Sunday, September 29, 2013

Market Watch

This market watch reviews all ebay auctions from September 22 thru 28. There were 32 CTs sold this week in 28 sales (two of the sales were group lots of two and four tokens). Although, 28 sales reflect only a medium level of activity, several rare and high condition tokens crossed the block -- consequently, quite a few dollars changed hands.
     Fifteen CTs sold for under $20 with another eight finding buyers under the $50 mark. This leaves nine CTs that sold for more: two of them sold for over $100 with another four being contested beyond the $75 mark -- that leaves three CTs in the high-middle range. These are big sales: two HD and four D tokens!
     All of the HD and D tokens came from the September 27 auction of 16 pieces offered by cobwrightfortishe as part of the Andrew Macmillan collection. It was interesting group this week, as the dates ranged widely from the eighteenth century to 1966 -- yes, 1966! The hammer prices in this auction also ranged widely from $16 to $119.
     The "star" of the auction was an upright oval from Edinburgh (B7538) in excellent condition. This CT from about 1820 pictures a chalice on the obverse and a pelican feeding its young on the reverse. The verses are blunt on each side: "My flesh is meat indeed" (obverse) and "My blood is drink indeed" (reverse). Certainly, it is a striking design on a broad piece measuring 28x33mm. Five bidders entered 15 bids pushing the price to $119 before the seconds ran out on the clock. Here is the link: Edinburgh CT.
     Not far behind in the bidding action was a beautiful square dated 1789 from Kilpatrick-Craig in Dunbarton with delicate scrollwork on the obverse and reverse. This piece was superb with uniformly smooth surfaces and lustrous patina gently softened by light gray toning. Here is the link: Kilpatrick-Craigs CT.
     The scrollwork on this piece represents a short-lived regional influence (same maker?) in the midlands near Glasgow that is very popular -- similar pieces are known for Port Glasgow, Lochwinnoch and Houston & Kilellan in Renfrew. This CT from K-C attracted 15 bids from seven bidders; it sold for $106. I am surprised that it did not bring more, as dated eighteenth century squares are popular to start with, plus this one was described as "very rare" -- it is not pictured in Burzinski. Remember also that a similar square dated 1797 from Houston & Kilellan (B3226) sold last April for $174. In a thin market, just one more bidder is all that was needed to wager a wallet war -- it could have been you!
Here is one that is not so pretty.
     Another great CT sold was a diamond from Glasgow that was dated 1783; this piece, too, was a lustrous gem of a token -- more shiny than the last. Diamonds are popular for their angles, and this one is a true diamond with acute and obtuse angles (versus wannabes that are squares rotated 45 degrees). Six bidders vied to take this one home, entering 14 bids overall and pushing the price to $97 (just shy of the HD mark). Here is the link: Glasgow Diamond CT.
     Two other CTs sold for over $75 in cobwrightfortishe's auction. A single-sided square with two Cs separated by a "dagger like cross" (per Burzinski's description), attributed to Edinburgh (B1371), sold for $88. This is somewhat of a mystery piece that appears to be from the mid-eighteenth century. In contrast, a much newer CT, an oval dated 1926 from Euclid Crescent in Dundee (B2145), was hammered down for $82.
     The latter CT was not the newest piece however, as a large square dated 1966 (B7228) ended the auction with a solid price of $36. It was a big square at 26mm adorned with a fish and made of nickel -- I suppose it was a celebratory token from the Wishaw congregation in Lanark, as a silver one is also listed by Burzinski.
     There were other nice CTs sold this week. Two Canadian CTs from Hamilton in Ontario sold at strong BIN prices. Also, two group lots of Glasgow-styled squares (always popular) sold relatively inexpensively.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

