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Civil War Tokens


Civil War tokens were minted and distributed by private interests and merchants in the United States between 1862 and 1864. They were used mainly in the Northeast and Midwest. The widespread use of the tokens was a result of the scarcity of government-issued coinage during the Civil War. From the years 1862 to 1865 metallic coins were slowly being withdrawn from circulation. Citizens were anticipating the possible increase in metal values and began hoarding gold, silver and copper. This phenomenon forced merchants and tradesmen to issue their own tokens in order that trade and commerce might continue unimpeded.

There were three types of Civil War Tokensstore cards, patriotic tokens, and sutler tokens. All three types were utilized as currency, and are differentiated by their designs. The collectible value of the tokens is determined chiefly by their rarity.

On April 22, 1864 the United States Congress passed a law prohibiting the issue of any one or two-cent coins, tokens or devices for use as currency. On June 8, 1864 an additional law was passed that forbade all private coinage. These laws brought and end to the phenomenon of Civil War tokens.

These copper and brass tokens remained largely underappreciated by mainstream U.S. coin collectors well into the twentieth century. George and Melvin Fuld’s “Patriotic Civil War Tokens,” published in 1960, helped to direct the spotlight on these interesting little tokens and collectors began to take notice. With the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Fort Sumpter around the corner, the hobby focus on Civil War Tokens is more intense than ever. Please take a moment to peruse our offerings.