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    (1793) Ricketts's Circus Token, MS64 Brown
    Rulau-E-Pa-429, Only Five or Six Known
    First Token Struck at the U.S. Mint

    Pennsylvania 1793 Rickett's Circus MS64 Brown NGC. Rulau-E-Pa-429, Julian UN-32, R.8. Ricketts's was the earliest circus established in the United States, and its tokens were the first struck by the United States Mint, as covered in detail by Roger S. Siboni in a March/April 2015 article, "The Rickett's Circus Tokens," published in the Medal Collectors of America Advisory.

    Ricketts's Circus was founded by John Bill Ricketts, a Scot who emigrated to America in October 1792. He set up in Philadelphia at 12th and Market Street just a few blocks from Independence Hall. Ricketts started off by offering equestrian instruction but eventually graduated to giving circus performances by night, delivering his first on April 3, 1793. According to Siboni, more than 700 spectators attended that first show, and the evening was described in Dunlap's Daily Advertiser as "beyond expectation, beautiful, graceful and superb, in the highest extreme ... and the pleasure with which they were received were perfectly delightful." Within a matter of years Ricketts would expand his business up and down the East Coast, and even tour through Eastern Canada.

    Siboni makes a compelling case for this token having been produced by the U.S. Mint no later than 1795 or 1796 as an admission token, leaving "only the Major Henry Lee medal as a possible predecessor to the Ricketts's Circus token" as far as early mint products not intended for circulation. It is believed that silver tokens were issued for box seats and copper tokens for pit seats. Those with reeded edges, like this one, are accepted as originals, while plain edge copper examples, which are twice as thick and heavy as their reeded-edge counterparts, are considered mid to late 19th century restrikes produced from the original dies, which remained on-hand at the Mint through 1841.

    This is one of only five to six known original copper reeded-edge examples. Glossy mahogany-brown surfaces exhibit golden-olive accents. Both sides are fully struck and perfectly centered. A few carbon flecks and hints of aqua residue within the upper left reverse denticles may limit the grade, but they do not affect the appeal or ultimate rarity of this near-Gem token.
    Ex: Donald G. Partrick.

    View all of [The Donald G. Partrick Collection ]

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