Colonial Values

Early American money – such as colonial, post-colonial and continental coins – was a much more chaotic affair than the system we have in place today. Many coins from this time period are very rare and expensive. 

Before the Hawaiian Islands were settled by Europeans, there were many indigenous peoples there. While they didn’t have coinage, they did use Cowry shells, beads, feathers, sandalwood, and some exotic spices as mediums of exchange.
John Gregory Hancock’s designs for the Washington Large Eagle and Small Eagle Cents of 1791 were unwanted by the US Mint and President Washington. So the Small and Large Eagle versions were moved to other Condor Tokens (British Commercial Halfpennies).
After President George Washington’s public rejection of John Gregory Hancock’s Large and Small Eagle Washington Cents as being too “monarchial” – meaning, he did not want a coinage with his likeness upon it, Hancock’s disappointment grew to frustration.

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Thomas Wyon designed a 1795 British copper Halfpenny token that utilized the bust of President Washington. It was designed for the London firm of Clark & Harris, who were exporters of and dealers in stoves and fireplace screens, also called Grates!
Towards the end of the 17th century, the French government, mired in a deep recession, turned to striking billon coinage. King Louis XIV created France’s billon coinage by virtue of an edict in October of 1692.
The Auctori Plebis Token is an enigmatic colonial token. No one knows who made it, where it was struck, or if an American Merchant ordered it from a British minter. What is certain is that it circulated throughout the American Colonies.
William Wood’s copper coins were heavier than those copper coins already in use, they were in demand and that would continue. In fact, had he produced all that he had permission to strike, he would have lost money over the period of time it would have taken him to fulfill that contract. 
It was long believed that the same British minter, W. and Alexander Walker had also struck, in 1792, before the news of Washington’s disapproval, coins with the same Washington President obverse but these had a legend on the reverse instead of an eagle.
4,000 of these coins were sent to the United States and distributed to Washington, his cabinet members, Senators and Congressmen, and other important officials. Washington said an emphatic NO and these coins would not be ordered.
A wooden cask of about 4,000 of these “cents” was shipped to Philadelphia to be distributed to members of Washington’s cabinet as well as United States Senators and Congressmen. This was done in hope of impressing these gentlemen and securing a contract to mint large enough quantities to be distributed across the country.
By the middle of the 19th Century, this Unity States token was still in circulation in many of the original colonies of the United States. These tokens and all foreign coins became worthless and unacceptable as payment for any debts by the adoption of the Coinage Act of 1857.
This very rare token was named the “Washington the Great” token but is called the “Ugly Head” because the designer had no idea of what Washington looked like. Some experts speculated that this might have been a satirical piece rather than one to honor Washington.
Very little is known about the undated Washington “Success” tokens beyond a description of the pieces themselves. The obverse contains a bust-right portrait with the legend GEORGE WASHINGTON while the reverse depicts the Eye of Providence with fifteen long rays and a field of fifteen stars surrounded by the legend SUCCESS TO THE UNITED STATES.
It is believed that these tokens were also minted in Birmingham, England, by William Lutwyche. Although it also features a portrait of George Washington, in a military coat, facing left, it is an undated and undenominated piece.
There are two different types of Liberty and Security Tokens and several variations of each making for approximately seven distinct different Tokens. The first token, designed by Thomas Wyon, is undated and features a military bust of George Washington, facing right.
Much like the Washington Cents of 1791 and 1792, the Getz Patterns were struck by an outside contractor in hopes of establishing themselves as the possible official coinage of the new American Government. Robert Morris, head of the United States Senate Committee on coinage, hired engraver Peter Getz to strike coinage to his specifications.
A popular Washington Colonial Token is the “Double-Head” Token. This copper token is undated but even though it was struck in the 1820 – the 1840s, it is collected with colonial coins.
The 1609 Royal Charter allowed the Colony of Virginia to mint coinage for their uses. After 160 years, the Virginia Assembly authorized the striking of a Halfpenny in 1773 from the Tower of London Mint.
As few as a dozen New York Theater tokens were struck in proof. Skidmore created these “on speculation” and had hoped to obtain a contract from a prosperous New York business to design and strike a series or quantity of tokens for them.
Talbot, Allum, and Lee commissioned Peter Kempson, who had a mining facility in Birmingham, England to strike two tons of copper tokens for their firm. They had weight and size similar to the British Half Penny to make them acceptable to merchants and customers alike.
Standish Barry was a silversmith from Baltimore, Maryland, whose 3 Pence Silver coins are generally collected with US colonial coins. These coins are shrouded in mystery. Who is depicted on their obverse?
Mark Newby was a Quaker, from Dublin, Ireland. He came to America in 1681 and settled in Camden, New Jersey. He brought to the New World a large cache of copper coins that have become known as St. Patrick coppers.
The 1792 United States Pattern coinage is probably the most important pattern coin as they were the precursors to the regular coinage that was to follow in the years to come. These coins were the basis for the United States monetary system, during its infancy, which became the world standard for coinage.
William Wood was the owner of numerous copper and tin mines in Great Britain. He sought and obtained a patent and then permission to strike coinage for use in the British colonies in America and also for use in Ireland.

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