An article by Jeff Starck in the May 25, 2014 Coin World highlights a rare token from the North West Company. Here/s an excerpt.
A rare token from the history of North American exploration and commercialization highlights Geoffrey Bell Auctions’ May 29 and 30 sale in Toronto.
The North West Company token, a rarity in brass (most are found in copper), is probably the finest known example, and certainly the best example ever handled by the auction firm, according to Brian Bell, the firm’s president.
The North West Company was a competitor of the more famous Hudson Bay Company.
The North West Company was formed around 1779 in Montreal. Early leaders were the Frobisher brothers, Simon McTavish, Peter McGill, and 16 other investors and agents, holding 20 shares in all. The agents were the individuals who spent the fur trading season in fur country overseeing trade with the aboriginal peoples.
The Hudson and North West companies merged in 1821 but not before numerous minor skirmishes, culminating in the Battle of Seven Oaks, between traders for the two companies.
The tokens were made in Birmingham, England, by John Walker & Co., for use promoting the fur-trapping enterprise in the Pacific Northwest. Tokens were reportedly good for one beaver pelt (which explains the beaver shown on the reverse).
Most of the surviving tokens of the North West Company have been unearthed in the lower Columbia River valley. The aboriginal tribes of that area had a practice of burying a deceased person’s belongings with the body. Many of the extant tokens found today are corroded as a result, having been underground for lengthy periods of time.
To read the complete article, see:
Rare North West Company token in brass highlights Geoffrey Bell Auctions’ Toronto sale
Wayne Homren, Editor
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