Sign up for the monthly zoom events by sending a PM with your email address to Hitesh

Main Menu

Strange Brothel Token? (erotic content)

Started by Natnat, December 26, 2010, 08:19:38 AM

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


I've come into possession of this token which I've been told is a WWI brothel token. However, I've never seen one like it so I can't be sure...

It's approximately:
2" x 2.5"
"EMBLEME DE LA PURETE" is on the reverse (french for "symbol of purity")

sorry for the poor image quality!


From memories of talking to my grandfathers who fought in what the Americans call the French beaucoup I suggest it was used by ladies of the night to show they were not carrying adverse infections and thus commanded a premium.

Just a memory possibly wrong.


Most of the so called brothel tokens in the US are actually fantasy and souvenir pieces of reasonably recent manufacture.  While not really a theme that interests me all that much, I would be very interested in learning if any of them were EVER actually used for the purported purposes at the time the establishment was a real going concern.

How did you acquire such a token?  Buy 10 get one free?   ;D



I'm aware of the fantasy brothel tokens throughout the United States. The token came from a vintage store near my home, which does focus on world war era ephemera . When I first saw this I thought it was some kind of fertility token based on it's shape and imagery. I don't really care if it's a brothel token or not - I'd just love to find out what it's story is.


The problem with all "brothel tokens" is that there is no explanation for how they are used. Take Akona's explanation. After each transaction, the lady in question would have had to be re-checked and the token re-awarded. So how would that be done? Would she give it to the serviceman? How would he dispose of it, rather than trade it for a discount with the next one? The only story that made some sense is connected to a Danish token, which was distributed free of charge to the ladies-in-waiting and was good for a medical examination. It has nothing to do with brothels, though.

So if it's not a brothel token, what is it? I can only speculate and there are too many possibilities to make an educated guess. One thing to keep in mind is that if it surfaced in the US, it may be Canadian, rather than French.

An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.


In the gold fields in Kalgoorlie from the discovery of gold for many years brothel tokens were sold by the local barbers. The men would then take the token to the lady in return for services rendered. The lady would then take the token back to the barber for her cut in the deal. The barber was the pimp and the money was already collected so the ladies had no money hassle in the transaction.


I've recently come into a coin of quite similar a match, almost identical actually.

From what I understand, coins of this type belonged to a feared pirate of the high french seas who had a fascination with rounded triangles, as well as the engorged genitals of the female gender. These coins were issued to each and every woman that he plundered so as to remember the blessed event.  However the pirate was a little misguided in how these women viewed the experience and most tried to block the memory of his awkward sexual positions.  If I remember more to the story I'll be sure to let you know. 

Alan Glasser

As long as we're on the topic of "off color" coins, I traded one to a friend years ago for a bunch of minor error nickels. For some reason he was fascinated with it......

It was a well worn U.S. large cent, 1820, where somewhat less than artfully, someone had altered the E in CENT to a U. I asked a few dealers about it and they thought that it might be a brothel token (sure wish I saved a photo!!!) but for 1 must have been pretty rough in the brothel business. I guess it wasn't "made" during the California gold rush...maybe it bought a box of popcorn during intermission...... :o


Sounds more like a "joke" than a token. ANyone with the right tools could have done it, but for what purpose? As dalehall said, US brothel tokens are fantasy and I have never found a good explanation as to how they were used. I have one in my own collection that served as a advertising token, but certainly wasn't good for any "services".

An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Guillaume Hermann

The first is probably a fake. I never saw fakes brothel (I am learning new English vocabulary, thanks to all of you ! I wonder if it will be very useful for finding a job...  ;D) tokens on a triangular form, but the design reminds me immediately this
It does exist with fake Italian king's profile, too. Fake brothel tokens, so-called dating from the 19th century, seems to appear only a few years ago and we find more and more of them. They are almost always of very bad quality, but quite expensive.

Tokens surely known for being French brothel tokens are very soft, never direct. And the name and address of the brothel are usually written on it, for example the last here close


The "Connect With an Aries" piece is fairly modern (1970's - 1980's maybe later). It is part of a series, one for each zodiacal sign, with a related sexual message. These are generic peep show tokens used in the USA. By "generic" I mean they were a stock item, sold with the peep show machinery, and used by many different businesses in different states. They were used for watching an erotic movie (that is, porn movie), and you had to put in several, one at a time, to see the whole movie. I have heard that there was at least one place which had similar booths where you could observe live women, but I don't know if that is true, nor where it was, nor whether tokens were used.  * * *  As for brothel tokens, there is a book published in the 1960's called "Red Lights and Brass Checks" which was a history of brothels in one of the western USA cities (Denver?). The "Brass Checks" refers to tokens used by the brothels. It is true that nearly all of the so-called brothel tokens seen today are fantasies. The most common are those which are dollar size brass, often with incuse lettering, usually claiming to be from frontier towns. Such pieces (there are probably 20 different kinds) turn up on Ebay all the time. They were made in the 1960's or 1970's, probably in California, and are still available at flea markets out west by the bucketfull. * * *  Within the last 10 years, someone in the USA has published a catalog of sexually related tokens, but I don't recall the author or title. It was advertised in one of the token magazines at the time.
Researcher on coins, paper money and tokens of China.


The question of "legitimate" brothel tokens as opposed to fantasies comes up all the time. This token for Miss Olga's Brothel in Denver is authentic and one of only 3 or 4 known. There are many, many fakes of this same piece out there, but they're poorly made and easily spotted.

This one is a brass shellcard and dates to the 1880's. It's been authenticated by western token experts, so it's authentic. I'm not sure how it was used, but apparently had some value if presented at the brothel.

The notorious red light district in frontier Denver was centered around Market and Holiday Sts. They were confined to certain areas of the city, but the off-limit boundaries were sometimes blurred. The prostitutes were actually registered and in 1882 there were 480 legally soliciting in the city.

Miss Olga's, Mamie Darling's, and the Silver Dollar Hotel were three of them. I've attached images of a brothel at 2130 Market very near Miss Olga's at 2148. The group picture is of Mamie's girls (she's dressed in black).

Always Faithful


Hello brandm24
Your Olga's token is clearly authentic
On top of this, it has a french design :
Obverse has typical letters
Reverse has a rather common design found on french brothel tokens
Here is an example for "Aux Glaces" which was a famous Paris brothel