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...

VINTAGE CHURCH STREET STATION BUFFALO TRADING COMPANY BRASS TRADE TOKEN
VINTAGE CHURCH STREET STATION BUFFALO TRADING COMPANY BRASS TRADE TOKEN
$9.95
End Date: Friday Mar-22-2019 5:40:37 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $9.95
Buy It Now | Add to watch list
VINTAGE TITUSVILLE CENTENNIAL 1867-1967 FLORIDA SOUVENIR HALF DOLLAR TRADE TOKEN
VINTAGE TITUSVILLE CENTENNIAL 1867-1967 FLORIDA SOUVENIR HALF DOLLAR TRADE TOKEN
$9.95
End Date: Friday Mar-22-2019 5:45:50 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $9.95
Buy It Now | Add to watch list
Vintage 1954 Latrobe PA Pennsylvania Centennial Good For 50c In Trade Coin Token
Vintage 1954 Latrobe PA Pennsylvania Centennial Good For 50c In Trade Coin Token
$6.99
End Date: Friday Mar-22-2019 7:49:41 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $6.99
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BOONE IOWA 1965  VINTAGE GOOD FOR .50 TRADE TOKEN 4425L
BOONE IOWA 1965 VINTAGE GOOD FOR .50 TRADE TOKEN 4425L
$8.99
End Date: Friday Mar-22-2019 8:19:31 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $8.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list
Silver Cup Trade Token Vintage Good for 5 Brass 22x2mm CB Co Antique Exonumia
Silver Cup Trade Token Vintage Good for 5 Brass 22x2mm CB Co Antique Exonumia
$3.79
End Date: Friday Mar-22-2019 11:08:05 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $3.79
Buy It Now | Add to watch list
(I) Vintage USA Trade Token G/F $1.00 Pastime 216 S. 2nd Ave Grand Junction, Co.
(I) Vintage USA Trade Token G/F $1.00 Pastime 216 S. 2nd Ave Grand Junction, Co.
$12.95
End Date: Friday Mar-22-2019 11:13:29 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $12.95
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Vintage Neaner's White Front Montgomery, MN Green Plastic Trade Token Minnesota
Vintage Neaner's White Front Montgomery, MN Green Plastic Trade Token Minnesota
$4.99
End Date: Friday Mar-22-2019 11:15:05 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $4.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list
Vintage Rack Em Up New Germany, MN Blue Plastic Trade Token - Minnesota
Vintage Rack Em Up New Germany, MN Blue Plastic Trade Token - Minnesota
$4.99
End Date: Friday Mar-22-2019 11:17:57 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $4.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list
Vintage A Better Place Park Rapids, MN Green Plastic Trade Token - Minnesota
Vintage A Better Place Park Rapids, MN Green Plastic Trade Token - Minnesota
$4.99
End Date: Friday Mar-22-2019 11:24:22 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $4.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list
Vintage Bootlegger's Bar Pierz, MN Pink Plastic Trade Token - Minnesota
Vintage Bootlegger's Bar Pierz, MN Pink Plastic Trade Token - Minnesota
$4.99
End Date: Friday Mar-22-2019 11:26:37 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $4.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list
Vintage Plainview, MN Liquor Store White Plastic Trade Token - Minnesota
Vintage Plainview, MN Liquor Store White Plastic Trade Token - Minnesota
$4.99
End Date: Friday Mar-22-2019 11:28:49 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $4.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list
Vintage Andy's Sports Bar Red Wing, MN Orange Plastic Trade Token - Minnesota
Vintage Andy's Sports Bar Red Wing, MN Orange Plastic Trade Token - Minnesota
$4.99
End Date: Friday Mar-22-2019 11:30:29 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $4.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list
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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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