Nathan C. Folger c.1855

Nathan C. Folger, c.1855

Of the many token varieties listed in Wright, Miller, and Rulau, few are as difficult to attribute than the merchant token emissions of Nathan C. Folger.

Collectors will find that this is not because the emissions consist of a vast number of obscure differences, but rather because the aforementioned authors did an incredibly confusing job of documenting the varieties.

Aside from the assorted metallic planchet compositions and reeded edges, there are but only a few variations in both the tokens’ obverse and reverse designs.

Indeed, after careful analysis of all emissions, there exist but only two major obverse types and two major reverse types. After factoring in planchet types and edges, there are 23 different varieties; two of which are unlisted in any catalog and have only recently been discovered. (See table below.)

To date, Edgar H. Adams, in his May 1915 article in The Numismatist, was the least confusing in his descriptions of the Folger pieces. While his work was not comprehensive of all known Folger emissions, it was this article which provided the necessary details to accurately describe all of the emissions.

Biography

Nathan C. Folger was born in Hudson New York in 1810.  On New Year’s day 1830 Folger arrived in the city of New Orleans.  Immediately upon his arrival he engaged in the retail clothing business. Sometime thereafter, he opened his own clothing store at 33 Old Levee.  This is evident by his first store card emission, Rulau HT-177 dated 1837, pictured below.

HT-177 Nathan C. Folger Hard Times Token

Sometime in that same year, Folger’s business failed. From that time in 1837 through 1842, he relocated back to New York City. It is unknown what profession he pursued during his time back in New York, nor exactly when he came back to New Orleans.

However, in 1849 Folger formed a partnership with Thomas N. Blake, a previous competitor in New Orleans.  After a few years Blake disappeared from the venture’s name, and Folger evidently became the firm’s sole proprietor.

N.C. Folger's Clothing Store

Folger’s son, Charles W. joined the firm in 1855.  About three years thereafter, Folger’s two other sons, Fred G. and Nathan C. Jr., also joined the firm.

Folger’s clothing business remained in operation until 1862.  Most probably due to the Civil War the firm closed. Nathan C. Folger didn’t appear again in New Orleans directories until 1867, when he was listed as a soap manufacturer operating under the partnership of Hughes & Folger Co.

Merchant Tokens – Obverse Types A & B Described

There are three significant variations that distinguish the three obverse types.

At the top of each token is the address “17 OLD LEVEE”

In obverse type A, the top of the ‘7’ is taller than the top of the ‘1’
In obverse type B, the top of the ‘7’ is about even with the top of the ‘1’
In obverse type C, the top of the ‘7’ is about even with the top of the ‘1’ but spread further apart.

An eagle device is prominent on each of the three obverse varieties:

In obverse type A and type B, the wings of the eagle point upward.
In obverse type C, the wings of the eagle point downward.

At the top of the the major and minor motto:

In obverse type A, the third ‘E’ in LEVEE is located below and between ‘ER’ of FOLGER
In obverse type B, the third ‘E’ in LEVEE is fully located below the ‘R’ of FOLGER
In obverse type C, the third ‘E’ in LEVEE is located below and to the right of ‘R’ of FOLGER

NC Folger Obverse Types

Reverse Types 1, 2, & 3 Described

In reverse type 1, a leaf in the shape of an ‘S’ is situated adjacent to the ‘C’ in CLOTHING
In reverse type 1, a leaf in the shape of an ‘S’ is situated adjacent to the ‘S’ in CAPS

In reverse type 2, there are three rosettes situated at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock respectively.

Reverse type 3 is completely different than reverse types 1 and 2.  An eagle device is featured, and the motto “GENTLEMENS FURNISHINGS” is displayed.

The variety itself is a muling, as the reverse of this variety is the same as the reverse for Miller KY-32 – ‘Taylor and Raymond.’

NC Folger Reverse Types

The Merchant Token Varieties of N.C. Folger

Below is a table which outlines all of the N.C. Folger token varieties. (Note that this does not include the N.C. Folger & Son token varieties.)

Table of NC Folger Token Varieties

A Few Words About Auction and Retail Pricing

Most all of the merchant-era N.C. Folger specimens described herein are relatively common. At any given time varieties that are EF or greater in grade are available for purchase on eBay or other coin venues.  2019 pricing for an EF specimen should not exceed more than $75 dollars when raw; those which are slabbed by NGC or other tier-1 grading services should command no more than $100 in EF grade.  For a specimen that is Mint State, it should cost a collector no more than $175.  Any specimens priced higher should be avoided.  None of the merchant-era specimens depicted here exceeded $150 in cost.

