CWTS Article of the Month!

March 2004

"Dating Mr. Sayre's Tokens"

by John Ostendorf - LM 171

   Several tokens struck by Joseph J. Sayre, including his own store card are listed as Civil War tokens. However, it is highly unlikely that any of Sayre's tokens were struck during the Civil War.

   Sayre struck tokens for Bernard Panzer (OH 165EI), A.J. Blocksom (OH 615A), W.S. Johnson & Bro. (KY 370A), and himself (OH 165FE). All are extremely rare, suggesting low mintages, and most are struck in off-metals like white metal or brass which suggests that they were not intended to circulate as a money substitute.

   Sayre is found in the Cincinnati city directories throughout the Civil War, listed as a stencil cutter. Sayre probably worked for another die sinker, Louis Autenrieth, during the war years as he was listed as a 17 year old stencil apprentice in the 1860 census. Louis Autenrieth was listed as a die sinker at the southwest corner of 4th and Walnut in the 1862 city directory. Sayre would later operate his own business on the southeast corner.

   Sayre's store cards (OH 165FE) both denote a 4th and Walnut address on the obverse. According to the city directories, Sayre would not occupy this address until 1868. He was listed at 4th and Race in the 1867 city directory. The same obverse was used on the Panzer tokens. The Panzer tokens were a five cent token struck in copper and a ten cent token struck in brass. Bernhart Panzer operated a coffeehouse (saloon) or grocery at 473 E. 3d from 1866 to 1870.

   As I pointed out in Volume 35, Number 2 of the Civil War Token Journal, the W.S. Johnson & Bro. tokens were struck after the Civil War. The reverse of KY 370A-2e is identical to the reverse on OH 165FE-2e. The firm W.S. Johnson & Bro. was in business from July 17, 1865 to March 18, 1886.

   The final piece of the puzzle is A.J. Blocksom. His store card, OH 615A-1e also has an identical reverse as OH 165FE-2e. The April 2, 1869 edition of the New Lisbon Journal reported A.J. Blocksom died at the age of 34 on March 24, 1869.

   Sayre was first listed at the 4th and Walnut address in the 1868 city directory. The information for that year's directory could have been gathered as early as the fall of 1867. Therefore, it appears that the Sayre tokens were struck sometime between the fall of 1867 and the spring of 1869.

Click on Images to Enlarge :
sayre 1867 ad
Advertisement from the 1867 Cincinnati city directory
sayre 1868 ad
Advertisement from the 1868 Cincinnati city directory

Columbiana County, Ohio Newspaper Abstracts Vol. 1-2, by Carol Willsey Bell, Bell Books, 1986.
Williams Cincinnati Directory, City Guide and Business Mirror (1861-1872), Williams & Company, Cincinnati.
History of Henderson County, KY, by Edmund L. Starling, 1887, reproduced by Unigraphic Inc., Evansville, Indiana, 1972.

CWTS Article Archive
Winter 2016 A Reminiscence
Winter 2016 My First Sulter Token
Spring 2016 Protesting Union Civil War Policies
Winter 2015 Slave Owner Issued Civil War Tokens
Fall 2014 Hill the Barber & African American Store Card Issuers
Fall 2014 Gustavus Lindenmueller: The Myth, The Man, The Mystery
Apr. 2004 Henry Varwig - OH165GD
Mar. 2004 Dating Mr. Sayre's Tokens
Feb. 2000 Knowledge of Civil War Tokens
Jan. 2000 Ohio 710A
Dec. 1999 Speculations About Yankee Robinson
Nov. 1999 Hussey's Private Message Post
Oct. 1999 The Great Central Fair
Sep. 1999 Wm. S. Wilcox of Adrian, Michigan
Aug. 1999 Grading Isn't Really a Monster
July 1999 The 1860 Presidential Campaign Medalets
June 1999 The Other Store Cards of Central New York
May 1999 George McClellan - The Peace Maker?
Apr. 1999 Sutler Tokens at Gettysburg
Mar. 1999 More on the Monitor and Merrimac
Feb. 1999 Civil War Token Mini-Set -- General Franz Sigel
Jan. 1999 Die Sinker Errors on Civil War Tokens
Dec. 1998 The Abraham Lincoln Mini-set
Nov. 1998 Civil War Token Errors
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