The PCGS Coin Guide has a blurb on these tokens, describing them as 'among the most interesting of all early American issues'.
They were struck in copper by Dr. Samuel Higley of Granby, Connecticut. Higley had a medical degree from Yale College, but also 'practiced blacksmithing and made many experiments in metallurgy. In 1727 he devised a practical method of producing steel.'
He produced these tokens to accommodate a local lack of small change denominations, but oddly enough, in addition to the denomination of 'III' meaning three pence, it bears the whimsical inscription of 'value me as you please'. What a great idea!
There is an interesting thread (click here) containing a ton of pictures and information on these tokens over on the Collector's Universe. We definitely suggest checking it out! An excerpt from the thread: 'Legend tells us that drinks in the local tavern sold at the time for three pence each, and Higley was in the habit of paying his bar bill with his own coinage. '
These tokens are very rare today, and counterfeits exist as well as modern replicas. The latter will look like it was made yesterday with shiny surfaces and no wear, while a counterfeit will be made to look as though it is old, with artificial wear and toning added to the surfaces. Our secondary picture to the right shows a typical modern replica.
The fact that Olen's token is corroded, mutilated, repulsive looking, yet in a plastic holder is actually good news. Counterfeiters will often make their coins look *worn but attractive*. Genuine tokens will often have been through a lot, and suffered some damage. With most coins, this renders them noncollectable, but these tokens are so rare that they retain value even with serious issues.
Depending on the condition, these can be worth quite a bit, as outlined in the approximate catalog values given below:
worn: $10,000 US dollars
average circulated: $80,000
well preserved: $200,000
If you believe that you have a genuine specimen of these tokens, we highly recommend that you take all steps necessary to protect the coin from further wear, and let a professional at a coin shop look at the coin! Consider having it authenticated, graded, and encapsulated by PCGS, NGC, ICG, or ANACS (look them up on the Internet, do not use other services).