1868 Presidential Campaign Medal

By Kevin Day-Thorburn, FRCNA

Have you heard of Horatio Seymour? Given the events happening south of the border, here’s a neat piece that recently crossed my desk. In 1868 the United States of America was only recently into their reconstruction era, the period where they needed to try and repair damages from their Civil War, and it was time for a presidential election to see who would succeed Andrew Johnson, who became president after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The Republican candidate was a now-familiar name, Ulysses S Grant. Running for the Democrats was Horatio Seymour.

Seymour and Blair 1868 campaign medal

Campaign medals are very collectable. They would often be holed to wear at parades and other gatherings to show support and today they are important pieces of history. This medal is approximately 28mm diameter and made of brass. The front shows the two candidates for the Democrats, Horatio Seymour and his vice presidential running mate, Francis Preston Blair, Jr.

While the party names are very familiar, they don’t necessarily represent the same values they do today. Remember, the man who succeeded, eventually, in abolishing slavery, President Lincoln, was Republican. On the back of the medal is written, “General amnesty, uniform currency, equal taxes & equal rights,” which certainly seems to cover a lot of ground. On the back of a medal, they sound like admirable goals. Of course, the slogan for the 1868 National Democratic Convention was, “This is a White Man’s Country, Let White Men Rule,” so one wonders just how equal that “equal rights” statement was meant to be.

The campaign song for Seymour and Blair was called, “The White Man’s Banner.” I won’t bother putting the lyrics down because I think you get the drift.

Grant was a war hero from Illinois and reluctant politician. Seymour was a career politician from New York, having served as the state’s governor. Looking back, it doesn’t seem surprising that a nation coming off of a brutal civil war would elect the war hero as their leader. Grant, whose campaign song was called, “A Nation’s Hero,” would carry 26 states while Seymour carried 8. There were still states that hadn’t been restored to the union and some of today’s states were territories at the time.

If you’re wondering about the value of such a medal, this particular piece was sold fairly quickly by the Coin Cabinet for $88.

Saint John Coin Club issues commemorative medal for Canada 150 featuring Three Sisters

In conjunction with the Royal Canadian Numismatic Association’s Canada 150 medal program, the Saint John Coin Club has issued a commemorative medal featuring the Reed Point Light or “Three Sisters,” as it is known locally, on the obverse.  Canada’s sesquicentennial is a significant milestone for our nation and the club thought it appropriate to celebrate Saint John with this medal.

Erected in 1842, the Reed Point Light acted as a navigational aid vital to the safety of seagoing vessels entering the harbour.  The light was rededicated to the Saint John Harbour Pilots after its restoration in 1967, Canada’s centennial year, so it seemed a fitting choice to represent Saint John for Canada 150.  Today the light is a proud symbol of the importance of the sea to the city of Saint John.

The reverse of the medal features the official Canada 150 logo created by Ariana Cuvin of Toronto, Ontario, whose design was chosen from over 300 eligible entries after a nation-wide competition.

The medal, designed by Saint John Coin Club member Kevin Day-Thorburn, was struck by the Mississauga Mint of Ontario in silver, bronze, and copper in mintages of 40, 50, and 100 respectively.  At the time of writing, only a few medals remain.  Inquiries can be made to the Saint John Coin Club via their Facebook page or website.

Washington “No Good” Token

Many of you may remember that during the summer of 2012 the Saint John Coin Club gathered at the home of one of our members for a festive barbeque, complete with great food, drink, conversation and even a little something our host is becoming known for: numismatic trivia games.  I don’t recall who won the grand prize, but it wasn’t me.

I did win a prize though.  Included in the nice bundle of goodies I received was something that looked interesting, but I had no clue what it could be, so it sat in that pile of items so many of us have labelled “unidentified.”  Then, after a number of months, I photographed it and put it on a coin forum called coincommunity.com and in under an hour one of the members was able to let me know what it was.

Washington No Good Token coin

It turns out it is a Washington “No Good” token.  Identifying it was wonderful, but it got even better learning it may be a scarce piece.  I’ve only found three references to it.  First is a Heritage auction (the same people that are generously hosting our website) from 2008.  The auction description states the token comprised of German silver (which, of course, doesn’t contain silver) and that there are less than 10 known, according to Russell Rulau and George Fuld’s book, Medallic Portraits of Washington.  The token sold for $55.

