The online NGC Census now includes population figures for Hard Times Tokens, the popular 19th century series of politically satirical coinage.
The online NGC Census now includes population figures for Hard Times Tokens.
The NGC Census is a comprehensive listing of all the coins that NGC has certified,
detailing the total number certified of each issue along with a breakdown
by grade. The newly published Census of Hard Times Tokens includes over 2,000
individual tokens, and is available for free on NGC’s Web site: Hard Times Tokens in the NGC Census.
Hard Times Tokens, dating from 1832 to 1844, comprise a very popular and widely
collected series of patriotic, satiric, and merchant tokens. Beginning in 1832,
President Andrew Jackson sought to abolish the private Bank of the United States,
believing it favored the interests of the wealthy. He succeeded in 1837 by vetoing
the Second Bank, and instead funded state banks which were authorized to issue
their own currency. The plan failed and hundreds of banks became insolvent. An
economic crisis ensued, providing diverse source material for these tokens.
Hard Times Tokens were comprehensively catalogued by New York coin dealer Lyman
Low at the turn of the century, describing over 180 tokens and defining the
series. This work was revised by Russell Rulau beginning in the 1980s, and renumbered
with HT- numbers. NGC uses Rulau’s numbering convention for its certification,
and organizes the census in ascending order of HT- number.
HT-34. The obverse of this token shows a donkey
surrounded by the slogan I FOLLOW IN THE STEPS
OF MY ILLUSTRIOUS PREDECESSOR, a reference to President
Martin Van Buren who pledged to continue Jackson’s
contested fiscal policy.
The reverse shows a tortoise who ambles away
with an empty chest on its back, labeled SUBTREASURY.
Most pieces in the series are roughly the size of large cents,
and struck in copper or brass. Many pieces include strong satiric
imagery, including the portrayal of Jackson as a boar and a donkey.
Other pieces have a decidedly more numismatic bent, such as Feuchtwanger
Coinage. Dr. Lewis Feuchtwanger’s alloy of copper, nickel,
zinc, and tin was proposed as a low-cost alternative to the copper
composition used for making large cents. A number of experimental
one cent pieces were struck and entered into commerce. They appear
in the Hard Times Tokens census by their catalog number HT-268.
NGC also designates die varieties for Feuchtwanger Cents.
HT-71. President Jackson emerges from an empty
chest, representing the treasury, which he appears
to have plundered. The legend I TAKE THE RESPONSIBILITY
clearly blames the President.
The reverse again mocks Jackson, who was given
an honorary law degree — the LL.D. shown
on the donkey’s side. VETO refers to his
stand against legislation for the Second Bank,
which some opponents believed overstepped his constitutional
NGC began its certification service for medals and tokens five years ago.
Tokens and medals are graded at regular tier rates, but should be submitted
separately from coins. A list of Tokens and Medals eligible for NGC Certification
is available on our Web site: Tokens
and Medals Certification from NGC. Questions regarding the NGC Census
or medals and token grading can be directed to NGC Customer Service by phone
at 1-800-NGC-COIN or by e-mail at Service@NGCcoin.