Trade Tokens: All New & Vintage IOUs Too!

BEHIND THE SCENES

Trade Tokens: All New, and Vintage Too

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We’re often asked how we came up with the idea for this or that, and while the answer is different every time, historical objects generally play a leading role in our creative process. Case in point: our newly revamped line of Trade Tokens are only the latest incarnation of a story that goes back thousands of years.

Just a few of our new Trade Tokens...

Just a few of our new Trade Token designs…

As Old as Barter

Before Bitcoin, before anyone had heard of the debt-ceiling, before the gold standard, before paper money, and even before ships sailed full of doubloons and pieces of eight, there was barter. And primitive tokens, whether made of metal, wood, clay, or seashells, were often used to keep track of accounts.

We love that our modern update of this ancient system encourages the kindness, generosity, and thoughtfulness that used to (and still can) form the core of a healthy family or community. Where modern forms of official currency fail us, a simple IOU given in good faith can initiate a series of selfless acts and a cycle of shared experience and appreciation.

 

Some of Our Favorite Vintage IOUs

Our modern Trade Tokens also connect us to small slivers of the past in unexpected ways. Check out these vintage IOUs covering everything from ice cream to fur pelts:

cotton

I wonder what a dollar used to buy at the Clinton Cotton Mill Store!

tomato

One hundred tomatoes!! Picked or peeled? Or maybe eaten!?

I wish I had a 3-digit telephone number...and some ice cream.

I wish I had a 3-digit telephone number…and some ice cream.

The canning companies made A LOT of barter tokens back in the day.

The canning companies made A LOT of barter tokens back in the day.

agri-checks

These check tokens were paid to field laborers and then redeemed later.

What could be better than lunch, AND beer?

What could be better than lunch, AND beer?

I think you once could get a lot more than you might think for a nickel.

I think you used to get a lot more than you might think for a nickel.

 

I like how open-ended these are. Amuse me. Sing me a song. Come on back...

I like how open-ended these are. Amuse me. Sing me a song. Come on back…

Exonumia Anyone?

Remarkably, there’s an entire field of study (called exonumia) and a quirky cadre of collectors devoted to hunting down vintage tokens of all shapes, sizes, and origin. Want to try your hand? Here are a sampling of live eBay auctions to get you started…

[phpbay keywords=”vintage trade tokens” num=”12″ siteid=”1″ customid=”Leafcutter” sortorder=”EndTimeSoonest” templatename=”columns” columns=”3″]

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Lea Redmond is always looking for the poem hiding inside things: a salt shaker, a clothes tag, a hand gesture, a cloud. She is infinitely intrigued by the way experiences can slip from the ordinary to the extraordinary and she endeavors to design things that hold this possibility. Leafcutter Designs, her creative studio in Berkeley, CA, makes the world more playful and peaceful one little experience at a time.

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