Bowers seeks help on 1794 halfpenny

Long-time U.S. numismatist Q. David Bowers, the co-founder of Stack’s Bowers auction house, is seeking information on two copper tokens, including one early Canadian halfpenny, for an upcoming book exploring mottos and inscriptions on money.

The 1794 Copper Company of Upper Canada halfpenny includes an obverse inscription reading, “FERTILITATEM DIVITIAS QUE CIRCUMFERREMUS,” of which Bowers is pursuing the translation or meaning.

“At the center is the reclining figure of a river god in the style of Neptune,” wrote Bowers in a July 31 blog post.


He’s also inviting collectors’ opinions on another copper token that “represents one of the many enduring mysteries in numismatics.”

With an obverse design featuring a face to represent the Sun and an inscription reading, “LET THE EAGLE FLY / J.S.G.S.L.C.O.,” this token is one of only a “dozen or so examples” known to exist, he said. All well-circulated, these tokens “are not numismatic issues made for collectors but in their time were used in circulation,” wrote Bowers, who added there could be a Mormon connection “but the circumstances of issue have yet to be determined.”

“One thing remains clear, that this is an interesting early American token of considerable rarity, one that holds a secret, perhaps very important, that is still to be discovered.”

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