Friday, August 2, 2013

Presbyterian Historical Society features American CTs

Here is the Insert for Heritage Sunday.
You can click on it to enlarge it.
The Presbyterian Historical Society (PHS) featured American CTs this year during Presbyterian Heritage Sunday.
     Unfortunately, we missed it, as Heritage Sunday is celebrated on the Sabbath closest to May 21. It was on this date in 1789 that the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the USA first met.
     But these were certainly not the first Presbyterians in America. Several of the original Jamestown settlers were Presbyterian. The first Presbyterian church in America is considered to be that of the Southhampton congregation on Long Island, New York, established in the 1640s. Also, Norriton Church in Pennsylvania dates back to the same decade. All this info is provided on the PHS website. Check it out!
     The PHS provides a bulletin insert (a PDF file) each year for Heritage Sunday that can be downloaded, copied, and placed in the church program for parishioners to enjoy. The PHS maintains a collection of American CTs -- a few of them are pictured on the insert. Some of the other images on their website suggest that their collection is quite extensive. Burzinski listed 484 American tokens, whereas Bason listed four more. Most of them are rare.
     The small cut rectangle with border and ARPC (Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church) is from either Ohio or Indiana. It is difficult to tell which, as Bason lists several similar CTs from these two states. The round metal CT appears new and is not pictured in Bason. The Carlisle PA token (wood or cardboard) is self-explanatory.
     Perhaps the most interesting piece of all is the colonial era paper card used by Reverend Samuel Davies in Hanover, Virginia. Paper tokens or tickets were used before metallic tokens became popular. In rural areas, the paper tokens were more difficult to produce than the metal tokens, as printers were few and far between. But every crossroads had a blacksmith. Also, paper tokens could be forged or altered. They were certainly not as durable either.
     The paper token shown on the insert is the oldest American piece I have seen. The town of Hanover, located just outside of Richmond, was settled in 1676 and became a county in 1720. I doubt many of these paper tokens have survived from this early period. In contrast, paper tokens became more common in the early 1900s, as they were easier to mass produce. By that time, the industrial revolution was in full swing and commercial printing was commonplace. As such, metallic CTs gradually disappeared.
     As for the Hanover script, there is a story here, and I will find it and explore it in a future post.

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