The second reference comes from the University of Notre Dame’s collection of Washington tokens.  On their numismatic page, they state the highlights of their collection and list this token as one of them.  Their page states their token is the third of only three known.  The point out the similarity of the reverse to the Canadian 25 cent pieces from 1870-1936, noting the small crown was only used from 1902-1905 (not acknowledging the 1906 small crown).  They also note the origin of the token isn’t known.

The third reference comes from Geoffrey Bell Auctions.  They listed an example of this token in their October 3, 2013 auction with a reserve of $100, but the item didn’t sell.  Their auction description states there are only three known.

There doesn’t seem to be a lot known about this little token, but it’s been fun researching it, not only because of the findings, but because it’s satisfying just to find out something about what you have.  I’ve also learned that it pays to know your numismatic trivia and to attend coin club functions!

Jolly Trolley Casino Woods

by Kevin Day-Thorburn

Local coin clubs are easily one of the best places for obtaining material for your collection; on top of the items you collect, you’re bound to find obscure stuff you had no idea existed.  I was recently given a few woods by a Saint John Coin Club member and two of them were from the Jolly Trolley Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada.  Here’s the lesson: use these unknown pieces as a chance to broaden your knowledge of the world – not just the numismatic world either.

jolly-trolley-casino-wood-1 jolly-trolley-casino-wood

Without a huge interest in casino related material, I almost dismissed these two, but my curiosity got the better of me because of the reverse of one of them.  The two woods have the same obverse, but while one reverse is blank, the other has a familiar logo from IGA grocery stores, with BOX in large letters above and Wooden Quarter below (I guess I can’t refer to this as a wooden nickel).  Why would a grocery store chain’s logo be on a casino promotion?

I also learned a little about the Jolly Trolley Casino.  The building that housed the casino began as a shopping centre sometime in the 1950s on the Las Vegas strip.  With the rise in automobile use, strip malls, with their large parking lots and convenient to access stores were all the rage.


In 1963 the first casino opened in part of the mall – Honest John’s.  Next to Honest John’s two different casinos operated from 1971 to 1977, and it was then that the Jolly Trolley took over.  On one of their billboard they announced, “Burlesque is Back – Naked but Nice.”

Around 1981 the casino closed its doors and the Bonanza Gift Shop, which is still there today, opened with their trade marked slogan, The World’s Largest Gift Shop and with one reassuring sign reading, “If it’s in stock, we have it.”


IGA grocery stores began life in 1926 as Independent Grocers Alliance in the United States and the logo on the wood is unmistakably the same as this company’s logo.  I did wonder if that meant there was a grocery store in the same strip mall as the Jolly Trolley Casino, which would make the most sense, but I could find no record of that being the case either in print or through photographs.

Robb MacPherson, through chipguide.com, found a possible answer with a fellow member commenting that IGA stands for International Grocers Association who, “held a convention here in Las Vegas and these $0.25 Wooden Nickel were used to help promote a visit to the casino.”  That would make sense as a promotion and “International” may actually be “Independent.”

With the short life of the casino, I don’t know if I’ll ever know.  I did find one more wood in John K. Kallman’s book, Casino Woods – it featured the same obverse, but the print on the reverse reads, $50.00 / on your next visit / Fun Book.

Learning a little bit of history is still fun, so make the most of opportunity when she knocks.

Irving Canaport Medal

by Tom Craig

Sometimes when you are able to source a small collection from someone or a friend, it can have some unusual items that you may or may not have seen in a long time. This is one of those times.

The item in question is an “event medal” struck to commemorate this local event in Saint John NB.

Irving Canaport Medal

The occasion was the opening of the Oil Terminal, Canaport, December 1969, as we know it, in Saint John. It would allow oil to be unloaded from the large ships to shore tanks. You may know this, but it was the Western Hemisphere’s first Deep Water Terminal!   Canaport was built by SUN OIL at the time in partnership with, IRVING OIL.  Irving Oil now operates the terminal to this day.

This was quite an accomplishment when you think of it, the terminal is located several kilometres off shore and the oil is pumped ashore by a submerged line that practically floats.

The medal is made of bronze; dia. is 45mm, approx. thickness is 5 mm. weight is about 2 ozs.

It is not know who manufactured this or how many were struck. A second medal for this event is also known to exist but is much larger diameter at about 110 mm.


One Saturday morning while waiting for Fundy Coins to open uptown I spotted a new shop on King Street and since it was the only thing open, I went in to browse. There was a decent assortment of antiques and such, but there wasn’t a lot that caught my eye until
I eyed a pin in a box with a label marked, “50 cents to a dollar.” It ended up costing a dollar.

