Numismatic History and the Peale Family

Posted on 1/1/2006

The Peale family name is one familiar to those in the museum world and those in numismatics alike.

The Peale family name is one familiar to those in the museum world and those in numismatics alike. One member of this family of early American artists created and opened the Peale’s Museum in Philadelphia just after the Revolutionary War. This museum offered the new nation a place to display and view artifacts ranging from natural history specimens to works of art.

Ruben Peale, son of Charles Wilson Peale, had a career as an artist as did many members of the Peale family. Other family members were named after famous artists such as Rembrandt and Raphaelle Peale. Ruben Peale is also famous for opening a museum near City Hall in New York City. This museum was noted for its natural history collection.

This museum is also noted by collectors of Hard Times Tokens. Hard Times Tokens are those usually the size of current large cent coins issued by private individuals to make small change around the financial panic of 1833-44. Peale’s Museum in New York issued this token in 1825 though likely used throughout the Hard Times period. The Peale Museum token will admit the bearer as the reverse inscription reads and likely was used by individuals who bought annual attendance subscriptions at $10 per family.

The Peale family has another, perhaps stronger, connection to American Numismatic history. Another son of Charles Wilson Peale and brother of Ruben Peale, Franklin Peale, worked extensively for the U.S. mint and became the chief coiner in Philadelphia in 1839.

This example of the Peale Museum token was recently encapsulated by NCS. Because of an improper cleaning, this valuable token would not be certified by a major grading service such as NGC. The HT-303 refers to this token’s catalog number in Russel Rulau’s reference on Hard Times Tokens.

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