Hey, has anyone heard or know anything about something called Lindenmueller Coins or Lindenmueller Tokens? Just got a new book today, Armchair Reader: Civil War: Untold Tales of the Blue and Gray, and it has a story about these things. Aout how folks in the North, fearing an economic collapse, began hoarding their gold and silver coins so people like Gustavus Lindenmueller began creating their own "currency." Basically just tokens that could be used at their establishment in lieu of the offical coin of the realm, if you will. The way the book tells in, Lindenmueller Coins/Tokens became so accepted in NYC that the Third Avenue Railroad began accepting them as legitimate currency, believing Lindenmueller was going to honor them as anything more than the purchase of a meal or a few drinks at his establisment (the book says it was a bar, but looking at this article (http://www.cwtsociety.com/AOTM/index.html) on The Civil War Token Societies site I'm not sure if it was a mere bar or a resturant). The way it goes, they went to turn in the token's they'd collected in lieu of actual cash fares on their streetcars only to have him laugh in their faces. Supposedly this and other such tokens prompted the federal government to issue the 2¢ coins which brought an end to such tokens.
I'm just looking to learn a little more about them.
In 1863, bar and restaurant owner Gustavus Lindenmueller had produced about a million copper tokens and began distributing them. They soon were being accepted as money, usually for one cent. One is pictured here:
The token gives the engraver's name as: "L. Roloff." (Louis Roloff).
They were widely used not only in Lindenmueller's establishment, but also for streetcar fares. As you stated above, a problem arose when the Third Avenue Railroad Co. of New York asked Lindenmueller to redeem the large number of tokens that they had. He refused. Nothing could be done about it.
So, in April of 1864, the US Government enacted a Coinage Act which created the two cent piece (Which was the first US coin to bear the motto: "In God We Trust."). It also changed the design of the one cent piece from the relatively thick and heavy copper- nickel coin to a thinner copper coin. This pretty much ended the use of the tokens.
In June of 1864, an act of Congress made private mintage and usage of coins a criminal offense. Now it was official that the tokens could no longer be used as money, but they soon became collectibles.
Today, as you mentioned, there is even a Civil War Token Society. Inside their interesting article is a picture of a ten cent note that was redeemable in Lindenmueller's restaurant, so he apparently had one.
Ok, from skimming through the article I'm wondering a little something about whether his refusal to pay Third Ave Railroad was simply because he never intended to honor the tokens as currency (at least in large amounts) or if there was more to it. In 1858 he was arrested for violating a law, the Sunday Liquor Law, which made selling acoholic drinks illegal on Sundays (actually the article says it prohibited serving alcohol on Sundays). The Times called his establishment a "notorious gambleing and dance-house" following his arrest and the "cleaning" out of his establishment of the hundreds of patrons. Wouldn't be surprised cleaning means they were arrested too.
In 1860 the Sunday Laws were then supposedly extended to the establishment of certain religons, or were at least viewed as extending to such, and also to public theatrical preformances on Sunday in NYC and the country there off. In a meeting of German bar owners Lindenmueller proposed a a tax on saloons to raise money to challenge the constitutionality of the laws and the formation of a new German church called the Shaker congregation (funny, I though the Shakers had been in this country since before the Revolution). The Times would eventually say that only a court ordered injunction, which came that October after the Society for the Reformation of Juvenile Delinquents filed for one, would stop him.
Now what I'm wondering is who the owners of the Third Ave Railroad may have been. Could they have been some of the folks prosecuting him for violating the laws? If so, might he have had a grudge against them and thus was more likely to deliberately not be willing to honor his tokens as a voucher for cash payment out of revenge.
You were right about the Shakers. They emigrated to the US before the Revolutionary War. The article states that it was Lindenmueller who founded a new "church" and called it the : "Shaker Congregation." Apparently, he meant for the : "Congregation" to meet at his saloon and use beer and wine as: "Holy water." Thus, he attempted to thwart the Sunday laws by claiming that they were interfering with the free exercise of religion, a right granted by the First Amendment.