Numismatic Specimens

Below are twelve example specimens from my cabinet that are attributed using the above attribution guide.

In the first specimen pictured below, its obverse ‘7’ is clearly higher than the ‘1’ in 17 OLD LEVEE. Moreover, the third ‘E’ in LEVEE is underneath the ‘E’ and ‘R’ in FOLGER.  Thus it is an obverse type A.

In the first specimen’s reverse, there are is a leaf before C, and a leaf after S. Thus it is a reverse type 1.  The specimen is struck in copper, and it possesses a reeded edge.

Therefore, it is a Miller LA-10.

Miller LA-10 N.C. Folger

In the second specimen pictured below, its obverse ‘7’ is higher than the ‘1’ in 17 OLD LEVEE. The third ‘E’ in LEVEE is underneath the ‘E’ and ‘R’ in FOLGER.  Thus it is an obverse type A.

In the second specimen’s reverse, there are is a leaf before C, and a leaf after S. Thus it is a reverse type 1.  The specimen is struck in brass, and it possesses a reeded edge.

Therefore it is a Miller LA-10B.

Miller LA-10B N.C. Folger

In the third specimen pictured below, its obverse has the ‘7’ about even with the ‘1’ in 17 OLD LEVEE.  Moreover, the third ‘E’ in LEVEE is more underneath the ‘R’ in FOLGER. Thus it is an obverse type B.

In the third specimen’s reverse, there are is a leaf before C, and a leaf after S. Thus it is a reverse type 1.  The specimen is struck in brass, and it possesses a reeded edge.

Therefore it is a Miller LA-11B.

Miller LA-11B N.C. Folger

In the fourth specimen pictured below, its obverse ‘7’ is clearly higher than the ‘1’ in 17 OLD LEVEE. Moreover, the third ‘E’ in LEVEE is underneath the ‘E’ and ‘R’ in FOLGER.  Thus it is an obverse type A.

In the fourth specimen’s reverse, there are three rosettes at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock. Thus it is a reverse type 2.  The specimen is struck in brass, has remnants of silvering, and it possesses a reeded edge.

Therefore it is a Miller LA-12A, a variety that is unlisted in any of the known catalogs.

Miller LA-12A N.C. Folger Unlisted Variety

In the fifth specimen pictured below, its obverse has the ‘7’ about even with the ‘1’ in 17 OLD LEVEE.  Moreover, the third ‘E’ in LEVEE is more underneath the ‘R’ in FOLGER. Thus it is an obverse type B.

In the fifth specimen’s reverse, there are three rosettes at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock. Thus it is a reverse type 2.  The specimen is struck in brass, and it possesses a reeded edge.

Therefore it is a Miller LA-14.

Miller LA-14 N.C. Folger

In the sixth specimen pictured below, its obverse ‘7’ is clearly higher than the ‘1’ in 17 OLD LEVEE. Moreover, the third ‘E’ in LEVEE is underneath the ‘E’ and ‘R’ in FOLGER.  Thus it is an obverse type A.

In the sixth specimen’s reverse, there are three rosettes at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock. Thus it is a reverse type 2.  The specimen is struck in brass, and it possesses a plain edge.

Therefore it is a Miller LA-14A.

Miller LA-14A N.C. Folger

In the seventh specimen pictured below, its obverse ‘7’ is clearly higher than the ‘1’ in 17 OLD LEVEE. Moreover, the third ‘E’ in LEVEE is underneath the ‘E’ and ‘R’ in FOLGER.  Thus it is an obverse type A.

In the seventh specimen’s reverse, there are three rosettes at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock. Thus it is a reverse type 2.  The specimen is struck in brass, and it possesses a reeded edge.

Therefore it is a Miller LA-14B.

Miller LA-14B N.C. Folger

In the eighth specimen pictured below, its obverse ‘7’ is higher than the ‘1’ in 17 OLD LEVEE. Moreover, the third ‘E’ in LEVEE is underneath the ‘E’ and ‘R’ in FOLGER.  Thus it is an obverse type A.

In the eighth specimen’s reverse, there are three rosettes at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock. Thus it is a reverse type 2.  The specimen is struck in copper, and it possesses a reeded edge.

Therefore it is a Miller LA-15.

