Eleanor Rugg Byrne Merchant Tokens


The Standard Catalog of U.S. Tokens states these were struck
in copper plain edge, copper reeded edge (3 only), brass,
white metal, and one known in gold. I do not know of the
existence of the gold example.

1859 Eleanor Rugg Byrne Token

NY 141, copper - plain edge, 31mm 

NY 141A, copper - reeded edge, 31mm
NY 142, brass, 31mm

NY 143, white metal, 31mm

Mathematician and civil engineer Oliver Byrne was born July 31, 1810 in County Wicklow, Ireland. Married to Eleanor Rugg in 1845 they emigrated to America by 1849 and settled in New York City. Sometime in 1859 before leaving the U.S. Oliver developed a new smelting process to produce a metal he called "Byrneore" or "Byrne metal" which could appear to be silver or gold but contained little of either metal. Although it was said to be indistinguishable from the real thing at a fraction the cost it seems never to have gone into production.
Thanks to Susan M. Hawes and Dr. Sid Kolpas for the above information. To read more on Oliver Byrne see their article 'Oliver Byrne: The Matisse of Mathematics' in the August 2015 edition of Convergence, published by the Mathematical Association of America.
Oliver Byrne circa 1850