L. Michael Lawrence writes:
"As to the cut down large cents in the last couple of E-Sylum installments - If the two round pieces shown in the images were done contemporary to the times (circa 1860's and the Civil War) and are not more recent works, then they are examples of
copperhead badges which were carried in the North by confederate sympathizers who did not support the war and were used as identifiers with like minded people at the time. There is a fair amount of information available online by searching
copperhead badges or
copperhead coins/tokens. Genuine examples are collectible as early copper exonumia or civil war tokens, but later reproductions are out there and dedicated reproductions are also. They are another item of history pertaining to Civil War times."
Bill Groom writes:
"During the Civil War, the so-called copperheads were regarded as snakes-in-the grass by soldiers fighting and dying in far-off fields to sanction liberty for all. The oppositional view was that fighting and funding the war was, in effect, an infringement on their personal liberty, their free choice. To emphasize their position, badges were fashioned from large cents, cutting them down in order to accentuate the "copper head" of Lady Liberty. As evidenced by the news stories in my article, many of these were worn as pinned badges; this, resulting in serious public clashes. I suspect that, in order to avoid violent consequences, many a copperhead or "copper head" preferred to carry their badge in their pocket. Looking at Dave Schenckman's piece, I strongly suspect that someone once gave that particular copperhead badge a good punch-in-the-nose!"
Duuuhh! How could I manage to forget that we'd discussed this topic before? Bill Groom submitted a great article on these in 2019, and I'll republish an except here - follow the link below for the complete piece.
Many of the so-called Copperhead Democrats openly flaunted their political position by adopting and wearing a Copperhead badge. The badge was nothing more than a cut-down, miniaturized large cent. The obverse stars and reverse legend, United States of America, were removed. The obverse Liberty head was displayed, and a pin was typically soldered to the reverse. The Copperheads were a distinct minority and largely reviled. Rather than invite assault, many of them took to carrying this symbolic token as a pocket piece to share with fellow Copperheads. Below are shown a few examples …
Here's a contemporary newspaper article about the
The Ontario Repository and Messenger
Copperhead badge ...
Wednesday, March 18, 1863
The young Democrats of Syracuse have adopted a
Copperhead badge. It is made by procuring one of the large United States copper cents, and neatly removing the head of the
Goddess of Liberty. To this is affixed a pin, which fastens to the lapel of the coat, or any other conspicuous place on the wearer where he chooses to display it.
To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
QUERY: OCTAGONAL LARGE CENT INFORMATION SOUGHT
COPPERHEAD TOKENS OF THE CIVIL WAR
WAYNE'S NUMISMATIC DIARY: FEBRUARY 26, 2023, PART 1 : Cut Down Large Cents
Another Cut Down Large Cent
Wayne Homren, Editor
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