More info on Allegheny Communion Tokens

I received a copy of an article published in the TAMS Journal in June 1993 entitled: The Communion Tokens of the Second United Presbyterian Church of Allegheny Pennsylvania; the report was authored by Wayne Homren and Lawrence Dziubek. The article was sent to me by "Larry" Dziubek; he has been collecting CTs for a long while and knew Lester Burzinski quite well. TAMS stands for the Token and Medal Society.
     The authors provided some additional information about the CTs from this church, plus an overview of the church history -- most of this history was subsequently included in Charles Culleiton's book on CTs of Allegheny County published in 2004 (this book was mentioned in last week's post).
     The article notes that a branch of the Associate Presbyterian Church (APC or AC) was formally established in Allegheny in October of 1837. Of course, European settlers had been moving into the area since the 1790s. A church was erected soon after the congregation was established. Times were difficult in those early days, as the church suffered financial troubles, nearly losing their land in 1843. A tornado swept off the church roof in 1846, and cholera took many lives in the region in 1854. But the congregation persevered.
     The church was rechristened as the Second United Presbyterian Church of Allegheny in 1858 to reflect the merger of several church denominations that henceforth made up the United Presbyterian Church of North America (UPC). This is the name of the church found on the tokens, so it provides the starting point for when the oval CTs were used.
     After the American Civil War, there were several splits in the congregation. In 1873, a new minister was installed: Reverend W. H. MacMillan -- he served until 1911. He made a number of changes within the church: the pew rental system was abolished, a new version of the Psalms was introduced, organ music was integrated into the service, and the use of communion tokens was halted.
     As such, we are left to ponder: When was the use of CTs actually stopped? Until we find a diary of a parishioner that was present on the day when the tradition was ended, we can only say that the CTs were discontinued sometime during Rev. MacMillan's tenure. Perhaps the session records can tell us.
Here are the obverses of the two tokens. The Type1 token
is on the right. Note how the struck piece on the left is
much sharper and has more ornaments.
     Putting all this together, we can guess that the CTs were used between 1858 and 1911. It appears that Rev. MacMillan took office with an agenda, as his achievements appear to reflect a desire to update the church services. Many churches discontinued using CTs before 1900.
     Homren and Dziubek have labeled the molded 2nd UP Church Allegheny CTs as Type1 pieces, whereas the struck CTs are labeled as Type2 pieces. Of particular interest is how the Type1 pieces were discovered. Apparently, the Type2 (struck) CTs were long known to collectors, but the Type1 pieces were discovered "a few years ago." Since the article is dated 1993, this suggests a discovery date not too long before that. 1980s?
     As the story goes, a small canvas bag of tokens was discovered in an old home, located in western PA. The house was being dismantled after having been damaged in a fire, and the token bag was discovered lying in a puddle of water somewhere inside. This is when the molded CTs (Type1) were first discovered. The molded CTs are fewer in number and presumably represent the first batch of CTs from this church. Fascinating story! Still, I wonder how many tokens were in the bag?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Market Watch

This market watch reviews ebay auctions held between September 15 thru 21. There was a moderate level of activity in the marketplace this week with 29 CTs sold, five of them at BIN prices.
     The majority of CTs brought strong prices: five sold for over $50, twelve more sold for less than that but above $20, and another twelve were sold cheaply. The cheapest CT that traded hands was another one of those stock Canadian pieces (round Croil) that sold for a whopping $2 (thus far, 46 of these have sold since July).
     No HD or D tokens were sold this week, but a few in the $50+ range are worthy of mention. Of the 16 pieces offered by cobwrightfortishe on September 18, two of them were bid into this range. The highest hammer price of the week was pulled in by a bold, and rather staid, square from the Isle of Ulva in Argyll (BK1114). It was a large, single-sided piece at 22mm; the surfaces were smooth with an unblemished ashen patina. Six bids from four bidders cost the winner $69. Here is the link: Ulva Token on ebay.
     The number two spot went to a Canadian CT that is apparently common per the Charlton guidebook, but is distinctive enough to draw a crowd at each appearance. The obverse depicts the communion table with all the elements: a bold rounded loaf, flanked by two goblets, atop the table (or alter). A burning bush adorns the reverse. This round CT is from Saint Andrews Church in Quebec City and dates to about 1834 (CE242c). The guidebook states that "a good supply of tokens were made." Nine bids from six bidders put the hammer price at $60 -- exactly the value given in the guidebook. Here is the link: Quebec City CT on ebay.
     Other notables included: a 1751 square from Lethendy & Kinlock in Perth; a thinly engraved, narrow oval from Pictou in Nova Scotia; and a crudely-cut, sunken panel square dated 1726 from Blairgowrie in Perth -- all nice tokens, but for a bit of crusty corrosion on the latter. All told, this was a good week for token hunting with ample opportunity to add something to your collection.
     Keep in mind that the Simmon Gallery auction of CTs (and other UK exonumia) is nearing the closing date (October 15). There are many CTs to choose from, so if you have been looking to add some of the later types to your collection, the time is now. We will take another look at the Bob Merchant collection next week.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Still have some Communion Token Guides left!

