Ten-Cent Henry Rice Sutler Coin

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Ten-Cent Henry Rice Sutler Coin
Historical artifacts
1 page | SMC 2241

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      Civil War sutlers were like modern-day Post Exchanges, but for three things: they moved with the troops; sold only to soldiers; and issued their own coins and currency, with which to pay for their wares.

       Sutler tokens and script were, in fact, an ingenious solution to a three-fold problem. That soldiers were paid in the field, was the first problem; that they were paid in gold and silver coins in denominations as large as possible, the second; and the third, as the direct result of the first two, was a  terrific shortage of small change. Johnny Reb or Billy Yank might then, on payday, exchange part of his private's rank $7.00-a-month salary for sutler tokens in the small amounts necessary to purchase the 5, 10, 25 and 50 cent items he was mostly likely to want. Thus regiments had, essentially, their own coinage, and a soldier might easily spend his money piecemeal, as he pleased.

       Henry Rice was the regimental sutler for M'Clernands Brigade Illinois Volunteers and too, an old friend of his fellow Illinoisan, Abraham Lincoln, who endorsed his appointment in 1861. A German-born Jewish merchant from Jacksonville, Rice knew Lincoln well, and had occasion to recommend him as a lawyer. He offered, in fact, to make Lincoln’s inauguration suit, and later, in the course of seeking an expanded franchise for military store-keeping, dined with him at the White House. 

      Sutlers, it is noted, were often regarded with hostility  by the troops whom they served, and occasionally, even the object of their wrath. No evidence exists to suggest that Henry Rice, however - distinguished as he was both before and after the War by his personal decency and philanthropic sympathies - incurred any such disregard.

      This 10 cent token is rare; not more than twenty are thought to exist.

      Illinois Volunteers Civil War Sutler token. H. Rice, M'Clernards Brigade / 10 cents in goods. Brass. 11mm.  Struck by John Stanton, Cincinnati. Very rare. Curto 242, Schenkman T10B, R7

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