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(ca. 1829-34) William Rutter Red Store Hard Times token. Boston, MA. Low-327, HT-170. Copper. Rarity-7. AU-58 (NGC).

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(ca. 1829-34) William Rutter Red Store Hard Times token. Boston, MA. Low-327, HT-170. Copper. Rarity-7. AU-58 (NGC).

SOLD

From the John J. Ford, Jr. Collection.

Details

(ca. 1829-34) William Rutter Red Store Hard Times token. Boston, MA. Low-327, HT-170. Copper. Rarity-7. AU-58 (NGC). A classic and enigmatic rarity in the Hard Times token series, oddly marrying two dies that never much made sense together: the obverse depicts a crossed flute and clarinet while offering "songs and ballads," while the reverse identifies Wm. Rutter of Fulton Street, Boston as the issuer and offers "cash for old rags, junk iron, copper, brass, & c." As it turns out, the dies were very much meant to be together, as Rutter was a bookseller and publisher of low poetry and sheet music, including a song to the tune of Yankee Doodle that seems to be about getting beat up on your way home from a one-night stand and another about the Battle of Plattsburgh in the War of 1812. These broadsides were the songs and ballads Rutter sold, and the old rags he bought were used to print them. His sideline as a junk metal recycler may or may not have been related. The Yankee Doodle version was printed at the same address as on his tokens, Fulton Street, which the librarians at Brown note he occupied from 1829 to 1834. As for his tokens, they are very rare, and most are dog ugly, offering a panoply of problems from scratches to roughness, though most are not well worn. Their rotation is always off by about 90 degrees, and their centering is all over the place. The centering on this one, aligned to 6:00 on the obverse and 10:00 on the reverse, is identical to the one depicted in a line drawing in Benjamin Wright's still useful (and often cited) American Business Tokens, published in The Numismatist from 1898 to 1901 and reprinted by Quarterman in 1972. While I can't prove this is the Wright plate token from over a century ago, I can't find another example of this very rare token with the same centering. And, if you were to guess where the Wright plate piece would be hiding all these years, the John Ford Collection would probably be everyone's first guess. Storer wrote about this token in 1923 and noted that just 20 were struck "and their use was prohibited after they had been in use for only an hour." These have always been avidly sought. Wright called it "Extremely Rare" in 1898. The first piece I ever catalogued was in the 2002 Gil Steinberg sale (Bowers and Merena), earlier from the 1989 Steinberg sale by Stack's. I graded that piece "About EF" with a diagonal scratch and some "minor roughness;" it brought $1092 back then, a decade ago. The Miller-Littman piece was sold by Presidential in 2004, also called Extremely Fine, selling at $1322. Joe Levine also had the Sara Hinckley specimen in 2006, earlier from his 1989 Great Eastern sale at $968. It was estimated at $1500+ by the usually conservative Mr. Levine, though I don't know what it brought. In 1986, the Julian Leidman specimen (graded VF-EF with "several long scratches" and "a few insignificant rim bumps" brought $467 -- that was almost 30 years ago. This piece is similar quality to other top shelf specimens, like the Miller-Littman piece, the Brand-Zeddies piece (at $935 in 1990), and a few others that are about the same sharpness and show no serious issues. This one is glossy medium brown with olive highlights around the devices and legends and a single short abrasion atop the reverse. The strike is excellent, and the surfaces are totally original: I know for a fact that no one so much as brushed this thing since it fell from John Ford's envelope, and Ford likely hadn't handled it in 50 years. There is probably surprising gloss there if you felt like cracking it out and giving it a bath. It looks lovely as is, and stands as a potential centerpiece in a collection of Hard Times tokens. Its provenance is known to be from the John J. Ford, Jr. Collection, and it appears to be ex. Benjamin Wright before 1900 as well. This important token is priced at a level similar to what its value was two decades ago.