It is not too late to get a CT guidebook!
     Here are some good reasons to get one. First, it is inexpensive: it costs less than some cut rectangles and little more than a common oval from the 1820s. Second, it is a quick and easy read with many photos but no tedious lists -- consequently, it provides for a pleasant weekend of reading and contemplating. Or, if you prefer, you can do like I always do, read one or two chapters in bed before turning out the lights. Third, it is a great introduction to CTs that can be passed to your collecting friends (or spouse!); better yet, give one as a gift to share your passion with other exo-numismatists. Fourth, and related to the last, you can share this book with your church congregation, as it provides an intriguing glimpse into the realm of church history; I have found that many Presbyterian ministers do not know about CTs -- some of them might be familiar with the practice of fencing the tables, but the use of tokens is novel. Fifth, the book got a great review on E-Sylum (the coin book review website), so that tells you that it is worth exploring, even if only to broaden your exonumia horizons.
     I have added a new page to describe the book in more detail (it will go up this weekend, so watch for it). You simply cannot go wrong, as most books cost more than this one -- although, I must confess that if you get serious about CTs, then you will have to get all the other books too! In the pages section of this blog, I have provided some excerpts of the book. Yes, it is a book targeted for those just starting out, but I think everyone will enjoy it, as there is new information about subtypes and regional variations that are not discussed in other books.
     In my own experience, I have always enjoyed reading coin books that are written by fellow collectors who share the passion. See the recent review of the book by Wayne Homren on E-Sylum. Check it out: it is a great site that provides a weekly newsletter that most (if not all) collectors will enjoy. Here is the link to the book review and the site: esylum at
     You can order the book from this link: Bookseller for Communion Tokens - A Guide for Collectors.
     Also, I have put some of the books for sale on Ebay ($12) with free shipping. I am limited to USA only for this deal, but I will shortly add an Ebay listing for Canada and the UK with discounted shipping -- I will do this next week. Finally, the book is available on Amazon and other big sellers.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Molded or Struck: Take your Pick!

Some CTs come in two varieties (or more). Last week's post got me thinking: Do some CTs of the same (or very similar) design come in both molded or struck varieties? Here is one that will look familiar to some of you.
Struck CT on left is sharper.
The spacing and ornamentation are different.
     In August, I briefly profiled a CT from Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, that sold on ebay for $225 in a BIN offering. It was a struck oval (B339) from the Second United Presbyterian Church that was undated but likely to have been used after 1858 since this was the date that the church adopted this name. At the time, I pictured a molded variety of the token (B340). Well, I have more pictures, so let's compare them.
     The differences are immediately obvious. At first glance, you may find yourself squinting and rubbing your eyes, as the molded one appears blurry. Worn dies? Perhaps. But the fact is: molding produces a softer design. The lettering is more rounded at the edges, and the details are not nearly as sharp. Of course, the dies are different too (we will get to that shortly). But for now, notice how the relief of the letters are less consistent and the dotted border is less clear.
     Note the thickness of the molded piece; it is meaty with more fat -- not lean and cut like the struck token. And the seam formed where the obverse and reverse dies meet is prominent. All this is not to regard the molded CT negatively -- it is what it is. There is a story here that deserves exploration.
     We also can see that the dies are cut differently too. The struck piece is not only sharper, but it has different decorative elements. The lettering is spaced differently. Perhaps the most distinctive aspect is the detail of the communion cup -- the struck piece depicts an ornamented cup that sits atop a loaf of bread. The molded cup is smooth with a plain stem and thick base (it is also a bit distorted at the top on this particular specimen). The molded cup sits on a flat plane.
     I wonder if these tokens were made for the same service? They are both undated, so it could be that these tokens were used over and over again. A new batch might have been produced to augment a dwindling supply, or they could have been ordered for a new communion event. Alternatively, the elders might have been dissatisfied with the first batch, so a second batch was made. I think the first two scenarios are more likely.
This guidebook is useful if you seek
CTs from PA. It is available from
booksellers like Rich Hartzog. 
     Since the congregation met for about 50 years, it is reasonable to assume that more than two communion events were held. Plus, no other CTs are known from this congregation. Many churches adhered to a standardized design (or even used stock tokens) during the late period of CT usage (i.e., after 1850). For collectors, this re-use hypothesis behooves them to get one of each.
     You might be surprised to know that the Western Pennsylvania Numismatic Society published a short book in 2004 written by Charles Culleiton entitled, Communion Tokens of Allegheny County. This 102-page book lists all the communion tokens from the region and provides church histories for each congregation that issued CTs (24 listed in all).
     Allegheny county is located in the region south of Pittsburgh. It was settled in the mid to late 1700s by successive waves of Scottish and Scotch-Irish settlers who were at the forefront of the westward movement.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Weekly Market Watch

