Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Off-center Communion Token & the Machine Age

We have seen many blundered dies over the past year. Of course, the round token from Balmerino comes to mind -- retrograde 2 and upside-down 5 in a 1725 date is hard to beat (BK138). And how about the retrograde 6 on the Humbie token just a few weeks ago (BK521).
SFC CT struck off-center by 15%. I wonder if any
double-struck or extreme off-center pieces (30+%) exist?
     Today we have an off-center strike. As CT production became the business of professionals, the chance for these machine errors increased. Still, they are not encountered very often. Quality control was quite good.
     This cut-rectangle from Stockwell is off-center by about 15%. It was not bad enough to be thrown into the melt bin. But maybe it came to a similar fate -- that is, it was set aside by one of the elders. After all, it is new old stock with the glint of luster in recessed areas.
     This CT is cataloged as BZ6601. Many NOS examples of this one are available in the marketplace. I found a fixed price listing for a similar one (but centered) for under $20.
     This token was used by Minister J.S. Alexander on the last year of his tenure as depicted on the token itself: 1842 through 1860 -- he was the first minister, as the church was built in 1842. It became a Free Church in 1843. Stockwell FC was located in the city of Glasgow, but due to population movements, the church was closed, sold, and the building converted to a warehouse in 1886.
     From a historical perspective, this piece underscores the transition to commercial token-making. No longer did the elders work with the local plumber or blacksmith. And I doubt that they stood by at the factory that struck these cut-rectangles. They were probably made to order and packaged securely in a box. It was the beginning of the end.
     This error is not as romantic as those caused by a die-cutter tremors, or lack of tools, or poor mental flexibility preventing one from cutting molds accurately in reverse. No, this piece was done by a machine -- probably steam-powered.
     Token size had become all but standardized by this time: nearly all cut-rectangles measured 27x19mm. In the decades before, there were minor variations of one or two millimeters, but not now. In fact, 63% of all Glasgow CTs were cut-rectangles, and just over 50% of these measured 27x19mm -- nearly all of this latter group were post-1850 issues.
     If you have a more "severe" error CT from the post-1850s era, please share it.

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