1838 Anti-Slavery Hard Times Token

Image by Elton Smith

1838 Anti-Slavery Hard Times Token image

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Hard Times tokens were minted in 1837 and 1838 when America was in a depression brought on by the unwise policies of the Andrew Jackson administration. People were hoarding coins and small change became hard to find. As a response, merchants began buying tokens from private mints at less than face value so they could make change in business transactions. Gibbs Gardner & Co. of Belleville, NJ produced both an "Am I Not a Man & a Brother" and "Am I Not a Woman & a Sister" token in response to the antislavery sentiments in the northern United States. Of the two tokens they made, the "Am I Not a Woman & a Sister" token was the only one released into general circulation. The obverse design was based on similar British tokens issued in the 1790's.

I was a teenager when I purchased this token in the 1960s. It is one of the most beautiful examples I have ever encountered, and I am amazed each time I look at it because of its pristine condition and its historical significance.

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Elton Smith2021-07-31Back in the late 60's I bought several interesting coins, including this one. It was in Pasadena Texas but that's all I remember. I enjoyed going to coin shows. I didn't pay much for this coin. Less than $40. I wasn't a very good book keeper, but I enjoyed coins.