This market watch examines ebay CT sales for the week of September 8 thru 14. It was a moderately active week with 35 CTs sold. All of us, but one, missed a nice token.
     Just over half of the tokens sold for under $20 with fifteen more selling in the middle range below the $50 mark. There was one D token that brought spirited bidding to reach a hammer price of $82. It could have brought more in my opinion -- see below. Also, two more Croil tokens from Canada were sold bring the total of the grouping to about 30 pieces distributed in the past two months. About half of the CTs sold this week came from the near weekly offering from cobwrightforthishe: he sold 16 pieces on September 11th, including the D oval from Ayr.
     As before, these prices illustrate week after week how relatively inexpensive CT collecting can be. Ebay auctions and BIN stores seems to be the place to find a steady supply of tokens, plus occasional auctions like the one coming up from Simmons Gallery. Also, Steve Hayden -- the South Carolina exonumia dealer -- has a long list of tokens on his website (several from Burzinski's collection). But you have to know where to look, as I spotted a cut rectangle CT for sale in Coin World (September 16th) for over $100 -- every once in a while a common piece will be priced high because many folks do not know what they are and do not appreciate that many newer pieces are available for low bucks. In fact, some churches are still selling off old stashes of CTs (e.g., Balquidder & Cruden).
     As mentioned above, there was one D token sold this week: a very nice handcrafted oval from Kilmarnock in Ayr (B232). Nine bids from six bidders pushed the price over the $75 mark, earning this specimen the Desired designation. This piece was the plate specimen in Burzinski's catalog and came from his collection. It is a special CT in a number of other ways too. First off, it is a beautiful CT with a bold shark-toothed border -- it looks ready to bite (so hold it carefully). The oval shape appears narrow at 33x25mm but with oddly peaked curves on the top and bottom. But there is more ... .
     The CT is from the Associate Church and was produced at a time when neighboring AC congregations were using fairly standardized square tokens with the same toothed border and a single circle (sometimes oval) motif in the center. This practice was regional as well as limited to AC congregations. Furthermore, these Ayr-styled squares used a three-letter abbreviation for parish (K in this case) and denomination (A and C) -- these letters were placed along the rim on three sides at 3-, 9- and 12-o-clock. Both B230 and B231 reflect this style.
     So what is B232? It is an oval version of the same design. It has the same big teeth (bigger even), the same three letters in nearly the same locations, and the date (1818) is at the bottom right where it should be. It is single-sided too. Call it what you want: a transitional piece, a deliberate deviation ... either way, it is way cool! Keep in mind that the AC was using distinctly narrow ovals in many other areas of Scotland at this time, so maybe this was a copycat, but with the familiar elements mentioned above. In particular, I love how the letters were embedded in the jaws lined with teeth!
     I wish I had bid on it, but I missed it. Congrats to whoever got it -- it is a unique style among CTs!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Communion Tokens are often molded just like Fishing Lures