Miller LA-15 N.C. Folger

In the ninth specimen pictured below, its obverse has the ‘7’ about even with the ‘1’ in 17 OLD LEVEE.  Moreover, the third ‘E’ in LEVEE is more underneath the ‘R’ in FOLGER. Thus it is an obverse type B.

In the ninth specimen’s reverse, there are three rosettes at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock. Thus it is a reverse type 2.  The specimen is struck in copper, and it possesses a reeded edge.

Therefore it is a Miller LA-15F.

Miller LA-15F N.C. Folger

The tenth specimen’s obverse is the type A variety, while it shares its reverse with Miller KY-32.  All specimens featuring KY-32 as their reverse are mulings.  It is struck in copper, and possesses a plain edge.

Therefore it is an LA-18B

Miller LA-18B N.C. Folger

The eleventh specimen pictured below was struck in brass. In its obverse, the eagle features drooping wings. It possesses a reeded edge. There is but only one NC Folger variety that possesses both of these attributes.  Thus it is a Miller LA-20.

Miller LA-20 N.C. Folger

The twelfth specimen pictured below was also struck in brass and also features an eagle with drooping wings. However, this variety possesses a plain edge.

Therefore it is a Miller LA-20A, a variety that is unlisted in any of the known catalogs.

Miller LA-20A N.C. Folger - Unlisted Variety

Aaron Packard [End Mark]

Notes and Sources

  1. Affleck’s Southern Rural Almanac and Plantation and Garden Calendar for 1854, Thomas Affleck, Washington Adams Co., 1853, pg. 105
  2. DeBow’s Southern and Western Review, Volume 13, J.D.B DeBow, 1852, pg. 108
  3. The Confederate Army 1861-65 (3): Louisiana & Texas, Ron Field, Osprey Publishing, ©2006, pg. 17
  4. American Business Tokens, Benjamin P. Wright, Quarterman Publications, ©1972 (Reprint), pgs. 332-333
  5. United States Store Cards, Edgar H. Adams, 1920, pg. 8
  6. The Numismatist Vol.28, May 1915, pgs. 161-163
  7. A Catalogue of U.S. Store Cards or Merchant Tokens, Donald M. Miller, Henry Hall Inc., ©1962, pgs. 14-15
  8. Standard Catalog of United States Tokens 1700-1900 Fourth Edition, Russell Rulau, Krause Publications, ©2004, pgs. 137, 289-291
  9. The American Numismatic Society, Record Number 1837.0000.999.30577
  10. The Library of Congress Digital Archives

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The author has over 30 years experience in North American numismatics. He is the author of numerous articles about exonumia, including those about tokens, scrip, and the public who used them. He is a member of the ANA, VNA, ACC, C4, CWTS, TAMS, MD-TAMS, AVA, NSCA, and NumisSociety.
advert

2 Responses to “Attributing the N.C. Folger Tokens of New Orleans” Subscribe

  1. William May 28, 2018 at 10:40 pm #

    Hello! I have a brass button which says “Folger & Blake N.O.” with a large star in the center. I’m assuming Folger produced these brass, two-piece clothing buttons, or perhaps they were on some of the garments Folger sold?

    Any information that you could provide would be useful. I’m happy to supply a photo of this button if desired.

    • Aaron Packard June 8, 2018 at 6:57 pm #

      Please share indeed. I would be most interested in seeing it. Please send to the email provided in the comment section of this site!

      Thanks,

      Aaron Packard

Leave a Reply

The W.W. Wilbur Auctioneer Tokens, Charleston SC

WWWilburHeadlinePic2

William W. Wilbur is infamous for having been an auctioneer who owned and operated a mercantile during the pre-Civil War […]

Our Nation’s First Interstate & Its Toll Tokens

NationsFirstInterstate-HeadlinePic

Our nation’s first interstate, the National Road, traversed through Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and Maryland. It was the United States’ first fully […]

The Provincial Token Coinage of the 18th Century

The Provincial Token-Coinage of the 18th Century by Dalton & Hamer

Dalton & Hamer’s Provincial Token-Coinage of the 18th Century. Published 1910. An illustrative guide that covers Conder tokens throughout the […]

The Fenian Brotherhood Token of 1866

FenianBrotherhood-Headline-Pic

Shortly before the American Civil War, an Irish nationalist militia was formed in the United States. Founded by Irish immigrants […]

The Tyson’s Telegraph Line & Its Tokens

TysonTelegraphHeadlinePic

The Tyson & Company omnibus service operated in New York City in the mid-18th century. The company operated several routes, […]