Your Complete Guide to U.S. Trade Tokens

If you are interested in a token collection, consider U.S. trade tokens. After you find trade tokens for sale, you can place some of them into a picture frame to hang on your wall. You may also want to put antique and vintage tokens in a book to show your friends.

Trade tokens produced during the American Revolution

Some of the oldest U.S. trade tokens were made before and during the American Revolution. Collectors enjoy acumulating these early coins because, in some cases, a king authorized their production. Other collectors consider them trade tokens. Examples that are available include:

  • Sommer Islands tokens: Collectors can find these U.S trade tokens in twopence, threepence, sixpence, and twelvepence denominations. These undated coins continued to be used for many years, including in the Massachusetts Bay colonies.
  • American Plantation tokens: Struck in England, these U.S. trade tokens were worth 1/24 Spanish real. They show the image of James II on horseback on the obverse while the reverse shows crowns of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland.
  • Gloucester tokens: These tokens that are slightly larger than a nickel show a colonial building on one side. The other side has a five-pointed star with the words RIGHAVLT. DAWSON. ANNO. DOM. 1714.
  • Higley tokens: Produced for Dr. Samuel Higley in Granby, Connecticut, from 1728 to 1739, these copper tokens originally had a threepence value, but later examples read, "VALUE.ME.AS.YOU.PLEASE/I.AM.GOOD.COPPER."
  • Mott token: Made about 1789 in New York, one side of these coins reads, "CLOCKS, WATCHES, JEWELRY, SILVERWARE, CHRONOMETERS," and the other side shows a picture of an eagle with a breast shield and an olive branch in its mouth.
Are there trade tokens between 1800 to 1850?

Many different companies issued tokens during the 1800s. One of the earliest to be released was by Tredwell, Kissam & Co. of New York, New York, to commemorate the opening of the New York Grand Canal. Kettle & Sons of England struck some one-cent size tokens, including those for Baker Wolfe, Spies & Clark, and hardware company Tredwell, Kissam & Co. Many collectors specialize in U.S. tokens following the bank panic of 1837. Many of these affordable pieces contain political satire aimed at President Jackson. Starting in about 1845, political satire disappeared from antique tokens to be replaced with slogans urging people to vote according to political agendas.

Available American Civil War trade tokens

Several companies issued trade tokens on both sides of the American Civil War, which many collectors look for when searching for antique tokens for sale. Collectors can find two types of these antique trade tokens. One type is patriotic Civil War tokens that show a message supporting either the North or the South. The other type was a Civil War store card, which was used by merchants to give back small change. Users could bring the card back to the store the next time they shopped and exchange their card for tokens. Most show an image related to the business along with the store's name.