Welcome to the latest installment of my tour through A Guide Book of United States Coins, 2015 edition. This week I start at the bottom of page 47 with the New Yorke in America token. As is true of many if not most colonial and early American related issues, the Guide Book skims the surface and gives basic information. Elsewhere, such as in the C4 Newsletter (published by the Colonial Coin Collectors Club) and the Colonial Newsletter (published by the American Numismatic Society), not to overlook stand-alone reference books, much more could be found. Regarding the present piece, John Kleeberg’s study, “The New Yorke in America Token,” published as part of Money of Pre-Federal America (American Numismatic Society, 1992), is definitive. He concluded that the obverse shows Cupid and Psyche, a rebus on the name Lovelace, under a palm tree. The reverse illustrates the arms of Francis Lovelace, governor of New York from 1667 to 1673. John Kleeberg concludes that this token was issued at the value of one farthing under Governor Lovelace. Examples are known in copper or with a slight alloy as brass, also in white metal. These are great rarities today and only a few collectors have been fortunate enough to acquire one.
The next stop on the Guide Book tour is on page 48, Gloucester tokens. Again, scholarship comes to the fore and Michael J. Hodder wrote “The Gloucester County, Virginia Courthouse Tokens,” in The Colonial Newsletter, April 1997. By the way, that periodical can be obtained online from the American Numismatic Society and offers a tremendous wealth of information.
There are only three examples of the Gloucester token known today, each in brass. Essentially these tokens are not collectible.
In Early Coins of America, by Sylvester S. Crosby, 1875, this was stated:
“Of the history…of the Gloucester token, nothing is known. It appears to have been intended as a pattern for a shilling of a private coinage, by Richard Dawson of Gloucester (county?) Virginia.… But two specimens of this are known, both struck in brass. A full description cannot be given of it, as both impressions are very imperfect, and together they do not supply the entire legends with certainty.…
“The house upon this token may have been design to represent a warehouse, but is of a style corresponding more closely to that of some of the public buildings of olden times. Possibly it may have represented the court house of Gloucester County, and the legend, should any specimen fortunately be discovered to supply the missing portions, may prove to be GLOVCESTER CO HOUSE VIRGINIA.…”
Today, the reverse inscription is thought to read RIGHAVLT DAWSON ANNO DOM 1714. The Righault and Dawson families were owners of land in Gloucester County. The XII denomination in combination with the use of brass (instead of silver) may indicate that this was not intended as a coin, but instead a check for tobacco, which was legal tender in the colony at the time, suggested by the writer in his description of the Garrett Collection coin in 1980. Or it may have been a store card issued by a Righault-Dawson partnership. The depiction of a courthouse may refer to the nearest business and judicial center.
In 1979, Anthony German, using a metal detector, located a 1715-dated Gloucester token not far from the site of the courthouse. The coin is extensively oxidized and is graded as About Good. Enough lettering remains to indicate that the inscriptions differ from the 1714 version.