Hard Times token
Overall: 1 1/8 in. ( 2.9 cm )
Token; copper; depiction of a donkey on obverse, a tortoise carrying a bank on it shell on reverse; obverse "ILLUSTRIOUS / I FOLLOW IN THE / STEPS / OF MY / PREDECESSOR" reverse "EXECUTIVE / SUB / TREASURY / 1837 / FISCAL AGENT / EXPERIMENT"
The "executive experiment" refers to the establishment of the Subtreasury system. The tortoise with the safe on its back alludes to the slow progress the experiment made, and the running jackass alludes to the Van Buren's rapid growth in popularity. In 1837 and again in 1857, financial crises caused loss of confidence in paper money and widespread redemption of currency in coin. Banks were soon forced to suspend specie payments, and tokens and fractional notes had to serve as smaller change.
Gift of Thomas H. Meyers
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.