Sunday, November 30, 2014

CT Museum at the Presbyterian Heritage Center

I recently received several photos from Claude King who visited the museum at the PHC located in Montreat, NC. He has been collecting CTs and visiting the blog for the past year or so.
     The pictures he shared will be of interest to all CT collectors. If you are like me, after looking at these pictures, you will want to plan a trip to Montreat this summer to see for yourself. The link to the PHC website is here:
     Montreat, NC, is located just off I40 in the western part of the state; the town itself is north of I40 just east of Asheville -- it is adjacent to the Appalachians (to the west) and national forests all around, so I am sure that the countryside is beautiful.
     The first picture of the earliest dated CT -- from Perth Kirk -- is quite interesting, as it is dated 1604! This predates the CP/1648 round CT from Crossmichael by nearly a half-century (BZ1606/BK240). I mention in my guidebook that the earliest reported (but with none surviving) dated CT is from Glasgow with a date of 1588 -- this report comes from the work of Burns, Whitelaw, and others.
     In particular, Burns quotes from the Kirk-Session in Glasgow on the 13th of April, 1588 as follows: "The session appoint some to speak to the Baileys about making a new stamp and carts for tickets." And quotes further that each ticket (i.e., token) should be marked "with this sign, 1588." We do not know what the "sign" was from this quote, but the reference to the date, and the direction to have the date stamped on the ticket, is clear.
     These researchers have also indicated that the Crossmichael CT is the oldest (or as Burns puts it: "one of the oldest" -- perhaps holding out for the chance of finding an older one) dated token that survives. Of note to collectors, one of these rare CTs was sold in May 2014 by Simmons Gallery from the Bob Merchant collection. It was bid up to 156 BP or about $250. This is actually quite cheap as far as rare coins or tokens go. Also, I should add that the attribution is listed as "uncertain" by Burzinski -- and Burns, too, raises some questions about this.
     So here we have one dated 1604. It is a rectangular piece with straight corners and bold rim. The lettering appears to be hand-cut -- particularly with the out-sized T in PERTH. Certainly the year is well within the range given above of 1588 to 1648 -- we would expect to see dated tokens during this period. Do we need to re-write all the CT guides? Is this the date of use, or the date of the church founding?
     Still, we have to ask: How did all previous catalogers, including Burzinski, miss this one? Burzinski traveled to Scotland several times -- did he ever visit the PHC?
     The other picture shown is of a CT die. This one is made of iron (per the description) and is completely embedded in a large block of wood. There is only one die, so the apparatus had to be sturdy enough to withstand repeated use. It is a one-sided die, such that the blank reverse was impressed by the wood block that was fit over the lower one with the die imbedded -- you can see the small square burn marks on the upper block. Two guide poles insured a regular fit.
     Molten lead cools very quickly, so it probably took a minute or less for the lead to harden enough to be picked out. Any extra lead would flow out of the mold through the small channel at the edge of the die. The shiny CT sitting next to the die looks new -- did they use the die to make one?
     The description identifies this die as coming from Bloomington, IN. Bason listed only a dozen CTs from Indiana with six of them coming from Bloomington. This one (Bason28/BZ5997)) is described in his text as a small, straight rectangle of 13x9mm, made of lead, and noted to be thick. As the photo shows, the token is one-sided with the letters RP in relief, surrounded by a slight border.
     Many thanks to Claude King for sharing these photos. He has sent some other photos of Charleston CTs (including a slave token) that I will post later this month. In the meantime, enjoy these on Claude's behalf. If you click on the photo, it will enlarge it for better study.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Market Watch

This market watch covers all CTs sold on ebay and other sources (when I stumble on them) for the month of October, 2014. It was an active month considering that 169 CTs were sold on ebay and nearly 500 were offered by Simmons Gallery (more precisely, 519 lots with 346 sold at auction -- not including post-auction sales which I do not have). About 15 or so of these latter pieces appeared to be metals/tokens, not CTs. In sum, we had about 169+336 (best guess) CTs sold this past month.
     For the CTs sold on ebay, we had 129 pieces go for less than $20 in the C range. Another 36 sold below $50 in the B range, whereas only 4 CTs sold above this mark, but below $75 in the BB range. Many good deals were to be had, as bidders were sleeping for some auctions. Comtok sold 62 CTs this month in three series on 10/13, 10/22, and 10/28. Also a series of octagonal pieces from Lesmahagow were offered with sequential table numbers ranging from 1 to 13, but missing Table 4. Some great deals were to be had: for example, a pair of Burntisland rounds dated 1744 (BZ875) sold for $8 a piece (two different varieties were represented). They were in great condition. Nice buys -- it was not me (wish it was).
     Topping the BB list was an oval dated 1829 from the St. Andrews Scots PC located in Buenos Aires, Argentina (BZ6434). I have never seen this one before. It attracted four bidders with five bids to win the piece at $73.
     Next on the list was a Nova Scotia CT from Earlton. It sold at the BIN price of $62. This one was cataloged as NS214 -- the price was correct, and maybe a bit low, according to the Charlton guidebook that provides a range of $70 to $90.
     Two Scottish CTs made the BB list. First, a Haddington (in Lothians) shield token dated 1818 (BZ7572) was hammered for $56 after four bidders casted seven bids. This is a popular token that usually comes very nice (probably NOS). Second, a 1795 castle piece from Edinburgh (BZ5296) was hotly contested with 11 bids from six bidders. This one, too, is a popular token and has sold for much more on ebay in the recent past. The castle motif is attractive and emblematic of the city, and Scotland overall. Both of these pieces came from comtok's offerings.
This is the oldest native CT from Canada according to the
Charlton guidebook. He apparently brought the molds
for this token from Canada. It is listed as NS304.
     The Simmons Gallery auction closed on 10/20 -- this was the fourth auction of CTs from the Bob Merchant collection -- he certainly had a big collection! There were 519 lots with 346 listed as sold on the first go-round (note that post-auction sales are not included). This sale deserves a more complete description, but for now I can say that all the Scottish pieces went for reasonable (that is, low) prices. The top bids went towards three Canadian CTs, three Jamaican CTs, and a maverick Mission Church token dated 1872 that was attributed to West Indies or African mission -- the latter piece sold for about $300.
     I was fortunate to get one piece from Truro in Nova Scotia (BZ6966/NS304) that sold for just over $80. In the Charlton guidebook, it is valued at half this price, but try and find one. If you have been reading this blog, then you know how much I like the Glasgow-styled squares: this is one that was made in Canada. I have not seen this one for sale before and had been wanting it since I mentioned it in my guidebook -- I included a picture. As you can see, it is a rather primitive piece with nice patina. I like that Nova Scotia is spelled out. Love it!
     As you can see, this blog has been quiet. I think readers would enjoy hearing what favorite CTs you have added to your collection lately. If you got something from ebay or Simmons Gallery, let us know.