There are many kinds of “tokens” that folks collect and even use today, or remember from only a few years back. There are token coin types that have been used for trade, advertising, currency, slot and game machines, car washes, transit tokens, etc. Typically it is understood that coins are known to be issued by a governmental agency while tokens have a limited use and often issued by a company, organization or even an individual. Tokens have been made of the less expensive metals (such as copper, tin, brass) or even leather, porcelain, wood and other materials.
Throughout history it appears that tokens often were used when there was a coin shortage, whether it is a geographical shortage because of distance and shipping, or when a particular metal was in demand elsewhere. At other times they have simply been used as a unique item for advertising or to garner interest! Back in 1880 merchants in the
States were widely using trade tokens for a
variety of reasons. When a customer made
a purchase at their place of business, often times they were given a token in
return. Many times the tokens were for
specific items, for example, “Good for 1 drink” at a particular saloon, or
perhaps “Good for 5¢ in Trade” or other small denominations. Tokens usually had the name of the business
and city or town on one side, and the “good for” notation on the other. Tokens of this type would have only been used
at one place of business. More current
tokens folks may remember as “wooden nickels” where they were often used for a
cup of coffee, or an anniversary memento.
Tokens of various types have been actively collected by many folks, for Yreka there are a number of tokens that have been used throughout the years, but often the more “interesting” ones are the tokens of yesteryear. They give us a peek into the past often naming a place we never knew existed! Some of the tokens are quite rare! Some of the businesses in Yreka that have issued tokens in the more distant past are: Bella Union Saloon, Yreka Cigar Store, Our House Billiard Parlor, Rex Club, The Office Saloon, C. Allen Bath Token, The Bee Hive, The Dew Drop, Franco American Hotel meal token, Melody Mart and Con Brown’s. In the past 30 years we have seen other Yreka tokens issued from: TJ’s, Jerry’s Car Wash, Soft Spray Car Wash, Sambo’s Restaurant, Burger King, and an anniversary token for the National Historic District.
There are probably many other businesses that have issued tokens here in Yreka, and to our knowledge there currently isn't a comprehensive display of Yreka tokens anywhere to be found. It would be a fun collection to view!
Copyright: Claudia East, 2014