• 1855 New York Temperence Token

        During the middle part of the 19th century Anti-Liquor sentiments were quite predominant in the United States. Known as the 'Temperance Movement', it was believed that many of the ills of society [at the time] could be directly attributable to the consumption of alcohol. More fundamentally, it was believed that in order for man to achieve true liberation and freedom, alcoholic beverages would have to be banished from society.

        It was for these reasons that the Temperance Movement grew in popularity. State by state, as the movement flourished and gained political clout, alcoholic beverages were banned and prohibited. On April 9th 1855 New York State passed its own version of Prohibition, entitled:
        An Act for the Prevention of Intemperance, Pauperism, and Crime.

        Immediately following passage of these various state laws, many of these legislative acts were challenged in courts. They were considered too controversial and were viewed as infringements on individual personal liberties. Very quickly thereafter, one-by-one and state-by-state, the laws were deemed unconstitutional. In New York, their Prohibition law was
        struck down by its Supreme Court in that same year.

        It wasn't until passage of the
        18th Amendment that the constitutionality of Prohibition was Federally addressed: Alcohol was banned nationwide. Quickly thereafter, it became quite apparent that the lofty views held by the Temperance Movement were quite Utopian. Indeed, many argue the Amendment itself made matters worse.

        On December 5th 1933 the 21st Amendment was ratified. Its passing repealed the 18th Amendment. Most ironically, it was the
        21st Amendment (Section 2) which finally addressed the constitutionality of state liquor laws which started State controversies some 80 years prior; It inured to the States such rights to decide, determine, define, and legislate the legality of alcohol within each of the states therein.

        Although not precisely known, the specimen was struck sometime shortly before 1856-1857, as such a specimen is described in the
        Catalogue of New York State Library: 1856 Maps, Manuscripts, Engravings, Coins, etc, published in 1857:

        Pictured below is a bronze Temperance Token which commemorates the passage of New York's Prohibition Law. Based on other specimens sold at auction, this specimen is approximately EF. It is one of several Temperance tokens that I have recently added to my coin cabinet. As was customary for these tokens, they were most frequently holed.

        - Cheetah