by | Feb 4, 2024 | History, Numismatics

Phenomenal John T. Waterhouse Token Rarity Undated (ca. 1855-1860) Hawaii Plantation Token. John T. Waterhouse. Medcalf-Russell 2TE-1  PCGS AU55

This token offers almost unheard of quality for an elusive Hawaii issue that can be challenging to locate  in attractive circulated preservation. Struck in soft pewter, most examples are lightly defined at the central high points, and virtually all acquired unusually rapid wear from commercial use. 

John T Waterhouse was a well-known businessman in Hawaii who struck these pewter tokens at an early date, circa 1860. This Choice AU specimen exhibits well-detailed design elements, with the always-seen softness on King Kamehameha’s features. The lightly abraded pewter-gray surfaces retain traces of luster around the devices. This is the earliest known Hawaiian token, issued by the firm of John T. Waterhouse in Honolulu circa 1855 to 1860.

John Thomas Waterhouse had these tokens struck “to facilitate trade on the Islands,” according to Maurice Gould and Kenneth Bressett’s 1961 treatise, Hawaiian Coins, Tokens and Paper Money. Contrary to what the crude details might suggest, this is actually a relatively high-grade survivor with partial luster remaining. 

Uncirculated survivors are of the utmost rarity and, indeed,  only four such pieces have received a Mint State rating from PCGS.   This AU55 is one of the nicer AU55 that we have seen in the past 20 years that have been offered.   An extraordinary condition rarity that is fit for inclusion in the finest specialized cabinet.

Interesting FYI,  John T. Waterhouse’s actual house in Honolulu is now the headquarters of the Girl Scouts of Hawaii (see pic)

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Jon Lerner

Jon Lerner, Scarsdale Coin president, is a recognized expert in the numismatist field. Jon has spent over 30 years collecting and evaluating coins. He is often sought out by fellow coin collectors for his advice and knowledge of rare coins.


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Scarsdale Coin

Jon Lerner, a renowned figure in numismatics, discovered his passion for rare coins in his Scarsdale, New York upbringing. With a keen eye for quality, he founded Scarsdale Coin in 1985, quickly establishing it as a premier destination for collectors. Beyond dealing, Jon is a respected speaker and prolific writer, sharing his expertise with enthusiasts worldwide. His commitment to integrity and professionalism has earned him admiration throughout the numismatic community. Jon remains dedicated to enriching collectors' experiences and preserving the legacy of rare coins for future generations.