Here is a political token that has been on my want list for at least 20 years. It is quite scarce. I have seen only about 4 or 5 pieces in auctions over the last two decades or so. For me the ideal piece would one struck in white metal with a hole at the top. This piece is struck on copper, which makes it rarer, with a layer of gold plating. It was perhaps given to a high official of the Democratic Party, or it might have been made for a 19th century collector. In any case this is the only piece that I have had to chance to buy when my finances dictated that I could buy it. The obverse features a portrait of Martin Van Buren, who was Andrew Jackson’s protégé and successor. The slogan reads, “The prudence and principles of our FORE FATHERS.” The reverse shows a farmer behind a plow and the slogan, “Who can justly appreciate liberty & equality … THE DEMOCRACY.” The message here is one that originated with Thomas Jefferson, the man whom most historians credit as the founder of the Democratic Party. Jefferson believed that true democracy rested with the yeoman farmer who owned his land, tilled his soil and was in many ways self-sufficient. The farmer was not dependent upon the big cities, banks and “stock jobbers.” The yeoman farmer was the true embodiment of liberty and virtue. Andrew Jackson shared those ideals. His election base was the farm vote, which made up 79% of the population in 1820. By 1830 it was down to 70%, but still a potent force. Jackson had his urban supporters, the day laborers and wage earners, but his biggest base by far was the farmer. He was a plantation owner, and given his military record, that made him the farmer’s hero. Van Buren was neither a farmer nor a military hero. He was a politician who had worked his way up from the son of a poor tavern owner to the highest offices in New York State and the national government. He needed to “stroke his base of support,” and that’s what his supporters were doing with this token. Doyle DeWitt, who wrote the first major guide on 19th political tokens, stated that he was not sure what year this piece may have been issued. It may have been distributed during the 1836 presidential campaign, or it may have been released after Van Buren took the Oath of Office on March 4, 1837. The theory is that it was issued to bolster the spirits of Van Buren’s agrarian base after the economy had been rocked by the Panic of 1837 which started a month after Van Buren took office. At any rate this piece offers some interesting political symbolism. Andrew Jackson was the first master of this version of “retail politics.” In 1824 he used his image as the hero of the Battle of New Orleans to stoke up support and continued do in 1828, 1832 and even in the 1834 off-year elections.