Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Primitive CT from Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia means "New Scotland." It is not surprising that the NS Presbyterian churches were established with CTs in-hand, or if not in-hand, then with plans to make a few.
     The largest influx of settlement was in the mid-1700s. The first production of CTs on the island was at Truro in 1770 -- a Glasgow-styled square no less! Other ministers had the forethought to bring a bag of tokens with them, such as the Johnshaven pieces used at Antigonish in about 1818.
     Like the American CTs, a large proportion of Canadian tokens were primitively made. Yet, the Canadian tokens came nearly a half-century later. As such, the shapes were more modern: fewer squares, more ovals and cut rectangles. Keep in mind that by the late eighteenth century, most Scottish churches were producing attractive CTs, often two-sided in modern shapes with ovals relatively well-established and cut rectangles beginning their ascent. Consequently, these same shapes were copied in Canada; however, they were in a more primitive form due to lack of resources.
Big, bold & rugged with shark's teeth
for a border, this CT copied the popular
form found in Scotland: cut rectangle.
     This brings us to our primitive CT of the week: a cut rectangle (yes, a modern shape) from Saint Paul's Church at East River. This is one of my favorite CTs: big, bold and rugged. The edges are hand-snipped to produce a somewhat irregular shape. And those shark's teeth are hard to miss. They appear to be boldly stamped with a rectangular punch with rounded corners that was sharply chiseled along the edges to produce the points. It must have been a big punch -- something a blacksmith would use.
     This CT is thick at nearly 2mm, so it rests heavily in the palm. It is broad too. I imagine it was easy to grasp and not easily lost. The whole presentation reminds me of a serving platter. Of course, its austerity demanded a blank reverse.
     This CT is listed as NS-216 in the Charlton Standard Catalog. This catalog indicates that the Reverent John MacRae established the Kirk at East River in 1827. He remained there until 1844. This CT was probably used during this time, but there is no documentation to support this. No other East River CTs are known from this congregation.
     East River was once known as Indian Point. Apparently, some 120 acres of land was reserved for the Mi'kmaq people in the 1790s. Genealogy records describe the early settlers as highland Scots who were "a sturdy stock, a sober, stalwart worshipping set of men and women, with iron in their blood, and a burning love in their hearts for the Church and the School." Settlement began in 1784. Saint Paul's Church was built in 1815 according to some historians. Was there an assigned minister there before Reverent MacRae arrived in 1827? Nonetheless, this church served the congregation for 40 years before a new one was built nearby. Logging, lime quarrying and grain farming were early industries of the region -- hard, lumbar-wrenching work. This token is part of this pioneering life.

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