In 2018, as I was gazing out my brothers bedroom window, I spotted this token on the ground, from the second story...in the dirt!
We swiftly ventured out to uncover, what we now know to be an antique merchants token.
This find opened my eyes to a whole world of collectible tokens and coins that I had not previously showed much interest in.
With so many "things" on this planet to collect and research in depth, it is impossible to cover them all in a lifetime, as interesting as they may be.
But every so often, you come across an item that you just have to know more about. One thing leads to another, and before you know it, you're a full blown collector, or enthusiasts at the very least.
This was the case with Douglas Wight, owner of the Chanceford Hall Bed and Breakfast, in the historic town of Snow Hill, Maryland, who also happens to be a collector of Worcester County's "merchant's tokens".
Doug had responded to a few questions I had asked in a group discussion, and mentioned that he had been collecting merchant's tokens for a few years.
His suggestion that my "found token" could be categorized as a merchant's token, led me to dig a bit deeper into discovering what exactly a merchant's token even was. (Confession, I had never heard of them before...)
Doug was kind enough to share his collection with me, and answer some questions I had regarding these very interesting pieces of history.
Q&A with Doug on His Collection
Q: How would you describe a merchant's token? What are they?
A: Merchant tokens were widely used on the eastern shore of Maryland (after the Civil War) by the canning industry, to pay laborers that picked or packed fruit, vegetables, oysters, crab, etc.
They were sometimes crudely made of copper, brass, fiber, or aluminum planchet, and were simply stamped with the canner’s initials, and a denomination such as 1 Bkt (bucket), or 1 Bas (basket).
These tokens were given out as a “unit of work”, redeemable on payday, and it eliminated the need to keep payroll records. Sometimes they had holes punched in them for easy keeping.
Q: How did you find your first token, and when?
A: On our annual visit to Snow Hill in August of 2013, we discovered Chanceford Hall; neglected, abandoned, & for sale.
I returned home & began to research “everything Chanceford & Snow Hill”. In the process, I discovered some local Worcester County merchant tokens on eBay, & it stirred an interest.
Q: What about them intrigues you? Why are they special to you?
A: I guess because they are historical artifacts of the eastern shore, Snow Hill, & Worcester County, & they are still available to collect.
Q: Where do you have the best luck finding more to add to your collection?
A: I have bought all of mine on eBay.
Q: Do you have a special way you like to display them?
A: I have them on display in a long wooden box, in our guest living room at Chanceford.
Q: Will you continue to collect them?
A: I began my collection then, and have not bought any since! (update: more were purchased on eBay and added to his collection after our discussion!) 😊
Q: Tell us about one that is particularly special to you, and why?
A: I have a brass, octagonal, 1 BKT token from the WESLEY CANNING CO. This cannery started operating during the early 1940’s in Snow Hill. There was also a factory at Girdletree.
Q: Do you recommend any resources that we can research to find out more about merchant's tokens?
A: I also found a book on eBay titled Maryland Merchant Tokens by David E. Schenkman 1986.
A Closer Look
Shown here, are photographs of Doug's merchant token collection.
As you can see, they tend to take on a variety of different forms.
Merchant's token's were often round, square, or octagonal, and made of different materials as Doug mentioned above.
Photo courtesy of Douglas Wight
In the picture below, you can see the very token Doug mentioned in our discussion that is of particular interest to him.
The front, is scribed "Wesley Canning Co." which represents a local Worcester County cannery from the 1940's.
Photo courtesy of Douglas Wight
Going Once, Going Twice, SOLD!!!
Doug's collection has been sourced mainly from sales on eBay. Check out these other local (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia) merchant's tokens being sold on eBay.
Vintage Cannery Token Delmar Packing Co, Delmar, Delaware.
Set of 2 Charles T. Wrightson Cannery Tokens Easton, Maryland
Vintage Cannery Token B. E. Harrington & Son, Taylor's Island, Maryland
WESTOVER MD MARYLAND ~ LONG BROS. GF " 1 " TOKEN ~ CANNERY 1914 - 1982 PRODUCE
Vintage Phillips Packing Co Factory "F" Cannery Token, Cambridge, Maryland.
Research and Value Merchant's Tokens
For more information about merchant's tokens, and how to identify them, please visit the marks and patterns library at WorthPoint.com. Here you will find 100,000+ identifiers and online books to help you identify the origin of your tokens.FREE 7-day Trial of the Worthopedia Price Guide, valued at $19.99/month, where you will gain access to over 300 million realized prices, details, and images from hundreds of different online marketplaces, to compare, price, and value your own collection for resale or personal use.
Thank You for Reading!
We'd like to thank our friend Doug Wight for taking the time to share his collection with us, and thank our readers visiting as well!
I would love to hear your thoughts or experiences with collecting tokens.
Please comment below!
Thanks for viewing! - Hallie 💗
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