the store was located not far away from the
Neue Wache where he watched, in a nearby café, how the Mayor and chief cashier he arrested in Köpenick, were brought there.
This, not uncommon token, certainly is quite interesting but cannot be attributed to Kiau Chau.
I reached out to Stephen Album Rare Coins Chief Operations Officer Mike Barry who reported that the company was aware of the dubious attribution and had prepared comments on lots to be listed in later auctions but due to a copy/paste error it didn't appear on the lot published last week, They agree that these are likely not China and have amended the lot description as follows.
A number of these tokens have been attributed to Kiau Chau recently by grading companies and various auction houses. In our opinion the attribution is tenuous and it is more likely strictly a Berlin token issue.
Mike provided these links for reference. Thank you.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
STEPHEN ALBUM INTERNET AUCTION 18
Wayne Homren, Editor
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