Finding a creative way to advertise ones own business has always been a challenge for the small business owner. Business or merchant tokens became affordable in the late 18th and early 19th centuries due to technological advancements that decreased minting costs. If you were a merchant in a rapidly growing market such as New York City, the issuance of a token would certainly make the public become more aware of your company. Virtually all business tokens found their way into circulation, as there was a constant shortage of small change.

The Mott Token, with the quixotic date of 1789, has challenged numismatic historians for many years. The obverse (or reverse, depending on whose research you cite), features a regulator clock with the legend: MOTT'S N.Y. IMPORTERS, DEALERS, MANUFACTURERS, / OF GOLD & SILVER WARES. The reverse (other side!) shows a Federal-looking spread winged eagle wearing an American shield breastplate with an olive branch and arrows in its talons. The date 1789 is above the eagle. Around the rim is the legend: CLOCKS, WATCHES, JEWELRY, SILVERWARE, CHRONOMETERS. The token is found in both thick and thin planchet varieties. Some of the edges have an ornamented edge rather than a plain edge.

It has been hypothesized that the similarity of the eagle to Federal coinage of 1807, and gold coins of 1838, 1839 and 1840, makes this an issue of much later than 1789. For many years, this token was attributed to the firm of William and John Mott of 240 Water Street in New York City. Recent research has shown that the token was probably made for Jordan Mott of 247 Pearl Street in New York City. Jordan Mott is first listed in the New York business directory as a watchmaker in 1796. There was another Mott Company in New York in 1789, but they were grocers! The 1789 date may be intended to associate the token with the adoption of the Constitution or the inauguration of President Washington in New York, both of which happened in 1789! This token, surrounded by mystery (we don't even know where it was minted!), is a transitional link from the earliest days of our Republic to the dawn of the 19th Century.