One of the most important discoveries in Hard Times tokens in decades was made this year by Stephen Oatway of Riverview, New Brunswick, Canada. So far as is known, the specimen is unique.
The token is a muling in German silver (Feuchtwanger metal) of HT 262 (Low 116) and HT 14 (Low 6). Diameter is 25 millimeters, weight 5.65 grams, plain edge, and Oatway sold it on eBay for U.S. $463.88.
In the ninth edition of Standard Catalog of Hard Times Tokens, which I authored as a stand-alone HT volume in 2001 with expanded die-evidence studies by Wesley Cox, we deduced that HT 262 (New York arms three-cent token) was the work of Bale & Smith of New York. It was also proven that HT 14 (Whig victory cent) was a Robert Lovett Sr. product. Thus we have an illogical muling well before the heyday of such things in the 1850-62 period.
Cox did not verify HT 262 to B&S NY but did not dispute my deductions from the 10-times enlargements. I place my name on a book, I stand by it.
A Rarity 9 German silver Hard Times token in 25mm size, regardless of condition, is worth much more than $464! In the fifth edition of Standard Catalog of United States Tokens 1700-1900, now in preparation for 2008-2009, a normal HT 262 in VF rates $800 and in EF $3,000.
Similarities and differences
HT 14B, the German silver version of HT 14, rates $5,750 in very fine, (John J. Ford Jr. 2004 sale) at Rarity 6, dated 1834, has dentilated rims, and is engrailed or else diagonally reeded leftward). It commemorated the Whig victory in the 1834 congressional and gubernatorial races. It measures 25.7mm.
The muling’s HT 14 side is struck off center to upper left and thus better displays the word HURRA, which usually on even quality tokens is difficult to read.
There are too many differences in style between HT 14B and the muling’s 1834 Whig side to overlook, so for now we’ll call this a pattern or trial strike version of the final product.
As to the Feuchtwanger three-cent side, again we see a softness of outlines and a major difference in the leftmost maiden. She faces toward the viewer on HT 262 and toward the viewer’s left on the muling. Again I feel this to be a trial version by James Bale or Frederick Smith.
HT 262 in GS measures 25mm. It is dated 1837.
So, who made it and why? Lovett and Bale-Smith probably collaborated on token dies. A young colleague of mine, Katherine Jaeger, has worked on this but at present is under contract to Whitman Publishing for a totally different book project. Wes Cox seems to have become inactive.
The best brains in numismatics are now free to pursue this discovery and its importance. Since the provenance of this muling is not known and its appearance in 2005 raises doubts, I cannot guarantee its authenticity.
The date 1837 determines where I place it in my catalog. It shall be HT A262 and tentatively valued at $5,000 with Rarity 9 (unique) for now.
Comments may be directed to Russ Rulau at P.O. Box 153, Iola, WI 54945.