(Pelham, Alabama) — Whitman Publishing announces the release of a revised and updated third edition of the award-winning Guide Book of Civil War Tokens, by Q. David Bowers. The 512-page book debuted during the 2018 holiday season, and is now available online (including at Whitman.com) and from bookstores and hobby shops nationwide. Its retail price is $39.95.
Civil War tokens are metal “coins” (actually not legal tender) privately issued by American tradesmen and others during the conflict. These tokens were used to advertise businesses and also to grease the wheels of commerce during the coin shortages caused by the war. By the summer of 1862, nervous citizens had hoarded all of the nation’s gold and silver coins and even its small copper-nickel Flying Eagle and Indian Head one-cent coins. This caused a financial emergency as it became nearly impossible to make change for everyday transactions. Millions of private tokens became substitutes for official U.S. coins, spent and accepted as 1¢ each by the public. Today these tokens are highly collectible. Values generally range from $15 for common, circulated pieces to more than $15,000 for rarities including unique tokens. In recent years, with eBay offerings, professional auction listings, and other opportunities to buy and sell, Civil War tokens have emerged as a dynamic part of the hobby marketplace.
The Guide Book of Civil War Tokens is a complete history and price guide. The third edition features new resources including an index of more than 20 die-maker ascriptions, organized by maker and Fuld number. This covers the nation’s most productive die-makers such as John Stanton and Emil Sigel, as well as more obscure sources including John D. Lovett and Mossin & Marr.
It also has a new index of tokens organized by the occupation or service of the issuer. This includes more than three dozen types of merchants—bakers, brewers and distillers, hoteliers, jewelers, pharmacists, doctors, saloonkeepers, and others who issued so-called store cards.
The first and second editions of the Guide Book of Civil War Tokens, released in August 2013 and December 2014, won national awards including the Token and Medal Society’s Mishler Exonumia Cataloguing Award and an Extraordinary Merit Award from the Numismatic Literary Guild.
Features include an illustrated appendix on sutler tokens (private issues of government-licensed contractors who typically operated camp stores in connection with traveling military regiments); biographies of selected Civil War token engravers and coiners; information on non-contemporary issues; and an appendix on encased postage stamps (another form of emergency currency issued in 1862).
Among the third edition’s features are hundreds of individually updated values based on today’s market, coordinated by valuations editor Steve Hayden; and numerous edits capturing the latest research in this active field. “The vast majority of Civil War tokens are very affordable in grades of Extremely Fine or higher and range in price from a few tens of dollars to a few hundred,” said Bowers. “There are so many possibilities, anyone can with care assemble a notable collection at modest expense.”
Bowers, widely regarded as the “Dean of American Numismatics,” wrote A Guide Book of Civil War Tokens with the cooperation of leading organizations, museums, libraries, collectors, dealers, and researchers. Also instrumental were the Civil War Token Society (in particular), the American Numismatic Society, the Token and Medal Society, and the American Numismatic Association. The book includes more than 2,000 full-color images, plus values in multiple grades, rarity ratings, detailed historical background, a study of how Civil War tokens were manufactured, ways to collect them, identification of unusual varieties, and information on the potential for valuable new discoveries. It covers both patriotic tokens and “store cards” (merchant advertising tokens), as well as sutler tokens (some of which used Civil War token dies) and encased postage stamps of the era. Nearly every known Civil War token die is described in both pictures and text.
Award-winning researcher John Ostendorf calls it “a must-have book for Civil War token collectors, who will benefit from Dave Bowers’s decades of research, presented in a very readable format.”
“There is no other reference like the Guide Book of Civil War Tokens,” said Whitman publisher Dennis Tucker. “It is the only full-color illustrated price guide to these collectible pieces of Americana. With a small investment of $39.95—about the price of a common copper token in Extremely Fine condition—a collector, dealer, or appraiser can become an expert on Civil War tokens and sutler tokens.”
“No book on how to collect Civil War tokens has ever been as thorough,” said Dr. George Fuld, a well-known expert in the field. “I expect that it will be a standard reference for years to come.” Fred Reed, another specialist in Civil War money and past editor of the Token and Medal Society Journal, said, “Every collector of this series will esteem this volume, and every historian or serious writer on the Civil War should consult its colorful pages in the future.”
In addition to being available at bookstores and online, A Guide Book of Civil War Tokens can be borrowed for free as a benefit of membership in the American Numismatic Association, through the Dwight N. Manley Numismatic Library (money.org/library). ANA members receive 10% off copies ordered through Whitman Publishing, the Official Supplier of the Association.
Volume 16 in the Bowers Series
By Q. David Bowers ∙ Foreword by John Ostendorf ∙ Reminiscence by Dr. George Fuld
ISBN 0794846467 ∙ 512 pages ∙ 6 x 9 inches, softcover ∙ Full color ∙ Retail $39.95