Coins and Canada - Merchant tokens

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Post-confederation merchant tokens of Canada

Commercial tokens were useful for the merchant because they were a form of inexpensive advertising, they gave the merchant money in advance (like today's gift cards) of providing the goods or service, they saved the merchant from using cash to make change or small purchases, and they ensured customer loyalty: unlike cash, tokens could be redeemed only at the establishment of the issuing merchant.

This section presents different post-confederation commercial tokens of Canada. The links below will guide you to the description and characteristics of these types of tokens and see various errors, varieties and values.

Amusement tokens

Amusement tokens were distributed through slot machines and other automated equipment. The machines were a form of gambling but because they dispensed tokens or prizes instead of cash, owners and operators were able to evade the law.

Bakery tokens

Bakeries sold tokens, often at a discount, in large centres with home delivery as a way of encouragingcustomers and securing payment in advance, while in smaller centres they were distributed in part payment to suppliers.

Cigar tokens

Were distributed, like the dairy, gakery, general merchant tokens, in advance for cash payment or promissory note. These tokens were rarer probably because they represented luxury items rather than staples, and consumerspreferred to pay cash on an as-wanted basis.

Dairy tokens

The Canadian dairy industry has bequeathed a tangible numismatic legacy in the form of tokens that were once used by customers to purchase dairy products. From the late 19th century through the 1960s and 1970s, dairy distributors of Canada issued a wide array of tokens as monetary substitutes for advertising purposes and for customer convenience and home delivery.

General merchant tokens

Tokens redeemable for a set value of merchandise. Inscriptions often read good for x cents in merchandise or trade. In lieu of cash or credit, general merchants distributed tokens in payments to local suppliers, thus removing the need to keep detailed account books.

Tavern, billiard and hotel tokens

Tokens used used in taverns, bars, hotels and for billiard.

Miscellaneous post-confederation merchant tokens

Post-confederation tokens not classified (yet) in the categories above.

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