CTs have a particular look and feel. They are quite unlike other tokens made of copper, brass and nickel, particularly the older pieces.
     New collectors immediately notice the difference. They are thick, often chunky, with slightly rounded edges and soft lettering. They are cast lead! Just like a fishing lure.
     We have seen a few in the blog with deeply incused figures. This was the easy way to make a token: cast a shape and impress it with a few initials or a date. This production method was time-intensive and did not produce identical tokens.
A stone mold for single-
sided square from Salton
as illustrated in Brook.
     A better way was to cut a few figures (and perhaps some decorative elements) into the die. Of course, all this was done by hand with a small chisel. Often the letters were boldly made with thick stems and prominent serifs, as this was easier to do and allowed a certain amount of misjudged cuts to be swallowed up in a thicker line. Alternatively, we find extremely thin letters that appear to be not much more than rude scrapes in the metal. Indeed, inexpert hands were often coaxed to make the early CTs that we presently find quaint and charming.
     These backyard, or should I say churchyard, manufactures are romanticized by collectors. Handmade and primitive is a style nowadays. But back in the day, it was an expediency. Even the hired blacksmith or plumber probably struggled to make these diminutive objects. Shaping a clasp or stave or shoe was much easier -- these objects paid the rent.
An iron or brass pair of molds pictured
in Brook. Four pins (at corners) keep
the molds in alignment.
     Nonetheless, many molded CTs were produced from handcrafted dies. Many of them were marked on one side only, but a surprising number were two-sided pieces made from folding molds held together by a hinge and locked in alignment with a large pin. The Reverend Thomas Burns provided a nice illustration of a hinged mold in his book entitled, Scottish Communion Plate, published in 1892. So too, Alexander Brook provided several nice illustrations of these molds in his monograph entitled, Communion Tokens of the Established Church of Scotland, published in 1907.
     Lead was widely available in Scotland. It was relatively cheap. It was soft, malleable and had a low melt temperature. Perfect for CTs and fishing lures. Tin was added in the mix to produce a harder alloy. And of course, there were likely to be some impurities present just to make things interesting on the finished token -- like an unexpected fissure or an odd spot or two.
     A few early CT molds have survived and now reside in museums. I have not seen any them up close and personal. But there is a chance to see, touch and possess a CT mold coming up in the Bob Merchant auction described in previous blogs. This two-sided mold is quite interesting, as seen in the photos provided by Simmons Gallery.
Lot 1154 is a lead/zinc pair of molds from Duirness that is
part of the Bob Merchant collection. This auction closes
next month on October 15th. Please note that this photo
is copyrighted by Simmons Gallery.
     Looking closely, we can see that the mold is not hinged, but fits together with a raised rim on one side and a contoured surface on the other. There are no pins to keep the alignment tight. The relief is deeper on the lower mold (presumably the reverse with the date 1803 barely visible), whereas the top piece is shallowly etched. A tunnel is cut in the lower mold to allow molten lead to be poured into the mold (or to escape if over-filled). Only the top part has a handle -- a thick knob -- that allows the craftsman to adjust the fit. The composition of the mold appears to be soft metal -- the auction listing states that it is not magnetic and probably made of lead & zinc. All told, a very crude piece of machinery for a relatively late CT.
     This is certainly a relic worthy of a museum. But collectors will have a shot at it: it listed as Lot 1154. It is one of last lots in the auction that closes on October 15th. The reserve value is 500 BPs (or about $800); the estimate is twice this amount. The mold comes from Duirness Kirk in the northern shire of Sutherland. As you can see, it produces a straight rectangle (B2095).

