William Talbot, William Allum and James Lee were merchants involved with the India trade in New York City. They formed a partnership in 1794 and set up shop at 241 Pearl Street. Upon opening, they commissioned Peter Kempson's mint in Birmingham, England to produce copper tokens for the firm. These tokens, probably designed by Thomas Wyon, were dated 1794 and 1795. They were intended to circulate as cents, although the tokens weighed the same as a British halfpenny.

The obverse of the token depicts the standing figure of Liberty (in the French style with her right breast exposed). In her right hand she holds a staff with a liberty cap on top. Behind her is a large bundled bale. Around the rim is the legend "LIBERTY & COMMERCE." On the edge of the token is: "PAYABLE AT THE STORE OF", which continues on the reverse with the legends "TALBOT, ALLUM & LEE / NEW YORK" and below "ONE CENT." Some early issues exclude "NEW YORK." The main image on the reverse depicts a merchant ship at sea. Several die varieties, as well as a limited number of proof coins, exist for both years.

This was the first American merchant token produced on a large scale. On April 23, 1795 William Talbot sold the Philadelphia mint 1,076 pounds (about 52,000) of these tokens for use as badly needed copper stock for production of 1795 half cents. The firm dissolved in late 1796 upon the retirement of James Lee. On December 10,1796 the Philadelphia mint purchased the remaining stock of these tokens (1,914 pounds) from Talbot and used them to produce 1797 half cents.