What The Experts Say...

HT 81, Low 54.
This is the classic AM I NOT A WOMAN & SISTER antislavery token. It is also said to commemorate the formation of the Liberty Party in 1838.

(H. Joseph Levine, PCAC, The Charles Litman Collection, December 6, 2003)

Thanks to the research of Eric P. Newman, collectors may now know a good deal more about the background of HT 81 and HT 82. His conclusions are summarized here:

In late 1837 the American Anti-Slavery Society, located at 143 Nassau Street, New York, commissioned the firm of Gibbs Gardner & Co. of Belleville, N.J. to strike copper tokens (HT 81, the Kneeling Female piece). The tokens probably cost the AASS about 50 cents per hundred, as they contained copper then worth 39.5 cents per hundred.

Beginning May 4, 1833, the AASS published a weekly newspaper, The Emancipator, published by Charles W. Denison and edited by Joshua Leavitt. In its issue of Nov. 23, 1837, the Emancipator ran an advertisement offering the Female Slave tokens at $1 per hundred. Made of good copper and with a device on reverse similar to legal U.S. cents, they sold well.

The ad also said that it was proposed to issue Kneeling Male Slave tokens as well, and this accounts for the few pattern pieces of HT 82, which were never produced for circulation.

U.S. Mint Director Patterson moved quickly to suppress the circulation of HT 81, and it is apparent that by late December, 1837, he had succeeded in part. No further ads for the Female Slave tokens appeared in the AASS weekly or in other Journals, but since the number of pieces of HT 81 still surviving is quite large, they may well have been distributed by middlemen who paid about 62 cents per hundred for them in early 1838.

Gibbs Gardner & Co. were selected by the AASS in part because John Gibbs’ Belleville Mint had also struck the 1833 Liberia cent tokens for another American anti-slavery group in Maryland.

The AASS actually distributed a British anti-slavery medal in the U.S. in 1835, selling for 25 cents each, the 1834 Emancipation Jubilee Medal.

(The Standard Catalog of Hard Times Tokens by Russell Rulau, Ninth Edition, 2002)