John S. writes: Hi. I have a coin that shows a picture of the Liberty Bell on the front and the date 1776, and on the rear it say’s Fries Halseed & Hawkins Cloth House, 8th & Market St., S.E.Cor., Philadelphia. It looks old and very worn, and I wonder if it is a real coin of early America, or maybe a comemmorative put out at a later date? I have been unable to find out anything locally. Thanks for your help, John
You have an advertising token from 1876. The Liberty Bell and the date 1776 goes along with the Centennial Celebration There are many ad tokens from 1876 that have centennial themes. Advertising tokens were given out freely, often they had a redemption value of one cent at the store that issued it (that was a spendable amount in 1876).
Fries, Malseed & Hawkins were in the business of selling cloth to the trade and to individuals. People generally made their own clothes instead of buying “expensive” store bought clothing. Clothing was not yet made to standardized sizes and dresses, pants and shirts were all made to order. This company was located at 8th and Market in Philadelphia, the address is on the token.
These tokens were struck in white metal, copper and brass. Examples are most often seen in high grade (EF-Unc) and the value range is $15 -$40 depending on type and grade. Lower grade pieces are worth about $3.