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    (1694) London Elephant Token, MS61
    Unique Brass Impression
    Hodder 2-B

    (1694) TOKEN London Elephant Halfpenny, Thick Planchet, Brass MS61 NGC. Hodder 2-B, Breen-189, R.8. 172.0 grains. The elephant tokens were probably the work of the Rottier engraving family, John or his sons, James and Norbert. The dies "were preserved in the Tower of London for many years," according to C. Wyllys Betts. Examples are normally found in copper on planchets of varying thickness. The legend "God Preserve London" is thought to be a reference to the bubonic plague of 1665-66.

    Betts notes that the London, New England, and Carolina Companies were the chief agents for English settlements in America, and the trifecta of elephant tokens with a common obverse design connects those organizations, and establishes a common bond for these pieces as American colonial issues.

    The brass elephant token was recorded as Peck 505 (C. Wilson Peck, English Copper, Tin and Bronze Coins in the British Museum, 1558-1958, London, 1960, 1964), and the listing in Peck was taken from an earlier work by Hyman Montagu, The Copper, Tin and Bronze Coinage and Patterns for Coins of England, London 1893. Montagu wrote:

    "A pattern for a halfpenny which has considerably perplexed numismatists appeared about this time [1694]. It is commonly called the London halfpenny, and presents us with two varieties. ... This has occurred struck in fine brass."

    Despite the listing of this brass piece in 1893, there is no mention of the composition in the Betts reference, published the following year. It is nearly certain that the present piece, appearing in the 1871 Clay sale, is the same coin known to Montagu in 1893; he wrote that Rev. Professor Henry Christmas compiled a similar work in 1864. Henry Christmas (1811-1868) was an English clergyman who was active in numismatic circles. Sotheby's sold his collection at auction in February 1864, undoubtedly the sale where the Englishman, Charles Clay, acquired this coin.

    We have never seen nor heard of another, and there is no mention of this brass piece in the Whitman Encyclopedia of Colonial and Early American Coins. This example in brass is unique to the best of our knowledge, and an extremely important example for the advanced colonial specialist. The remarkable quality further adds to its cachet, featuring light yellowish-tan surfaces with no evidence of wear on either side. The planchet has a prominent crack at 9:30 relative to the obverse. The edge has file lines similar to those seen on the Rosa Americana copper coins, likely remaining from planchet preparation.
    Ex: Rev. Henry Christmas Collection; Charles Clay Sale (W.H. Strobridge, 12/1871), lot 146; later, Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society.

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 2U3A, PCGS# 55)

    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2014
    16th-17th Friday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 21
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,129

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    17.5% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

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