Skip to content
New Yorke Token, Brass, BN

Image Information

Type Coin
Title New Yorke Token, Brass, BN
Grade VF35
Service NGC
Service Catalog # 226
Denomination TOKEN

Undated TOKEN New Yorke Token, Brass, W-1705, R.6 VF35 NGC. 54.9 grains. Die alignment: 360?. A bright brass example of this mysterious Colonial-era token, the first numismatic item to bear the New York name, with a provenance going back over a century. The obverse is problem-free, with a clear depiction of Cupid and Psyche under palm trees. The reverse is somewhat lightly struck toward the upper half of the coin, with the eagle's head and the rosette above it being faint -- though even the finest known of these tokens shows a lack of detail in these areas. The color is exceptionally attractive, indicative of a high zinc content, without any of the discoloration seen on some examples. This enigmatic piece was first brought to widespread attention in the October 1861 issue of The Historical Magazine, in which Fisk Parsons Brewer published an illustrated article discussing it and speculating on its origins. While his conclusions are no longer accepted (he felt that the token, though discovered in a European museum, was struck in New York to facilitate trade), Brewer deserves credit for alerting numismatists of the day to its existence and for suggesting a late 17th century date of manufacture. While some have proposed that the coin may be of Dutch origin, the use of the English spelling "America" (as opposed to the Dutch "Amerika") argues otherwise. Its stylistic resemblance to British tokens made around 1670 is also strong. All known examples spent time in circulation, another trait of British tokens of this era. The best modern treatment of the token is John Kleeberg's presentation to the 1991 Coinage of the Americas Conference. Kleeberg concludes that the tokens were made for Francis Lovelace, who served as the English governor of New York from 1668 to 1673. The obverse depicts a rebus on the name Lovelace, rebuses being pictographic puzzles that were quite popular and used on other British tokens of the day. The reverse depicts the Lovelace arms, which were dominated by a frontal portrayal of an eagle. Kleeberg argues that, given the lack of formal arms of New York at the time, Lovelace's personal arms would have served as New York's during his governorship. With New York being recaptured by the Dutch in 1673, Lovelace's governorship came to an end. This intriguing and still-perplexing token is likely the only numismatic memento of his American political career. Listed on page 49 of the 2018 Guide Book. Ex: Dr. Thomas Hall (1909); Virgil M. Brand; Brand Estate; Burdette G. Johnson (1937); Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society.

Heritage Newman IX, November 2017, lot 15016, realized $38400. Images and description courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

Related Content

Image Collection Eric P. Newman Collection, Part IX
NNP is 100% non-profit and independent // Your feedback is essential and welcome. // Your feedback is essential and welcome.