Canadian token book expected to be released at Coin Expo this weekend

First new study of ‘difficult and challenging series’  in 100 years, 450-page book to detail ‘Ships, Colonies & Commerce’ tokens

A new book on Canadian tokens is slated for release at Toronto Coin Expo this weekend by the British auction house Spink and Son.

Authored by well-known numismatic researcher Christopher Faulkner, Imperial Designs: Canada’s Ships, Colonies & Commerce Tokens is supported by a grant from the J. Douglas Ferguson Historical Research Foundation, a not-for-profit educational organization established in Canada in 1971. The 450-page book is “the first entirely new study of the series in 100 years,” Faulkner said.

“This book offers the kind of presentation and analysis that have never been undertaken previously with any individual series of pre-Confederation Canadian tokens,” said Faulkner, who’s also the author of the award-winning 2012 book The Holey Dollars and Dumps of Prince Edward Island plus the 2016 book Coins Are Like Songs: The Upper Canada Coppers, 1815-1841.

The opening chapter of his upcoming book explains the historical meaning behind the presence of the ship on the obverse and the familiar legend on the reverse, to which the series owes its name. The ship symbolized the primary means of transportation tying the British North American colonies to one another as well as to their mother country.

“Throughout the 19th century, the words ‘ships, colonies and commerce’ had a wide popular appeal and an almost magical authority,” said Faulkner. “As they passed from hand to hand, the tokens not only circulated a store of value (nominally a halfpenny), they also helped to circulate an idea of empire and the primary means by which that idea was secured.”

The book’s first chapter also offers an account of where and by whom the varieties in the series were struck, and when and where the token circulated in the course of its 40-year life.

“Earlier efforts at cataloguing the series are explained and there is a detailed record of 12 major collections of the past,” added Faulkner, who was honoured with the J. Douglas Ferguson Award for distinguished service to Canadian numismatics – the highest honour in Canadian numismatics – at the 2013 Royal Canadian Numismatic Association Convention in Winnipeg.

The book highlights the popular ‘Ships Colonies & Commerce’ tokens, with three ‘extremely rare and controversial’ examples (Breton 999-1001) explored in the third chapter.


The second chapter includes a “fully illustrated catalogue” of all known varieties and die states of Breton 997, which Faulkner calls “one of the most difficult and challenging series in Canadian numismatics.”

In the book, the series is divided into groups and sub-groups. Within each group, every variety and die state receives its own catalogue entry, and several previously unknown varieties are listed. Every entry also includes some commentary, which explains the characteristics of the variety and its die states, and a sales record – if one exists.

The third chapter “deals at length,” Faulkner said, with three “extremely rare and controversial” Ships, Colonies and Commerce tokens, Breton 999, 1000 and 1001.

“Every known example of each of these tokens is illustrated and pedigreed,” he added.

Biographies of W.A.D. Lees and L.A. Langstroth – “two of the foundational collectors and cataloguers of the series,” according to Faulkner – constitute the fourth and final chapter.

Lastly, an appendix highlights various errors in the series and what they can tell researchers about the circumstances under which the tokens were struck.


The book can be purchased in Canada from dealer Sveto Kovacevic, owner of Toronto’s Ancient Numismatic Enterprise, or in Europe from

For more information, Kovacevic can be contacted via email at or telephone at 416-686-8019.

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