• Section Contents
  • Bar Copper Coins

    The Bar Copper 1785: Introduction

    As with several other tokens of the period, little is known about the origin of the undated bar coppers. Most probably they were minted in Birmingham at the request of a New York merchant. From the New Jersey Gazette of November 12, 1785, we learn:

    A new and curious kind of coppers have lately made their appearance in New York. The novelty and bright gloss of which keeps them in circulation. These coppers are in fact similar to Continental buttons without eyes; on the one side are thirteen stripes and on the other U.S.A., as was usual on the soldiers buttons.

    At an average weight of 80.8 - 87.2 grains this coin was even lighter that most Birmingham products. Thus, it is unlikely they passed for more than the standard rate of fourteen coppers to the shilling. For this reason, we may assume they do not deserve their traditional name of "bar cents" but rather should be called coppers or tokens. They are usually found on narrow planchets with incomplete rim denticles.

    Several reproductions exist. John Bolen of Springfield, Massachusetts produced replica dies in 1862 and struck 65 examples in copper. W. Elliot Wordward then purchased the dies and struck 12 examples in silver. Additional unattribued strikings of this die exist in nickel, brass and tin. Original examples will have a spur protruding down from the far right side of the second bar toward the third. Often there is also a small die crack joining the two bars almost in the middle of the coin. Neither of these will appear on copies from the Bolen dies. There are also several modern souvenir copies without numismatic value.


    See: Breen, pp. 126-127 and Richard D. Kenney, Struck Copies of Early American Coins,  Sanford J. Durst: New York, 1982 (rpt. of 1952), Bolen, no. 1, p. 8.

    ^ ->
    Section Contents Bar Copper Coins

    For viewing tips and information on optimal computer settings click here.
    For our copyright statement click here.

    For questions or comments contact Special Collections by:
    , telephone: (574) 631-0290, or mail:
    Department of Special Collections, 102 Hesburgh Library,
    University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556