Monday, September 7, 2015

Pickers' checks or tokens for Labor Day

In the early 1900s workers were given a metal token token or "check" for a set number of baskets filled with fruit or vegetables at "truck" farms.  Also for oysters shucked.  The discs were redeemed for merchandise at area stores or for cash. 

The token above is an early one from New York, marked 1863, and was found at President Martin Van Buren's Lindenwald and on their website.  Pages of British examples for hops, US civil war, and other examples HERE .

An article including interviews with pickers on early 20th century 'truck farms' in Anne Arundel County Maryland with photos (even of a pickers shanty and migrant workers traveling from Baltimore to the strawberry fields) is HERE

The picked items, such as fruits, vegetables and shucked oysters were sold to canneries or sold fresh.  The Smith & Wicks Canning Factory and Packing House, founded at Baltimore in 1872, had over 20 patents to manufacture safe soldered cans.  They also canned various items including tomatoes, oysters and pineapples (in Nassau).  An interesting illustrated article on the company and their token HERE 

To get all those oysters to can?  The workers who shucked oysters (took them out of the shells) were also given metal checks as tallies.
For further reading:
Mumford, Willard R. Strawberries, Peas and Beans: Truck Farming in Anne Arundel County. Linthicum, MD: Ann Arrundell Historical Society, 2000. [that is how the historical society spells theie name]

Schenkman, David E.  Maryland Merchant Tokens.  Baltimore: 1984 by the Maryland Token and Medal Society.  MTMS webpage HERE

©2015 Patricia Bixler Reber
Researching Food History HOME

No comments:

Post a Comment