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NNP Blog

Jun 17 2022

Eric Newman Speaks on “Am I Not a Woman and a Sister”

In 1994, Eric P. Newman presented at the ANS Coinage of the Americas conference on “The Promotion and Suppression of Hard Times Tokens.” Newman explored one particular token, AM I NOT A WOMAN AND SISTER (Low-54), within the greater context of token substitutes that resulted from a shortage of federal coinage. Newman was able to uncover the origin of this piece through a tedious search of contemporary anti-slavery newspapers. Many of these were religious in nature, which led Newman to comment “I read so many newspapers I nearly went fundamentalist.” Newman connected the Low-54 token to an 1837 advertisement in The Emancipator, published by the American Anti-Slavery Society in New York. While the Low-54 token is today relatively available, the Low 54a variant (AM I NOT A MAN AND A BROTHER) is a well-known rarity, with only four examples known. The Newman example of the Low-54a, previously from Charles Ricard and sold to Newman by Q. David Bowers, c. 1993, was offered by Heritage Auctions in June 2016 (lot 98916).

Link to Eric P. Newman 1989 video, “Promotion & Suppression of Hard Times Tokens”:
Link to Lianna Spurrier 2020 video on “Am I not a Man and a Brother”:
Link to ANS Coinage of the Americas Conference proceedings, The Token in America

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