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The March 2012 Baltimore Auction
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3/21/2012 2:00:00 PM
Live Floor and Internet Bidding Begins:
3/21/2012 3:00:00 PM PST
Undated (Circa 1694) Carolina Elephant Token. Hodder 2-F, Breen-193, W-12120. PROPRIETERS, O/E. Medium Planchet. Genuine--Code 98, Surfaces Tooled (PCGS).
Very Rare and Popular 1694 Carolina Elephant Token
From New Netherlands' 40th Sale, 1953
Burnished and chased. 155.5 grains. Well struck and well-centered on a broad planchet, with some evident doubling seen at denticles on both sides, an aspect encountered on higher grade examples of this type. The surfaces are now a rich dark chocolate brown with some hints of rose and green, residual from an earnest retoning perhaps a century ago. The obverse has only been lightly affected by the process, perhaps chamoised or something similar, as a few light short pinscratches and minor marks from a short stay in circulation remain. A pit is noted at the periphery near 10 o'clock. The reverse was burnished to remove surface corrosion, and under a glass some light granularity is still apparent. The letterforms somewhat thinner from the manual smoothing work, but there was no wholesale reengraving of the legend. The visible evidence of the E under the O of PROPRIETORS was removed. A curved scrape is noted near 4 o'clock at the reverse periphery. The overall appearance is of a pleasing high grade coin.
The attractiveness and interest of this type to a colonial collector from North Carolina is self-evident, and this type loomed atop Jim's want list before his acquisition of this piece in 2006. With very high grade pieces out of the price range of most collectors, and inexpensive low grade pieces making up a very small percentage of survivors, this example offers a nice balance: attractive if not perfect, well-detailed but not a king's ransoming Unc. The historical background of this issue remains shrouded in mystery. The Lords Proprietors were the eight men who were given control of Carolina by Charles II; seven of the eight relinquished their title back to the Crown in 1729 and North Carolina became a Royal colony. Examples of this issue turn up at market at only odd intervals, and this one went 50 years between auction appearances. It is among the highlights of the present offering.
Numismatic Reflections by Q. David Bowers
The Carolina Elephant token has always been a favorite of mine. In recent years, as described in my Whitman
Encyclopedia of Colonial and Early American Coins,
a counter theory has arisen to the effect that as there were two coffee houses in London, one named the Carolina and one named the New England, these pieces may have been tokens issued in relation to those. As mentioned above, no documentation has been seen. However, with regard to the New England piece, at the time the Massachusetts Bay Colony was not widely called New England, and this might give more credence to the coffee house theory. The elephant was a strange and curious animal at the time, and no doubt its appearance on the token attracted attention.
From the Collection of Jim Jones.
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