|The New York Theatre Penny was issued in
London circa 1796 by Skidmore as part of a series of Penny tokens
depicting various buildings of architectural importance. Although
the coin is more properly a part of the British so-called "Conder"
tokens, the New York Theatre Penny has become a "must-have"
item for U.S. Colonial coin collectors.
Construction on New York's Park Theatre began in 1795 and the official
opening was held on January 29, 1798, when Shakespeare's "As You
Like It" was presented. In 1820, the Theatre burned to the
ground but was promptly rebuilt by owners John Jacob Astor and John K.
Beekman. A fire on July 4, 1821 delayed the re-opening and another
fire on December 16, 1848 destroyed the Theatre forever.
All of the known examples are Proofs that were struck for sale to
collectors. Contrary to some opinions, these Pennies were not used
for admission to the Theatre itself -- the only way they would have come
to America was if they had been purchased from the issuer by interested
Approximately 10-20 examples are known. All bear edge lettering
that reads: WE PROMISE TO PAY ON DEMAND THE BEARER ONE PENNY (Breen
lists an unverified plain edge).
Size: 34 mm
Engraver: B. Jacobs
Equivalents: Breen 1055 and 1056, Dalton & Hamer Middlesex 167
Some known examples:
1. PCGS Proof-65. The coin illustrated above.
2. Lot 1529 in Bowers & Ruddy's October 1980 sale of the
Garrett Collection, Part III at $8,000.
3. Lot 355 in Stack's December 1983 sale of the John L. Roper
collection at $4,400.
4. Norweb - David Palmer - Roger S.
Breen lists a possibly unique muling of the obverse of this coin with
a reverse of Wyon's 1797 Loch Leven Penny. This tin piece was
discovered in the 1890's by Dr. Benjamin P. Wright, became part of the
F.C.C. Boyd collection, thence to John J. Ford.