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Weekly Market Watch

This market watch examines ebay CT sales for the week of September 1 thru September 7. It was an active week with 46 CTs sold, including a few significant pieces that brought big dollars. CTs that sell for over $100 are described as HD CTs, and those that sell for over $75 are described as D CTs -- highly desired and desired respectively. But of course, you could get lucky and grab something you really wanted for few dollars! Remember that luck favors the prepared.
     There were three HD tokens sold this week. All of them are rare. The highest price paid was for a cut rectangle, dated 1864, from Otepopo in New Zealand; it sold at auction with one bidder for $250. The other two HD pieces sold for BIN prices of $125 each -- these were Canadian CTs from Eldon and Kingston, both located in Ontario. These three sales are detailed below.
     Of the 46 CTs sold this week, 28 sold for under $20, whereas another 13 traded in the middle range below $50. Two pieces were bid past this mark, plus the above-mentioned HD tokens. These numbers suggest that CTs continue to represent an inexpensive collecting challenge for the most part -- so join in and get one or two! 
     The week started off bright and early with 16 CTs offered by cobwrightfortishe on September 1st. These were mostly eighteenth century pieces -- all from the Andrew Macmillan collection. This assemblage included several squares with incused designs from Argyll and a set of molded squares from Monymusk in Aberdeen. As usual, the quality was high for the most part. A very nice square from East Kilbride in Lanark led the way with five bidders competing to produce a hammer price of $68. This piece showed horizontal lettering in four lines and was dated 1777; this rather staid design was lightly ornamented with a couple of stars and dotted border (B3652). Squares of this type represent a particular style that was popular in Lanark and Ayr at about the same time as the Glasgow squares. Here is the link: East Kilbride CT.
     The New Zealand CT that brought in a whopping $250 was sold with one bid. This is the third highest price paid for a CT this year, sitting behind the pair of of Dunfermline CTs that sold in July and the just a tad higher than the BIN price paid for the Allegheny PA token sold in the first week of August.
     I am not familiar with NZ CTs, but Burzinski cataloged the piece as coming from the parish of Herbert in Otago (B5446). The token is inscribed with the name Otepopo, as this was the old name of the community (here is another example of Burzinski using the newer name in the index). It is apparently a very small town surrounded by pastureland. The Otago region is located in the southern part of the South Island of NZ. This region was settled by Scottish immigrants of the Free Church who arrived in March of 1848 on two ships. They had embarked from Greenock in Renfrew. The principal city in the area is Dunedin.
     As you can see by the photo, the token appears to be in nVF condition with fine grained surfaces and ashen patina with lighter highlights about the devices. It is labeled as "rare" -- of note, Burzinski did not have an image of this one. The link is here: Otepopo New Zealand CT.
     As for the pair of Canadian HD CTs, these pieces sold at a fixed price on the same day -- I would guess that they sold to the same buyer who recognized that these tokens are listed as "rare" in the Charlton catalog (CW242 & CW276B2). Interestingly, both pieces have been for sale for nearly a year before finding the right buyer. One and a quarter is not that much cash -- now, don't you wish you had got one of them? They were sold by citcns, a Canadian dealer that I have purchased some nice CTs from and that I recommend. The links are here: Eldon Ontario CT and Kingston Ontario CT.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Communion Tokens cataloged by Burzinski: Using the Book!

