Author Topic: Jos Stiner & Co tokens of New York  (Read 305 times)

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Offline brandm24

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Jos Stiner & Co tokens of New York
« on: June 30, 2019, 02:52:38 PM »
This is an interesting series of tea and coffee tokens issued in the mid to late 19th century by New York merchants  Joseph and Jacob Stiner. They, along with other family members Philip Stiner and son in law Moses H. Moses, dominated the market for more than two decades. As a matter of fact the company, boasting over 60 stores at its height, was considered the first chain store in America. An early Starbucks, if you will.

Though the tokens on their face seem simple enough to understand, there are two devices that have puzzled researchers. The founding date "1840" and the counterstamped , depressed  six-pointed stars with various raised letters inside them. I started researching this issue in 2006, and over the years came to understand the meaning of both.

The date 1840 was a mystery because the Stiners didn't arrive in New York until 1852 or shortly after. How could they found their company more than a dozen years before their arrival? They couldn't have, of course. An exhausting study of early New York City directories and other sources told the story.

 One of the earliest tea merchants in the city, Edward Christianson, traded under the name New York & China Tea Co. starting at least as early as 1841. Over the years, the Stiners alternately use both Joseph Stiner & Co. and the New York & China Tea Co. Christianson disappeared from city records in 1852, just about the time of the Stiner's arrival. My assumption is that the brothers acquired Christianson's four properties as well as his company name at that time. Since "Founded 1840" gave the new company some longevity, they decided to put it on their tokens.

As far as the lettered stars go, the problem was much more difficult to solve. As a matter of fact, it wasn't until I was reviewing my notes for this thread that their meaning finally dawned on me. Each star represents a different month of issue.

All known letters stamped within the stars range from "O" through "Z", a total  of 12. No token was ever discovered with a letter "A" through "N". These letters were simply never used. Although I haven't seen a "X" or "Z", they probably exist. After all, I only recently discovered a token stamped "V".

 The thing that really clinched it for me was the rereading of an 1890's newspaper article that had been in my file for years. The police had discovered the dead body of an unidentified women in Central Park, and in an effort to identify her found a Stiner tea token among her belongings. They were told by the clerk in the local store that he couldn't tell who it had been issued to, but it had been given out in November. I can't think of any other way he would know that except for the letter. It's odd how the answer was right in front of me all those years and I never recognized it.

The denominations 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and 1 (pound) represent the amount of tea the token was valued at. In those days, tea was packaged in blocks of those sizes, wrapped in foil and labeled. The cost at the time was about $1 a pound. As might be expected, the 1/4 denomination tokens are the most common. The 3/4 and 1 pound pieces are very rare. BTW, the reverse on these pieces are the same.

Bruce
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Offline brandm24

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Re: Jos Stiner & Co tokens of New York
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2019, 05:33:19 PM »
I forgot to post the picture of the standard reverse. Also added a trade card and tin.

Bruce
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Offline malj1

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Re: Jos Stiner & Co tokens of New York
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2019, 11:26:55 PM »
Quote
....he couldn't tell who it had been issued to, but it had been given out in November....

Presumably this was the letter 'Y' in a star ??? ...this particular token would be a nice addition to the collection.  8)
Malcolm
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Offline brandm24

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Re: Jos Stiner & Co tokens of New York
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2019, 01:13:24 AM »
I wish some mention was made of the letter. That would have made it interesting.

 I always wondered why they didn't start at the beginning of the alphabet, but I suppose we'll never know.

Bruce
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