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Talbot, Allum & Lee Cents – 1794 – 1795

The Three Types of 1794-1795 Talbot, Allum, and Lee Tokens

By 1794, the United States Mint at Philadelphia had opened and a year earlier had started to strike half-cent and one-cent coins. But by the end of 1794, the US Mint had struck, in those two years, only 116,934 Half Cents and 1,029,033 Large Cents for use in commerce across the entire group of colonies.   These small amounts of these small denomination coins left merchants scrambling to find any coinage. Talbot, Allum and Lee (T A & L) were a New York City Trading Company and they requested their own Talbot, Allum and Lee cents to be used in their business.

T,A & L commissioned Peter Kempson, who had a mining facility in Birmingham, England to strike two tons of copper tokens for their firm. They were likely designed by Thomas Wyon and bore 1794 and 1795 dates. They had weight and size similar to the British Half Penny to make them acceptable to merchants and customers alike.

The obverse featured a standing allegorical version of Miss Liberty, holding a Liberty Cap on a pole and behind her is a large bale or parcel, which would easily represent trading and commerce. Above Miss liberty and around the periphery is “LIBERTY & COMMERCE” with the date “1794” or “1795” below her in exergue.

The edge of the token is inscribed “PAYABLE AT THE STORE OF” and the reverse of the token has a merchant ship in full sail heading to the right with “TALBOT, ALLUM & LEE” across the top periphery. Underneath that is “NEW YORK” – a few early issues exclude the “NEW YORK” location.

(A 1795 Talbot, Allum & Lee Cent, Obverse [left], Reverse [right].)

The rarest variety of these Talbot, Allum and Lee tokens is the 1794-dated one with the words “NEW YORK” missing on the reverse. This was due to a massive die failure.

(The 1795-dated Talbot, Allum & Lee Token Obverse [left], Reverse {right].)

In 1795, the “NEW YORK” was the “ONE CENT” and the denomination was replaced by “NEW YORK * AT THE STORE OF.”

It is interesting to note that a number of 1795 dated Talbot, Allum and Lee Tokens were used as planchets for 1795 and 1797 United States Half Cent coins. TA & L had more coins than they knew what to do with so they sold about 52,000 of these tokens to the United States Mint, which was desperate for copper planchets. Sometimes, the TAL design is lightly visible underneath the US Mint’s design. Coins bearing the under-design of the TAL token bring significant premiums.

By 1796, Lee had retired and the firm was dissolved. The firm still had not distributed all of these tokens and the remaining ones were sold to the United States Mint, where many were used as planchets for 1797 Half Cents.

There are three basic types of Talbot, Allum and Lee Tokens:

  • 1794 Cent with “NEW YORK”
  • 1794 Cent without “NEW YORK”
  • 1795 Cent

But there are also thick and thin planchet varieties, several with minor variations with the lettering, some with a plain edge, and three (3) coins struck in Silver.

DateTypeMintageFine ValueUnc Value
1794With NEW YORKUnknown$100$1,200
1794Without NEW YORKUnknown$1,000$7,500

Expand your collection today and find a 1794 Talbot Allum & Lee One Cent Colonial PR-65 PCGS (Red/Brown).

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