A long search finally yields for me the 1838 Hard-Times, Am I Not A Woman And A Sister Token.
Ive been on the prowl for the Hard-Times, Am I Not A Woman And A Sister token for some time. After looking through numerous E-Bay listings over time, Ive finally bought an example I am happy with. Most of the tokens I rejected were problem tokens or had a weakly struck date on the reverse. Many more were of a lower grade than I was seeking, and all were raw until now. This token is problem free with wear and toning that is consistent with its VF-30 grade.
The token was struck by Gibbs, Gardner & Company of Belleville, New Jersey in 1837 (dated 1838) during The Financial Panic of 1837. The token primarily circulated in New York and there are an estimated 500-1000 tokens that remain today. There is an accompanying, Am I Not A Man And A Brother token of which just three examples are known to exist.
My token is a near copy of a late 18th century Conder Token which circulated in Great Britain before slavery was abolished there. Hoping to lay the groundwork for an abolitionist movement in the United States the design of the Conder Token was adapted for use here. In the Red Book Guide of United States Tokens and Medals it is suggested that this token was the inspiration for Sojourner Truths famous 1851 speech, Aint I a Woman. Since she lived in New York she was likely familiar with these tokens that generally circulated from 1838-1843.
I have a lot of reasons for wanting this token, but the primary reason is that I have a good number of African-American friends, and I am trying to understand their perspective on American History as it pertains to slavery and race relations today. Therefore, this token will be the centerpiece of my research along with my 1860-O SS Republic shipwreck half-dollar. That ship laden with silver and gold was heading from New York to New Orleans when it sank in hurricane off the coast of Georgia. The money on board was intended by Northern investors to purchase land in the South during the re-construction period following the Civil War.
When I look at this token, it is a somber reminder to me of a people stripped of their dignity and basic human rights. The inspiration of this token then is as a symbol in the never ending struggle and will to be free. Therefore, this token will be included in my Inspirational Ladies custom set.
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