Last Sunday I asked: "Where are all the USA tokens?"
While at the Baltimore Expo in early November I found some.
In particular, I spied a rectangular piece with rounded corners from Newburgh, New York. I had a chance to buy it, but passed. My wife would be happy to know this, but I decided to not mention it -- why fan the flames of denunciation?
But like many collectors who have been in this situation, I am still thinking about it, quietly.
It is a simple piece with UPC/NB on the obverse. The reverse is blank. The letters were punched in separately, so they are uneven in a way that announces its improvised production -- of course, they are incuse. The letter punches are thin as seen in printing. No two tokens are identical, but all are cataloged as B7042 or Bason-96.
It is rare? Yes.
When did you last see one?
The Presbyterians organized in Newburg, NY, in the 1770s. There is mention of a wooden church being erected in 1793. In 1817, the congregation had about 100 members. In 1855, about half this number withdrew to organize the Calvary Presbyterian Church -- a new brick church was built and dedicated in 1858.
On the national stage, the Associate Reformed Church and the Associate Presbyterian Church joined together to form the United Presbyterian Church (UPC). Consequently, the Newburgh token is likely to date sometime after this merger. But which church? Calvary?
Both Bason and Burzinski list a similar token from New York City (attributed to a church on West 44th Street). This other one is also rectangular with rounded corners. It is simply punched too (but with periods added): U.P.C. Is this relevant? Your guess is as good as mine.
In any case, both are rare. But they are an acquired taste -- not pretty, just a once-functional bit of Presbyterian history. There are not many collectors of USA CTs out there to start with. In fact, one dealer once quipped that there are so few USA CTs available in the marketplace that it is hard to keep the motivation high enough to seriously collect them. But I am sure, this CT is on someone's want-list.
I wonder how many collectors of USA CTs are out there?
One aspect of the marketplace that I have noticed is that there are clearly defined subgroups of CT collectors with few cross-overs.
Those collecting the Scottish series are legion, as there are more than enough tokens to go around. Consequently, prices are reasonable. And, motivation to get a few more is high. On ebay, you can see these collectors bidding over and over again. The usual suspects show up for each auction.
In fact, if we look at ebay prices for the past three months, the top three tokens reflect three different collecting groups. The highest priced tokens have come from Jamaica (sold for $338 on November 17), New Zealand (sold for $250 on September 1), and Ireland (sold for $197 on November 9). There was almost no overlap between bidders on these pieces, or between these bidders and those who have bid on the top Scottish pieces. I counted only one cross-over bidder among the competitors.
Is there a separate group of folks waiting for a USA CT to come up for auction? The last USA piece that sold on ebay was an Allegeny, PA, token that sold at a BIN price of $225 on August 8. In contrast, a New York oval, dated 1799, did not sell in January at a start price of $995. Several bidders vied for the New York pieces offered by StacksBowers in mid-August -- but of course, these were exquisite pieces from a great collection. Four pieces sold for prices between $190 and $425 a piece.
How much interest would the Newburgh, NY, piece bring?