Lot #3. 1796 Castorland Medal, or Jeton. Breen-1058. Original. Silver, Reeded Edge. AU-55 (NGC).
The September 2008 Beverly Hills Rarities Sale - 9/13/2008
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The vast majority of Castorland Medals encountered in today's market are Paris Mint restrikes with the metallic content impressed on the edge. Originals are highly elusive and, indeed, it has been quite some time since we have offered an example of comparable importance to this silver impression. Ample remnants of a prooflike finish flicker in the fields as the coin rotates under a light, this despite the presence of original toning in lavender-gray shades. Direct angles also call forth thin ribbons of electric-blue iridescence at the rims, but even careful inspection fails to reveal a significant abrasion. Accuracy does compel us to mention a tiny bit of obverse verdigris at France's eye, however, although the eye appeal still ranks as among the strongest that we have ever seen in an original striking of this type.
The Castorland Medals were originally struck in the Paris Mint for circulation in two French colonies in upper New York State. Both colonies--Castorville and Carthage--were settled in the 1790s by immigrants fleeing the Revolutionary Tribunal in France. Survivors of the original silver issue are very rare, the colonies eventually dying out by 1814 and their inhabitants either returning to France or settling in other parts of the American Colonies. Judging by the fact that most originals are worn to one degree or another, these coins did serve as a circulating medium of exchange for some unspecified period of time.