Most CTs are cataloged by Burzinski numbers. Typically one B will do for the prefix, or a BZ -- I opt for a single B. Be yourself!
Each listing is alphabetical
most of the time or by parish
some of the time.
     Even though Lester Burzinski's numbering scheme has become the standard in the field, I have been reminded by seasoned collectors that many useful guides have come before (Brook, Dick, Creswell, Whitelaw and so on). In fact, Burzinski lists 21 guides in the front of his book. These previous works were used not so long ago, remembering that Burzinski did not publish his guidebook until 1999.
     That being said, many folks continue to use older numbering systems. Personally, I like to use BK and K&L numbers for the eighteenth century CTs, as the catalogs are easy to use and the images are clear. Still, I double-check everything with Burzinski's catalog.
     Using Burzinski is straightforward. He lists (or tried to) all CTs, from all countries, in alphabetical order by their inscriptions. This is similar to what Orr did with the Brook and Kerr & Lockie catalogs. So, for the most part, you can look up a token by reading the inscription. However, some tokens have multiple inscriptions -- parish name, church denomination, date, minister. All this data is placed inside or outside a circle or oval or some other motif, so it can be confusing.
     There are many CTs that start with the church denomination -- such as Associate Church. Are they listed under A? No, they are not. In most cases, you have to look for the parish name. For example, an oval from Leslie (B4291) can be found under the letter L even though the inscription starts with Asso Cong. As such, Burzinski prioritized the parish name or the abbreviation of the parish name thereby confusing his otherwise neat alphabetical ordering.
     Most frustrating is when Burzinski has grouped tokens from the same parish together with little regard for the A-B-Cs. For example, Aberdeen CTs are grouped together (for the most part). So, when you look for B64, a rectangle with an O placed above ABD, it would make sense to look for it under the letter O in the guidebook. However, in this case you must remember that parish is prioritized. You also need to know that ABD means Aberdeen in order to figure this out. So, where is the token cataloged? Under A or course! Many folks have commented that he should have stuck to his A-B-Cs in these cases. To add more confusion, a round CT from North Church in Aberdeen (B111) comes later than the token just described -- despite the letter N preceding the letter O.
     In circumstances when the inscriptions are sparse, Burzinski does much better. Sometimes, the same inscription is used for many tokens, as in RPC (meaning Reformed Presbyterian Church). These are listed under Rbut you must match your token with the photo (if available) or the description of the dimensions. There are 50+ CT listings (B6014 to B6066) to look through. They are not arranged in any particular order, but this does not matter in instances when the collector does not know where the token is from. But when you do have some additional information, it would be nice to have the listings arranged alphabetically by locality.
     Tokens without inscriptions are listed at the end of the catalog starting with B7290. This is where more photos are sorely needed. This is where Bason's catalog with drawings for nearly every USA CT is essential. Also, it behooves collectors to keep a file of images from auction sales that are not available in the standard catalogs.
     Despite these difficulties, a diligent searcher will find the listing eventually (unless you have a maverick). A step-wise search procedure is helpful: 1) Go with the A-B-Cs remembering to prioritize the parish name in some cases, 2) Check within a parish/shire if you already know it using the index, 3) Scan the photos (keeping in mind that they are arranged in alphabetical order). Be sure to try several options: go with the main inscription first, then look up some other part of it.
     As noted above, there is an index of all parishes located within a particular shire. The same goes for parishes located within a province (Canada) or within a state (USA) ... and so on. These indices are very useful, as they list all the CTs from that place. The spellings chosen for these places are modern, so if your CT is from Dvnboug, then look for a similar name in the index: Dunbog. It is not always this easy, as Conveth is listed under Laurencekirk in the index. Fortunately, both of these CTs can be found in the alphabetical listings by the old name or spelling.
     I think we all can imagine the monumental task faced by Lester Burzinski when he was organizing all this info. Errors are inevitable. Most of them are typos -- you will quickly find this out once you dig-in and start comparing the index with the listings and the listings with the photos and so on. There are some misspellings too: Sterling instead of the correct Stirling. The Scots recognize these kinds of errors straightaway, but for Americans who struggle with phonetics, it is not so obvious sometimes (I know, as I have misspelled place names too and never caught it -- yes, I blame part of it on my poor phonetic skills: I have never heard anyone say "Renfrew" or "Fife").
     The kinds of errors that are most troubling are the misattributions. It happens. New info comes in from time to time; old info is confused with new info; and transcribing errors occur in proportion to the number of data points we have to contend with. Think of it this way: each error is an opportunity to be the discoverer who gets to set the record straight (until someone comes along and sets it straight again ... and so on)!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Weekly Market Watch

This market watch examines Ebay CT sales for the week of August 25 thru 31. It was very slow week with only 17 CTs sold.
     All CTs traded hands for under $50 with 16 pieces selling for under $20. Seven more Canadian stock tokens were sold from what appears to be a hoard. So far, 35 round Croil tokens have been sold by seller asyn from Ontario since mid-July. Is there a story here? Maybe a supply from an old church? I have inquired where they came from, but no answer yet.
     One round CT from Kirkconnel in Dumfries (B3578) was purchased for a BIN price of $49. It was a "good" piece, worn with gray surfaces. It was dated 1734 -- eighteenth century CTs always attract attention.
     Have a good week of collecting!