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Did You Know That Civil War Sutlers Issued Tokens and Scrip Notes?

Sutlers were a fixture of many soldiers’ camps and forts and towns near battlefields during the American Civil War. These merchants sold a wide range of wares to soldiers, from necessities to small luxuries. To facilitate transactions, sutlers issued simple tokens made from base metal or cardboard to soldiers to whom they had extended credit. Sutlers issued scrip notes which are also very collectible.

Sutlers accompanied various units and issued tokens of different denominations, affording collectors a fascinating series of artifacts to collect. Whether by unit, denomination, or by topical motif, any number of interesting collections of Civil War Sutler tokens could be formed.

Many Civil War Sutler tokens have very simple designs, with text declaring the issuing sutler and the token’s denomination. Civil War Sutler tokens sometimes feature stock symbols including Union Shields, flying eagles, crossed sabers or cannons, although many are relatively unadorned. Some dies used to strike Civil War tokens were pressed into service producing Sutler tokens and numerous die sinkers produced pieces of both types. This close connection prompts some to collect Sutler tokens alongside Civil War tokens.

David Schenkman’s 1983 book Civil War Sutler Tokens and Cardboard Scrip is an invaluable resource for collectors interested in these tokens.

Numerous Sutler okens, many rare issues among them, will be offered in our June 2023 Showcase Auction, including The Bill Kelly Collection, one of the finest and most extensive collections of Civil War Sutler tokens ever offered. To view lots and bid in our June 2023 Official Auction of the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Expo, visit StacksBowers.com. To consign your numismatic items to one of our upcoming auctions, call 800-458-4646 or email [email protected].

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