The pin is about the size of a 25-cent piece, but resembling a loonie in shape and design, except that’s a bit of an exaggerated bill on that loon! The words, “No GST” appear in the design too. On the back it has engraved, “Made in NB,” and a New Brunswick telephone number. When I looked up the phone number, it showed a business near Moncton.

R & R Antiques
R and R Antiques and Collectibles – a new shop on King Street in Saint John

I contacted the business to see if they remembered the pin. The current owner, Terry Mollins told me that he did recall that item. He told me it was made before he came into ownership of the business in 1989 or 1990, which would make sense since the Goods and Service Tax came into being January 1st, 1991. Terry said it was a promotional pin made by the shop “as a message against the proposed GST.” The name of the business at that time was Rockcliffe Trophies.
The current shop is called Premium Awards and Recognition and is located at 164 Bateman Mill Road, Shediac Cape, NB.

Previously Undiscovered 1966 Kennedy Half Dollar Cud

Numismatics, according to Merriam-Webster, is “the study or act of collecting of coins, paper money, and medals.” Obviously, that definition can be expanded upon, but here’s an example of how it can pay off to focus on the “study” part, by learning about the different types of error coins and keeping your eyes peeled.

There’s a seller on eBay in the Netherlands I buy from sometimes to expand my Netherlands collection. Up for auction, he had a 1966 USA Kennedy half dollar, which is 40% silver. What jumped out at me was a little extra bit of metal extending from the rim. Luckily, the bidding didn’t go high and I picked it up for a little over five dollars shipped to get a closer look at what I saw. Sure enough, it was a rather tiny cud that extended from the rim into the L in Liberty on the obverse.

1966 US half cud

A cud, according to Wikipedia, is “a variation of a die defect in which the coin bears a raised portion of metal. Unlike a die crack, this unintentional “bump” in the coin is caused by a dent or gouge in the die, therefore allowing the coin to fill into the gap during the minting process.”


If you collect error coins at all, you’re likely familiar with the web site cuds-on-coins.com. My cud wasn’t listed, so I sent the photos to the site administrator and editor, Robert (BJ) Neff who added it as CU-50c-1966-01. Mr. Neff also had this to say, “Kennedy half dollar cuds are fairly rare and even the rim cuds command added value; yours is a full cud so even a bit more rare,” which was welcome information indeed.

Learn your errors and watch the coins you come across, both in circulation and as collectables, you never know when it will pay off.

2015 Canadian Flag – 25-cent Circulation Coin Pack

The Royal Canadian Mint has made their 2015 Canadian Flag 25 cent circulation coin pack available to the public at face value with free shipping for a pack of ten coins.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Canadian flag and the coin design features 50 children representing each year in addition to the future.  The quarter was designed by Bonnie Ross, an artist from Nova Scotia.


This offer may not last long!

Green River Whiskey Token

I knew I had to prepare to write about this handsome token, featuring a subject matter of such great economic, political, and social importance it has shaped, enhanced and even ruined lives throughout the ages. So, I braved one of the many blizzards of the winter of 2015 and headed into the cruel winds that pelted me with stinging snow, downhill (both ways) to the nearest NBLC to purchase a bottle of Jack Daniels – just the cheap stuff, not the mouth watering, limited edition Sinatra Select blend available only this year – and I sat to ponder why our beloved leader, our President, would thrust this particular piece upon me to write about, forcing me to imbibe the bitter spirits that can only be the life-work of the devil himself.

Green River Whiskey Token

Made of brass measuring 32mm diameter, the piece has the words “Green River Whiskey” above the figure of a black man holding an old nag by the reins and the words “The whiskey without regrets” below on the obverse.

The reverse features a horseshoe, four-leaf clover and a wishbone with “Green River” across them and the statement “It’s lucky to drink whiskey” around the perimeter.

Green River Whiskey was the product of John McCulloch of Owensboro, Kentucky, which he started distilling in 1885 and by the turn of the century his blends were winning awards internationally.

I’ve also seen a watch fob with the same obverse artwork, but with the words “She was bread in old Kentucky.” In addition to the slogans above, the following gem was used prominently by the brand: “The whiskey without a headache.”


Judging by the variances available, it was a mass-produced item over a number of years in the 1930s, with some dating it specifically to 1936. There were as many as 20 different dies in use over this time, with only subtle differences in the design.

Most texts refer to this as a token, but without any nominal value, it seems more of an advertising medal. Either way it’s a fascinating piece of American history.