Only 24 minted, and it’s 161 years old …

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by johnmilton, Oct 26, 2021.

  1. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    What’s the catch? It’s a political token, not a coin, from the 1860 presidential campaign.

    SD 1860-22 All WM.jpg

    The reported mintage for this Stephen Douglas political token in white metal was reported to be 250.

    SD 1860-22 CU All.jpg

    The mintage in copper was 72.

    Interest in coin collecting exploded in the U.S. after the large cent was discontinued in 1857. That interest expanded to tokens and medals as well as coins. A rare medal was as popular, and just as valuable, as a rare coin in those days.

    George Lovett was a member of a family of die makers who have a huge following today. He was born in 1824, and after learning the die making trade from his father, Robert, he started a die making career that lasted for more than 50 years. He was the most prolific die maker in the Lovett family.

    In 1860, he made a pair of dies for Democratic presidential candidate, Stephen Douglas. The obverse featured a portrait of Douglas with his name surrounding it. The reverse featured the slogan, “Intervention is disunion, 1860," surrounding the letters, “M. Y. O. B.” I interpret this as a swipe at the abolitionists in the North who were calling for an end to slavery. The initials stand for “Mind Your Own Business.”

    While slogans like this might seem odd for a northern city, like New York, it must be remembered that many New York City businessmen had made significant incomes from their dealings with southern slaveholders. When the Civil War started, that income dried up, and many business people were looking to resume that lucrative trade. Some New Yorkers even advocated that the city should secede from the Union and form its own state so that they could resume their southern trade.

    These were small tokens which were only 20 millimeters in diameter. They were probably intended as a novelty to hand out to voters. The highest mintage was 250 pieces in white metal. Other mintages were 20 in silver, 72 in brass and 72 in nickel. After these pieces were made, Lovett probably modified the dies to make the next variety.

    SD 1860-22 AG All.jpg

    The reported mintage for this piece in silver was 24.

    A second variety of this design had a few additions. On the obverse, Lovett added the phrase “Little Giant” on either side of the Douglas portrait. “Little Giant” was Douglas’ political nickname. Although Douglas stood only 5 feet, 4 inches tall, his political stature was far greater than his height.

    On the reverse, Lovett added two small stars above and below “M. Y. O. B.” on either side of the previous larger star and one star on each side of the date, “1860.” This variety was probably made for collectors. The mintages were limited to 24 pieces in silver and 21 pieces in nickel.

    I purchased this silver piece because of the reported mintage. I paid $270, which didn’t seem like that much given given its excellent state of preservation and the reported mintage. I have not seen another one offered.
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2021
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  3. expat

    expat Remember you are unique, just like everyone else Supporter

    An excellent piece of history, and a beautiful piece of silver. I wonder out of such a small mintage how many actually survive today. Thanks for sharing
    ddddd and johnmilton like this.
  4. Parthicus

    Parthicus Well-Known Member

    Very nice! I have a couple of Civil War Tokens that are also campaign pieces for Abraham Lincoln's re-election campaign in 1864:
    Lincoln And Union.jpg Lincoln:Johnson.jpg
    The first one ("Lincoln and Union") has a rarity listing of R-5 in Full, which corresponds to 76-200 pieces known. Not quite as rare as your Douglas piece, but still pretty scarce, I'd say.
  5. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    That Lincoln piece has always been one of my favorites. Many of them had a silver wash when they were issued, as this one once did.

    128-289b O.jpg 128-289b R.jpg

    I had a hard time finding a nice example of this piece because many of them have ruined with a drop of soldier on the reverse. My theory is that a number of these pieces had a stick pin attached so that they could be worn. It may have been done after Lincoln was assassinated and people wore them as mourning pins.

    There are two minor varieties of the second piece in your collection. The easiest way to tell is to look for Robert Lovett's (another member of the Lovett die making family) initials on the Lincoln side. One variety has them, and the other doesn't.

    132-149a O.jpg 132&132ARev.JPG

    132A-149a O.jpg 132-149a R.jpg
  6. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Supporter! Supporter

    Nice lesson John. Thanks once again for the post(s).
    johnmilton and expat like this.
  7. ksparrow

    ksparrow Coin Hoarder Supporter

    excellent post and nice (rare!) token.
    johnmilton likes this.
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