Civil War Tokens

by Fred Ray on April 12, 2009 · 0 comments

You can buy a lot of expensive gold and silver coins at American Precious Metals Exchange, but you can also buy Civil War tokens of various of various kinds. Their web site explains that:

… economic pressures were felt as early as 1862 when the phenomenon known as Gresham’s Law took effect and the public began withdrawing all metallic currency. The anticipated increase in value of all metals prompted the hoarding of gold, silver and copper to such an extent that there were no metallic coins in circulation. To fill the need this situation caused, tradesmen began issuing what are today called Civil War Tokens.

Two basic types exist; “store card” tokens which named a merchant or sponsor expected to honor the redemption of the token, and “patriotic” tokens which contained no sponsor. Civil War tokens were privately minted and distributed in the U.S. from 1862-1864. The Sutler token was one of the first military tokens put into general use for the welfare of military personnel.

Not sure I totally agree with the first paragraph—there certainly was some hoarding, but I’m not aware of that being a big factor in the North, where the currency remained strong. What you did see, however, was sutlers giving change for hard currency or greenbacks in tokens good only at their store so as to assure repeat business, rather like the store that gives you a credit certificate rather than a cash refund.


In any case, if you want ’em and can pay the freight, they got ’em.

Full disclosure: I have no ties with nor receive any benefit from this or any other similar site or business, and have posted it only for the Civil War interest.


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