Mudgett Bar Token, c. 1900

Mudgett Token, c. 1900

I received these fantastic photos from Bob G. as a follow-up to yesterday’s post and they came with the following.  

Thanks Bob !!!

Attached is Decatur Mudgett token from his saloon.
He is listed as ‘saloon keeper’ in the 1900 census.
(I like collecting tokens, a pretty obscure bit of history).

I would love to get more history on use of the tokens.  Were they given away, used instead of credit or a bar tab…?  Any info would be greatly appreciated.


5 Responses to Mudgett Bar Token, c. 1900

  1. random guy says:

    the value of a dollar, circa 1900:

    “hey bartender, gimme ten cents worth of whiskey.”

    “woah there buddy, not before you give me your keys. And you best not throw up inside. The keys to your horse, that is.”

  2. Bob G says:

    Trade Tokens were used in almost every town in Humboldt County. They were used locally as early as 1888, hit their peak use between 1900 and 1915, and almost completely fell out of use with the start of prohibition in 1920. The majority of local tokens were issued by Saloons, some stating the full saloon name, others just stating the proprietors name. They were given in change mainly as an incentive to frequent that particular saloon. A beer was 5¢ and the barkeep could give a token (or 2) Good For 5¢ In Trade in change for a dime. A drink may have been 10¢, 15¢ or 2 for 25¢ and a token Good For 10¢ or 12½¢ In Trade could be given in change for a quarter and accepted on the next drink bought at that saloon. Usually the change given in tokens had more face value than change given in cash. The tokens had to be spent in that saloon so the proprietor always came out ahead.
    Bakeries also used tokens as a way of giving a discount and forcing the customer to come back. A quarter may get you 6 tokens Good For a 5¢ Loaf Of Bread.
    Cigar Stores, General Merchandise stores and Hotels also used tokens,(the hotel tokens were for use in their saloon).
    There are more than 300 different tokens from Humboldt County businesses and most are very difficult to find.
    The only genuine Indian – Trader tokens in the whole state were used locally. If anyone’s interested I’ll show & tell some day.

    • Lynette M says:

      Well, yeah, someone’s interested !!! That is absolutely fascinating information and I would LOVE to see more photos (if you’ve got ’em) of local tokens and get more info.

      And I have to admit I’ve never even heard of Indian-trader tokens and have no clue as to their purpose.

      Please share. Please ! If you send via email, I can share w/ others as a regular post. Comments are ok, but won’t be seen by as many folks.


  3. […] few weeks ago I was able to share great photos of  Bob G’s Mudgett saloon token from Fortuna. Tokens were used by various businesses and Bob has built quite a […]

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