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HomeMedals and TokensBoston Lawyer Aaron White Hated Paper Money

Boston Lawyer Aaron White Hated Paper Money

(1861-1865) Aaron White Satirical Dollar. Brass. HK-830. Rarity-6. Choice Mint State. Sold for $258.50 at Stack’s Bowers August 2013 ANA Auction.

By Charles Morgan for CoinWeek …..
 

The numismatic object illustrated above is a wonderfully preserved example of a private issue token categorized by numismatic researchers Harold E. Hibler and Charles V. Kappen as a So-Called Dollar. It is a political piece that was issued in the years immediately preceding the outbreak of the Civil War by Connecticut lawyer Aaron White.

White is an interesting figure for those studying mid-19th century numismatics. As the token attests, he had an open disdain for paper money – not an unreasonable position considering its track record of diminished value as the American Revolution dragged on and possibly even prescient given what was about to happen with the federal government’s issuance of Greenbacks to help fund its efforts against the rebellion.

The token features a striking story of two sows. The sow on the right is sussing out a bag of $10 that is lying before it on the ground. The sow on the left, however, hangs lifeless with a hook in its snout. This is the position White felt the public would find themselves in if they were taken in by paper dollars.

White’s contribution to American numismatics didn’t end there. In 1863, White issued a calendar medal that celebrated Jefferson, Franklin, Washington, Lafayette, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and most interestingly, the Emancipation Proclamation. The medal was sold for the price of 25¢ and served as a store card for White’s business.

Beyond the issuance of private medals, White was a compulsive accumulator of hard money. Throughout his adult life, White squirreled away all manner of U.S. and world coins in his home, an impulse or mania that continued well into his later years after he had lost his eyesight.

After White died in 1866, those charged with handling his estate were shocked (and probably dismayed) to discover a hoard of coins weighing more than three tons. His hoard included more than 160,000 coins, the majority of which were copper and nickel cents. He also had 350 gold dollars, 100 silver dollars, 200 half dollars, and more than 20,000 world coins of various denominations, according to Hibbler and Kappen.

Coin dealers Elliott Woodward and Edouard Frossard handled the sale of White’s holdings in separate sales. Undoubtedly, a number of examples of this curious medal were among the many treasures squirreled away in White’s New Boston home.

 

Charles Morgan
Charles Morgan
Charles Morgan is an award-winning numismatic author and the editor and publisher of CoinWeek.com. Along with co-author Hubert Walker, he has written for CoinWeek since 2012, as well as the "Market Whimsy" column for The Numismatist and the book 100 Greatest Modern World Coins (2020) for Whitman Publishing. From 2021-2023, Charles served as Governor of the American Numismatic Association (ANA), where he was bestowed the Glenn Smedley Award. Charles is a member of numerous numismatic organizations, including the American Numismatic Society (ANS) and the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG).

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