Millard Fillmore tokens from the 1856 presidential campaign

Discussion in 'History & Past Politicians' started by JohnHamilton, Mar 5, 2024.

  1. JohnHamilton

    JohnHamilton Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2022
    Messages:
    7,035
    Likes Received:
    5,922
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    People make jokes about Millard Fillmore. He's the president many people love to forget. He became president in 1850 when Zachary Taylor died unexpectedly.

    The big event of Fillmore's presidency was the Compromise of 1850. It was one more attempt to put a bandaid on the slavery issue. It didn't work. It's most famous provision was the Fugitive Slave Law which required northerners to return runaway slaves to their southern masters. It was one more issue that divided the country.

    Fillmore could get the nomination of the Whig Party which was in the process of dying over the slavery issue in 1852. Winfield Scott won it instead and lost by a wide margin.

    Fillmore did get the nomination of "Know Nothing" or American Party in 1856. The Known Nothings were anti-immigrant. They didn't want "newcomers" to immigrate to the United States. If they did, citizenship had to wait for 25 years and they were not allowed to hold elective office.

    Fillmore probably was not as radical on the issue as the party which supported him. The party did give him a way to run for the White House again, however. Here are some Fillmore tokens from 1856.

    This is the classic resume piece which listed the offices Fillmore had held previously.

    MF 1856-1 All.jpg

    Holding the Union together was a major issued for all of the presidential candidates. Many had seen civil war as a threat for years.

    MF 1856-2 All.jpg

    This piece, by die maker Frederick Smith, outline the concerns of the Know Nothings who feared that immigrants would take over the country. Smith often issued dies to covered the major issued of the campaigns. He also made dies for the other candidates, John Fremont and James Buchanan.

    MF 1856-3 All.jpg

    This piece is mounted on an eagle pin. I do not think that this combination is original, but it does show how these pieces were worn on coats and shirts.

    MF 1856-4 All.jpg

    This is one of the rare Fillmore tokens. This one lays out the Know Nothing position in no uncertain terms. The reverse reads, "Americans shall rule America." This looks to be in rough shape, but it's better than the few other examples that I have seen of this piece.

    MF 1856-6 All.jpg

    Fillmore came in as a distant third in the presidential race. He cared only the state of Maryland.
     
    FatBack and Independent4ever like this.
  2. Steady Pie

    Steady Pie Well-Known Member Past Donor

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2012
    Messages:
    24,509
    Likes Received:
    7,250
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Any idea of the composition of these coins?

    Real nice pieces.
     
    JohnHamilton likes this.
  3. JohnHamilton

    JohnHamilton Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2022
    Messages:
    7,035
    Likes Received:
    5,922
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    The four white pieces are made of what collectors call “white metal.” The alloy varies, but lead, tin, antimony, bismuth and copper can be in the mix. The advantages are that the stuff is soft, inexpensive and easier to strike. The disadvantages are it is soft, does not wear well, prone to corrosion and is easily scratched. Since the pieces were intended to be used only during the few months of a presidential campaign, those issues were not an issue.

    The pieces I posted are nice for the types, but not super. Super condition is rare, especially for pieces that were issued at the time of the campaign. The bids for them can go nuts at auctions.

    For modern collectors, those factors are issues. “Tin pest,” a form of corrosion, can be a real problem if the piece has a lot of tin in it. Obviously marks and wear are issues too as they on the last “Americans shall rule America” piece.

    The piece mounted on the string is made of brass. Copper was also popular too. Pieces made of copper were sometimes made for 19th century collectors. Yes, there were collectors for these pieces back in the day. Sometimes restrikes were made years after the campaigns if the dies were still available.
     

Share This Page