A Lesson in Patience from 18th Century Kentucky
Bear with me on this one, and before I begin, please be aware that I willingly chose to study Latin and ancient Greek as an undergraduate student. I promise, there’s a valuable lesson in here somewhere.
Our story begins in the 18th century, and it ends with our hero in prison. Well, not exactly. That’s where it should have ended, at least. Allow me to elaborate.
According to Numismatic News, an American named Philip Parry Price Myddelton had some lofty, albeit suspicious goals in mind. After a visit to England in 1794, he began to advertise in English newspapers claiming to have purchased land in Kentucky. His purpose? To attract settlers. His newspaper advertisements were not alone, however, in this marketing scheme.
To support his campaign, Myddelton had coins designed and produced by the Soho Mint, which he purportedly intended to use as incentive for anyone who would take up his offer and join him in Kentucky. On the front, they depicted a personified Hope welcoming settlers, with the words “British Settlement Kentucky” around the top. On the reverse, they showed Myddelton’s name, along with a deflated depiction of Brittania. Pretty neat, right? If you’re wondering whether Myddelton’s campaign was successful, well, it wasn’t exactly. In fact, it failed miserably.
It turns out, it was illegal at that time to try to attract British folks to the new United States. (Understandable, I guess, what with the recent revolution.) Ultimately, Myddelton was jailed for his efforts, and the coins were mostly confiscated. Alas, the best laid plans…
Only, the story doesn’t end here. It turns out that some of the coins survived. In fact, one just sold at auction for $24,314. Not bad for what was ostensibly a copper half-penny. Though Myddelton failed to create a settlement in Kentucky, all was not lost after all, as he created a promotional item that ended up becoming pretty valuable. It’s too bad he couldn’t have lived to see it.
So, be patient with your promotional marketing campaigns. If they fall short, it might not hurt to hold onto the items not just for posterity’s sake, but also for the off chance that they could be worth something one day. For a more recent example, check out what the Kansas City Royals have done with their leftover promotional items. Just remember, failure isn’t always final—you just might have to wait a couple centuries to find success.