Rarity is important because it is one of several factors affecting the price of a token. The rarity of Civil War Tokens is, at best, an educated guess based on the experience of collectors and scholars in the field. The Fulds have developed a scale that has been in use for more than sixty years and ranges from R1 (very common) to R10 (unique--only one known). The second edition of Civil War Sutler Tokens & Cardboard Scrip began using the Fuld rarity scale, but only R4 to R10. The complete rarity scale is presented below :

R1 Greater than 5000 (Very Common)
R2 2001 to 5000
R3 501 to 2000
R4 201 to 500
R5 76 to 200
R6 21 to 75
R7 11 to 20
R8 5 to 10
R9 2 to 4
R10 1 (believed to be unique)

    This rarity scale is based on the assumption that about 1-3 million Civil War tokens are still in existence. Even if this is not a good estimate, the ratings will still have the same relative meaning. This is especially true of rarities of R-7 or higher, which are based on actual surveys of the largest collections still in existence and include most of the off-metals known.

    Rarity is a relative term. The total number of specimens of the most common varieties is less than the total number of 1909-S VDB Lincoln cents. However, since Civil War Token are far less sought-after by collectors, compared to the 1909-S VDB Lincoln cent, they sell for much less. Rarity defines supply, but collectors establish the demand.


    Civil War Tokens were struck in a variety of metals and hard rubber. The table below lists the code (for Store Cards), abbreviation, and composition :

a C Copper
b BR Brass (see note 1 below)
c N Nickel (see note 2 below)
d C-N Copper-Nickel
e W-M White Metal
f S Silver (see note 3 below)
g L Lead
h R Rubber
i Z Zinc
j G-S German Silver
k G-T Gilt
m T Tin (see note 4 below)
r AL Aluminum (see note 5 below)
Spl Silver plated

Zinc plated
  1. The amount of tin in copper alloy planchets was inconsistent, resulting in some copper tokens having a yellow brassy appearance. Only tokens that, when minted, had a "doorknob" yellow color are considered to be brass. There are professionally graded tokens with the "b" designator on the slab that are obviously copper.
  2. The "c" designator is no longer used on Civil War tokens. Previously thought to have been nickel they have been found to be alloys of nickel, and are now considered to be German Silver.
  3. A caution on "silver" tokens: many copper and brass tokens have been plated with silver over the years.
  4. The "m" code for Tin is no longer used. They are considered to be White Metal.
  5. There is a single Civil War Token struck in Aluminum.
The amateur collector often has great difficulty distinguishing between the various metals. The best solution to this problem is to consult a reputable dealer.

U.S. Civil War Store Cards by George and Melvin Fuld, Third Edition, Edited by John Ostendorf. 2014
Patriotic Civil War Tokens 1861-1865 by George and Melvin Fuld, Sixth Edition, Edited by Susan Trask. 2018
Civil War Sutler Tokens & Cardboard Scrip by David Schenkman, Second Edition Edited, by Richard Irons. 2014