Most collectors of Hard Times Tokens and Store Cards are aware of the one cent pieces made by Dr. Lewis Feuchtwanger. Other more experienced collectors may be aware of the three cent pieces made by the same. Yet what is not readily known is that Dr. Feuchtwanger also produced tokens of other denominations. In the following, we will examine two of these specimens, and diagnostically connect these tokens with Feuchtwanger.
The R.E. Russell Store Card
Knowledgeable collectors of Hard Time Tokens may be aware of the R.E. Russell 12½ cent token. Yet very little has been written about the connection between Feuchtwanger and this token. A clue about such connection may be inferred by the following advertisement, posted in the June 14th, 1837 edition of the New York City Evening Chronicle: Lewis Feuchtwanger Newspaper Advertisement Tokens
In Bowers’ More Adventures with Rare Coins, he infers a connection between this advertisement and the possibility of Feuchtwanger producing 5-cent or 12½-cent pieces.
However, further exploration by Bowers as to the viability of either denomination is not presented.
If one does the math, one will quickly find that the production of 500 pieces at $25 equates to exactly 5-cents per token; Hardly a profitable investment for the storekeeper! However, at a face value of 12½-cents, production of such tokens would indeed be profitable, both for Feuchtwanger and the storekeeper.
Russell Rulau, in his tokens catalog, reports one token that was produced circa 1837 that meets such specifications. It is the following:
Upon further analysis, if one makes a side-by-side diagnostic comparison to Feuchtwanger’s one-cent token, notably the Obverse-6 die, one sees that they are one and the same. 1837 Feuchtwanger Cent – Obverse HT-268-6
In contrast to what Rulau reports in his tokens catalog, Robert Lindesmith theorizes that the 6-I variety may be a Civil War issue, as the 6-I variety was not cataloged by Bushnell in 1858 or Cogan in 1859.
While this had previously opened-up the possibility that the R.E. Russell token was a Civil War token rather than a Hard Times token, that theory has been since proven wrong. In fact, through the author’s own research, the R.E. Russell token was a Hard Times Token struck for R.E. Russell of Columbia South Carolina.
See article here: The Curious R.E. Token Decrypted.
The Philadelphia Corporation
Few have made the connection that Dr. Lewis Feuchtwanger most likely patterned a One Shilling and a 50 cent token as well. Indeed, no mention of it is made in David Bowers’ More Adventures with Rare Coins, where a thorough exposé of Feuchtwanger’s most popular emissions are presented — but not these.
The following discusses diagnostics which make an attempt to attribute Lewis Feuchtwanger to these quite enigmatic and very rare specimens.
In the May 22nd 1837 edition of New York City’s Evening Chronicle, Feuchtwanger posted the following classified notice³, which serves as a tantalizing hint to the possibility of additional denominations of Feuchtwanger tokens†.
Interestingly, Russell Rulau in his tokens catalog, reports one token that was produced circa 1835-1836 that meet such specifications, and a second which shares the same obverse. They are the following:
While examining the reverse of the One Shilling token, one does not immediately nor readily make a connection with Feuchtwanger. The only potential clue to the connection is that the token is made from German Silver and there is a crude eagle depicted on the obverse of the specimen. It isn’t until one examines the obverses of both tokens that one notices that they share the same obverse, and share the same diameter of 26mm.
In examining the reverse of the 50 cent token, one immediately notices the design similarities of the wreath, with opposing berries before each flower. Of this specimen, there exist 23 berries. Like the one cent varieties, the reverse also shares a similar wreath-bow configuration, with terminating wreath stems and ribbons. It is the reverse of this token, in conjunction with the both sharing the same obverses, that one makes the connection.
Of the two varieties, only two are known for HT-412 and several more for HT-413.
Due to the scarcity of these specimens, it can be inferred and conjectured that both were pattern pieces created at the on behalf of the City of Philadelphia (or an agent thereof, or in anticipation thereof), as the “Philadelphia Corporation” is one and the same. Given the possibility that these are indeed pattern or trial pieces, one must then explore the possible meanings of the letters “F.S.” inscribed on the reverse of each. While examining various historical catalogs and auction texts, an interesting find was discovered.
In the Catalogue of the Celebrated Collection of United States and Foreign Coins of the Late Matthew Adams Stickney, ESQ, pursuant to the auctioning of the decedent’s coin cabinet, there exist the following excerpts, made by one Henry Chapman, a prominent numismatist and cataloger at the turn of the 20th century:
Further examination of the manuscript revealed the following entry and lot on page 153:
Therefore, it can be logically inferred that the letters “F.S.” inscribed on the reverse may quite stand for “Feuchtwanger Silver.” And finally, it is obvious that both tokens were the product of Feuchtwanger.
Notes and Sources
† In light of the above May 22nd 1837 advertisement, it is questionable whether these tokens were indeed produced at those times, or in actuality late-spring or summer of 1837.
- Evening Chronicle, New York, NY, June 14th 1837
- Standard Catalog of United States Tokens 1700-1900 Fourth Edition, Russell Rulau, Krause Publications, ©2004, pgs.174, 190
- Evening Chronicle, New York, NY, May 22nd 1837
- Catalogue of the Celebrated Collection of United States and Foreign Coins of the Late Matthew Adams Stickney ESQ.,Henry Chapman, Davis & Harvey Auctioneers, 1907
- ‘The Curious R.E. Token Decrypted,’ Aaron Packard, Nova Numismatics, ©2013