Collecting Salisbury tokens can be an interesting hobby. You have to be prepared to not find a lot of tokens available. Usually, they are issued these days to commemorate an historical event or to commemorate an historical event of the past. There can be of any number of varieties. The best are struck metal, but that doesn’t preclude the inclusion of wooden nickels or plastic discs.
I think the best are the ones issued by businesses either for a redeemable amount or just to advertise the business. I have seen tokens from confectioneries, clothing stores, banks, insurance companies, taxis, the electric company, food distributors, laundries, a car wash, gaming tokens, the local pump company, the zoo and fraternal organizations.
Salisbury had six different bus tokens issued in the 1960’s and 1970’s. There was one that instead of Salisbury, Md. it was struck as Salisbury, Mo. None of them are particularly scarce, but you rarely see them around here.
I also include dog tags issued either by Salisbury or Wicomico County in this category. They make nice mementos of the past, even though they are still issued every year now.
The most interesting one I have is from the Jackson Lumber Company. Actually it is from Riderwood, Alabama. I saw it in an auction from California years ago and researched it. It seems that Riderwood is named for Noah Rider, the brother of Nannie Rider Jackson. She was married to Elihu Jackson, and Noah’s job was to look after his brother-in-law’s lumber interests in Alabama. The town that sprang up around the lumber mill became Riderwood. It was a most unusual auction in that what you bid was what you bid. They didn’t reduce the highest bid to a notch over the second highest bid. I knew the fellow running the auction and phoned him to tell him of my intense interest in the token. He knew by my telling him of the research I had done that I really wanted the token. He said that he didn’t give out any knowledge of bids during the auction but that he would make an exception for me and tell me on the last day how I stood. I agreed. When I called him on the last day, he said he could tell me two things. First, he said I had the highest bid. And second, that I had the highest bid “by a long shot”. I ended up with the token, but I exited that organization because of their bid process. Still and all, I added a nice token.
The only qualification necessary to collect Salisbury tokens is that “Salisbury, Md.” is on the token. “Wicomico” is also acceptable. The Riderwood token is an exception, but the connection is undeniable and makes for a good story.
Another exception I have made is canning house tokens. These are fascinating because of the research involved in identifying them. I have six that can attributed to Salisbury, although only The Pratt Company, which operated in Salisbury from 1942-1945, has “Salisbury, Md.” on it. Canneries were often catalogued by the owner’s name and they were usually only the money behind the operation. Such examples for Salisbury are the William H. Jackson cannery from 1901 and the W. F. Messick cannery. The Messick cannery was located in Allen, but the office was in his ice house in Salisbury. Actually, W. F. Messick’s brother ran the cannery in Allen.The noteworthy firm of John H. Dulany in Fruitland operated a cannery with a man named Hastings in Salisbury from 1919-1926. Insley and Mitchell had a cannery on Truitt Street in Salisbury from 1917-1950. I grew up a half block from this cannery. With the smells generated by the heat of the summer, I was well-grown before I could eat a tomato. W. K. Leatherbury operated a cannery on the river from 1908-1927. He also had an oyster operation in the winter and had tokens for both his cannery in the summer and another for the oysters in the winter. Another oyster shucker operated on S. Division Street. His name was W. D. Turner and the token reveals that his son was in business with him. His tokens were given out for the number of gallons shucked. The Turners are listed in the 1907 Salisbury City Directory.