On or about the early 1820s Richard Trested, an English immigrant, established a die-sinking business at 70 William Street in New York City†. For approximately eight years thereafter, Trested operated his die-sinking business at various locations throughout New York City.
However, only a scant bit of evidence to date has emerged that incontrovertibly and inexorably links the token to Richmond, Virginia. The existence of records dating to the Hard Times Era are few, after many public documents were burned during the Civil War.
In 1829, at the age of 30, Trested died. Suffering from complications arising from having a finger finger, the wound festered and became infected, spreading to the rest of his body and resulting in his untimely death.
Working under Trested’s proprietorship was an apprentice by the name of James Bale. Upon Trested’s death, Bale and a partner, Charles Wright, bought Trested’s business from his widow¹. Quickly thereafter, in their own right, the newly partnered firm became known for producing various early tokens.
In 1833 the partnership dissolved. For several years thereafter, Bale worked primarily alone, but did employ various associate sinkers.
In 1835 Bale went into partnership with one Frederick B. Smith, and together they produced many well known tokens that remain well sought even today, including the famous Feuchtwanger Composition Cents. After the Hard Times era elapsed, Bale and Smith continued producing Merchant Tokens of the ensuing era.
In 1848 the Bale-Smith partnership dissolved, and Smith continued the venture in various partnership incarnations for another 40-50 years.
Richard Trested established a die-sinking operation comprised of a long line of die-sinkers inexorably and contiguously linked, that spanned the majority of the 19th century. From the birth of his die-sinking business in the early 1820s, through and until the die-sinking business end some 70 years later, the succession of its owners is legendary.
Illustrated at the top of this article is a graphic time-line of the businesses. Notable tokens produced during the various eras of the firms’ incarnations are also pictured.
The table below outlines the key dates of the die-sinking business. It should be noted that it is unknown exactly when the Smith & Horst partnership dissolved and transition to the Smith & Seward partnership ensued. Rulau attributes the Drittes Amercanisches Bundesschiessen token of 1868 to Smith & Horst. That said however, the exact time of the transition is exasperated by the fact that the Smith & Seward tokens (NY 291, NY 292) are traced to 1889-1891, yet an aluminum E. Jacobs & Son token, made by Smith & Horst is also traced to the decade of the 1890’s as well.
Trested Fecit Storecard
A few enigmatic tokens originating from the 1820’s have been linked to Trested.
Pictured below is Rulau’s E-NY-922, Richard Trested Die Sinker & Stamper storecard. Struck in brass, the specimen has rarity rating of R-7 and is Extra Fine in grade. Despite the graffiti etched onto its reverse, the specimen is a pleasing example of the intricate and quality engraving that Trested is known for.
Enigmatic J.E. and J.P. Tokens
In addition to the specimen above, of prominent and very mysterious note is the mysterious “J.E.” Token as pictured below. To date, no known merchant has been definitively linked with these emissions, but the engraving work has been linked to Richard Trested.
On the obverse of the token is a heraldic eagle, wings widely spread, head looking right, clutching a branch in its sinister claw, with arrows grasped in its dexter. On its reverse is a circle, with the letters J and E in relief inside, against a speckled field of tiny beads. Outside, in the circle’s periphery, is an ornamental wreath in relief spanning its circumference.
Two varieties are listed by Rulau; one struck in copper, the other in brass. However, there exist at least two more varieties: gilt copper over brass and silvered brass. The varieties are listed in the below table:
The first specimen pictured below is the brass emission. Listed as Miller NY-406 (Rulau E-NY-405), the specimen possesses a rarity rating of R-7. Only 4-12 specimens are estimated to exist.
The second specimen pictured below is the copper emission. Listed as Miller NY-405, the specimen possesses a rarity rating of R-8. Only 2-3 specimens are estimated to exist.
The third specimen pictured below is the gilt copper over brass emission. Neither listed in Miller or Rulau, the specimen is assigned a temporary catalog number based on Rulau: E-NY-406A. Its rarity rating is estimated to be R-8 or greater.
The final JE specimen pictured below is the silvered brass emission. Also neither listed in Miller or Rulau, NGC assigned it a catalog number of E-NY-405A based on Rulau. Its rarity rating like the specimen above is estimated to be R-8 or greater.
Another specimen, equally enigmatic, is the “J.P.” token. As with the previous example, no known merchant has been linked with the emission. However, based on its styling, and similarity to the “J.E.” token, the emission is also linked to Richard Trested. Both copper and brass varieties of this specimen are known to exist, and they have an approximate rarity rating of R-7.
The second specimen shown below was struck in copper. This specimen is listed both in Miller and Rulau.
Trested Fecit – Six Cents
Another emission, clearly associated with Richard Trested due to its obverse inscription, is a 6-cent piece. Also struck between 1825-29, only brass varieties of the Rulau E-NY-923 are known to exist. Sharing the same obverse design as the E-NY-922, it has a rarity rating of R-6.
Trested’s “By Trade We Prosper” Storecard
The final emission was engraved and struck by Trested between 1823-1824. With an emblematic ribbon declaring “BY TRADE WE PROSPER” scrolled underneath a radiant Liberty Cap, there are but only 4 known specimens of his storecard that exist. The first being an ANS example, a second being lot #111 from the April 1989 Bosco Auction, and a third from the July 2008 Dice & Hicks Auction; The Dice & Hicks example realized $20,700 USD. The fourth example of the Rulau E-NY-924 is pictured below.
Despite the example having several scratches on both its obverse and reverse surfaces, the specimen exhibits beautiful coloring and extra fine devices. This emission possesses a rarity rating of R-8.
Notes and Sources
† Debate exists as to the exact year when Trested established his die-sinking business. Sources cite 1821 and 1823.
Standard Catalog of United States Tokens 1700-1900, Fourth Edition, Russell Rulau, Krause Publications, ©2004
More Adventures with Rare Coins, Q. David Bowers, Collectors Universe, ©2002
Early American Medalists And Die-Sinkers Prior to the Civil War – Reprint, Sanford Durst, Numismatic Publications, ©1982
A Guide Book of United States Tokens And Medals, Katherine Jaeger, Whitman Publishing, ©2008
Obituary of Richard Trested, The New York Spectator, January 1829
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art, William James Bennett (American, London 1787–1844 New York)