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An Unusual 1876 Anti Tilden Political Medalet

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In 1876 the Donkey Party nominated Samuel J. Tilden for President of the United States. Tilden had been a very successful reform governor of New York, and given the corruption that had marked the Grant administration, he looked to be a very strong candidate. In the general election Tilden won the popular vote and probably won in the Electoral College, but the Elephant Party operatives were able to tie up the results and ultimately were able to steal the election with some shenanigans in the House and Senate.


Although Tilden was popular he did have his detractors, and he would have a great many more after he failed to stand up for himself in the post election debacle. Prior the election, it would appear from this medalet that he had made an enemy of a well-known businessman, S.T. Drake, whose company made Drake’s Plantation Bitters.


Drake’s Bitters was marketed as a medicine, but in reality the product provided Drake with a way to market alcohol without the liquor tax which was enacted in 1862. Russell Rulau, who has authored several books United States tokens, speculated that Tilden was out to end the tax exempt status for Drake’s Bitters, and prompted Mr. Drake to oppose is candidacy.


At any rate here the token. The obverse features a Tilden portrait with the slogan, “Tilden’s “Convention” Bitters,” above his head and a second slogan, “S:J:T: 1880 – X – IT.” The reverse of the piece is the standard advertising slogan for Drake’s Bitters, which reads, “Drake’s “Plantation” Bitters S.T. 1860 – X.” The last part of the slogan stands for Stated Trade 1860 with $10 in capital.




This piece has been attributed to the 1876 presidential campaign (SJT 1876-9), but was it made after the election? I question when this was issued because of the phrase, “S:J:T: 1880 – X – IT.” If Drake wanted to defeat Tilden, why was he talking about removing him in 1880? It sounds as if Drake was assuming that Tilden had won the 1876 election and that Drake was looking forward to denying him the 1880 Donkey Party presidential nomination at the convention. Short of finding some additional evidence, we may never know the answer to that question.


Those who collect encased postage will recognize the Drake name and product. The company issued a relatively large number of encased postage stamps in 1862.


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I had not noticed that, but I think it might just be a blundered die. When the die sinker was reaching for a punch, he grabbed the wrong one and then used the correct one the second time around.

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