Additional Information

Grading Service NGC
Grade AU58
Designation BN
Mint Location N/A
Strike Type N/A
Circulated/Uncirc Not Specified
Grade Add On N/A
SKU or Cert # 2599023018

Listed below are blog articles related to this product listing, if applicable:

Description

Details

(ca. 1829-34) William Rutter Red Store Hard Times token. Boston, MA. Low-327, HT-170. Copper. Rarity-7. AU-58 (NGC). A classic and enigmatic rarity in the Hard Times token series, oddly marrying two dies that never much made sense together: the obverse depicts a crossed flute and clarinet while offering "songs and ballads," while the reverse identifies Wm. Rutter of Fulton Street, Boston as the issuer and offers "cash for old rags, junk iron, copper, brass, & c." As it turns out, the dies were very much meant to be together, as Rutter was a bookseller and publisher of low poetry and sheet music, including a song to the tune of Yankee Doodle that seems to be about getting beat up on your way home from a one-night stand and another about the Battle of Plattsburgh in the War of 1812. These broadsides were the songs and ballads Rutter sold, and the old rags he bought were used to print them. His sideline as a junk metal recycler may or may not have been related. The Yankee Doodle version was printed at the same address as on his tokens, Fulton Street, which the librarians at Brown note he occupied from 1829 to 1834. As for his tokens, they are very rare, and most are dog ugly, offering a panoply of problems from scratches to roughness, though most are not well worn. Their rotation is always off by about 90 degrees, and their centering is all over the place. The centering on this one, aligned to 6:00 on the obverse and 10:00 on the reverse, is identical to the one depicted in a line drawing in Benjamin Wright's still useful (and often cited) American Business Tokens, published in The Numismatist from 1898 to 1901 and reprinted by Quarterman in 1972. While I can't prove this is the Wright plate token from over a century ago, I can't find another example of this very rare token with the same centering. And, if you were to guess where the Wright plate piece would be hiding all these years, the John Ford Collection would probably be everyone's first guess. Storer wrote about this token in 1923 and noted that just 20 were struck "and their use was prohibited after they had been in use for only an hour." These have always been avidly sought. Wright called it "Extremely Rare" in 1898. The first piece I ever catalogued was in the 2002 Gil Steinberg sale (Bowers and Merena), earlier from the 1989 Steinberg sale by Stack's. I graded that piece "About EF" with a diagonal scratch and some "minor roughness;" it brought $1092 back then, a decade ago. The Miller-Littman piece was sold by Presidential in 2004, also called Extremely Fine, selling at $1322. Joe Levine also had the Sara Hinckley specimen in 2006, earlier from his 1989 Great Eastern sale at $968. It was estimated at $1500+ by the usually conservative Mr. Levine, though I don't know what it brought. In 1986, the Julian Leidman specimen (graded VF-EF with "several long scratches" and "a few insignificant rim bumps" brought $467 -- that was almost 30 years ago. This piece is similar quality to other top shelf specimens, like the Miller-Littman piece, the Brand-Zeddies piece (at $935 in 1990), and a few others that are about the same sharpness and show no serious issues. This one is glossy medium brown with olive highlights around the devices and legends and a single short abrasion atop the reverse. The strike is excellent, and the surfaces are totally original: I know for a fact that no one so much as brushed this thing since it fell from John Ford's envelope, and Ford likely hadn't handled it in 50 years. There is probably surprising gloss there if you felt like cracking it out and giving it a bath. It looks lovely as is, and stands as a potential centerpiece in a collection of Hard Times tokens. Its provenance is known to be from the John J. Ford, Jr. Collection, and it appears to be ex. Benjamin Wright before 1900 as well. This important token is priced at a level similar to what its value was two decades ago.

Additional

Additional Information

Grading Service NGC
Grade AU58
Designation BN
Mint Location N/A
Strike Type N/A
Circulated/Uncirc Not Specified
Grade Add On N/A
SKU or Cert # 2599023018

Related Blog Article(s)

Listed below are blog articles related to this product listing, if applicable:

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