The NGC Census is a comprehensive listing of all the coins that NGC has certified, detailing the total number certified of each issue along with a breakdown by grade. The newly published Census of Hard Times Tokens includes over 2,000 individual tokens, and is available for free on NGC’s website: Hard Times Tokens in the NGC Census.
Hard Times Tokens, dating from 1832 to 1844, comprise a very popular and widely collected series of patriotic, satiric, and merchant tokens. Beginning in 1832, President Andrew Jackson sought to abolish the private Bank of the United States, believing it favored the interests of the wealthy. He succeeded in 1837 by vetoing the Second Bank, and instead funded state banks which were authorized to issue their own currency. The plan failed and hundreds of banks became insolvent. An economic crisis ensued, providing diverse source material for these tokens.
Hard Times Tokens were comprehensively cataloged by New York coin dealer Lyman Low at the turn of the century, describing over 180 tokens and defining the series. This work was revised by Russell Rulau beginning in the 1980’s, and renumbered with HT- numbers. NGC uses Rulau’s numbering convention for its certification, and organizes their Census in the order numbers are listed in Rulau's reference book.
Most pieces in the series are roughly the size of large cents, and struck in copper or brass. Many pieces include strong satiric imagery, including portraying Jackson as a boar and a donkey. Other pieces have a decidedly more numismatic bent, such as Feuchtwanger Coinage. Dr. Lewis Feuchtwanger’s alloy of copper, nickel, zinc, and tin was proposed as a low cost alternative to the copper composition used for making large cents. A number of experimental one cent pieces were struck and entered into commerce. They appear in the Hard Times Tokens census by their catalog number HT-268. NGC also designates die varieties for Feuchtwanger Cents.