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Extraordinary Quality William Rutter Hard Times Token Rarity

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Extraordinary Quality William Rutter Hard Times Token Rarity

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Details

(ca. 1829-34) William Rutter Red Store Hard Times token. Boston, MA. Low-327, HT-170. Copper. Rarity-7. MS-62 BN (NGC). A classic and enigmatic rarity in the Hard Times token series, oddly marrying two dies that seem not to make much 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 is aligned to 3:00 on the obverse and 11:00 on the reverse. The surfaces are lustrous light golden brown, probably quite filthy from decades untouched in the Ford and predecessor collections. Having been involved in the Ford token sale, I can guarantee that this was not cleaned or brushed before being submitted to NGC or in the decades before. A minor natural rim flaw is noted at 9:00 on the obverse, and some minor surface roughness is seen at the left side of the central reverse. The eye appeal is excellent, and the very fact that the word "lustrous" can be used when describing a Rutter token is amazing. This can almost certainly be counted among the very finest known.

 

Malcom 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;" while this tidbit is of unknown veracity, the point remains that this token is highly elusive and avidly sought. Benjamin 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, more than 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.

 

Additional Information

Grading Service NGC
Grade MS62
Designation BN
Mint Location No
Strike Type Business
Circulated/Uncirc Uncirculated
Grade Add On No
SKU or Cert # 2599023016

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. MS-62 BN (NGC). A classic and enigmatic rarity in the Hard Times token series, oddly marrying two dies that seem not to make much 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 is aligned to 3:00 on the obverse and 11:00 on the reverse. The surfaces are lustrous light golden brown, probably quite filthy from decades untouched in the Ford and predecessor collections. Having been involved in the Ford token sale, I can guarantee that this was not cleaned or brushed before being submitted to NGC or in the decades before. A minor natural rim flaw is noted at 9:00 on the obverse, and some minor surface roughness is seen at the left side of the central reverse. The eye appeal is excellent, and the very fact that the word "lustrous" can be used when describing a Rutter token is amazing. This can almost certainly be counted among the very finest known.

 

Malcom 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;" while this tidbit is of unknown veracity, the point remains that this token is highly elusive and avidly sought. Benjamin 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, more than 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.

 

Additional

Additional Information

Grading Service NGC
Grade MS62
Designation BN
Mint Location No
Strike Type Business
Circulated/Uncirc Uncirculated
Grade Add On No
SKU or Cert # 2599023016

Related Blog Article(s)

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

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