Carolina Elephant Token

Question: I noticed you sold a Carolina Elephant token through auction, and I’ve always wondered why they were struck. Any information regarding the history of these tokens would be greatly appreciated. — I.F.

Answer: Thank you for your inquiry. Did you know that the Lords Proprietors named on the 1694 Carolina Elephant token were the eight men who were given control of Carolina in 1663? Or was this the case? It would have been the right answer had we been playing Jeopardy! a few years back.

Today, another possibility is that the Carolina coffee house in London, where these tokens were made, was given a blessing, so to speak, for avoiding the plague that was sweeping the city. More details in the Whitman Encyclopedia of Colonial and Early American Coins.

The token’s reverse reads GOD PRESERVE CAROLINA AND THE LORDS PROPRIETORS 1694. If it had anything to do with the Carolina colony in America, you may be interested in knowing that the grant extended on the coast from the modern Georgia-Florida state line to the Albemarle Sound and as far west “to the South Seas.”

In 1665 a new charter gave the Lords Proprietors control from the present Virginia-North Carolina border south to near modern-day Cape Canaveral in Florida. No one knows exactly why the Carolina Elephant token was struck—or the kindred London Elephant token for that matter.

By 1694, only one of the original eight Lords Proprietors in America was still alive (then 88 years old), with the other men’s claims on the territory changing by descent. As to the lords and proprietors of a London coffee house, we know nothing. Perhaps it was only mortality from which the Lords Proprietors, either in Carolina or in London, needed preservation.
I hope this helps a bit. Thank you again.

Dave Bowers

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