The token pictured above is made of brass and measures 22mm in diameter. It is listed as catalog number 2985-A5 in South Carolina Tokens and carries a rarity rating of R9 (3 or 4 known). This rarity rating is somewhat misleading as it reflects the two or three tokens known in the hands of Geraty's family members. The token pictured above is the only specimen known to be in collectors' hands, so perhaps a rating of R10 is more appropriate.
There are two unusual aspects of the obverse of this token which I would like to point out. One is the misspelling of the town name on the token - not that Yonges Island was ever a "town" in the true sense of the word. But it was an official post office mail destination, and thus qualifies as a "town" in the world of token collecting. Apparently the name was quite frequently misspelled, appearing incorrectly as Young's Island as often not. Also, I would like to point out the initials "B.F." placed between the "town" name and the state abbreviation. I have never been able to discover what these initials stand for. Often the initials or signature of the token maker appear on the obverse of a token, but usually as very small letters in an inconspicuous place. The initials on this token are the same size as the remainder of the legend, and do not correspond to any diesinker or token-producing firm that I know of. I have always entertained the thought that they may be an integral part of the address of Geraty's business, with the "F." standing for "Ferry." Such a supposition would then make sense of the placement and size of the letters. But I can find nothing on numerous maps of Yonges Island that would correspond to "B.F." If any reader has other thoughts on the matter, I would certainly like to hear them. Please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org .
If you have read the title of this month's webpage very carefully, you are probably wondering what truck drivers have to do with token collecting and I don't blame you. But I am not talking about that type of trucking industry. The trucking industry that I am referring to was engaged in raising vegetables for market.
The growing of truck (produce) for market in South Carolina began shortly after the end of the Civil War, when William C. Geraty and his partner, Frank W. Towles began operations on a small scale. The industry, however, did not take off until the 1890s. Unparalleled development began in that decade and continued into the 1920s. Growth in the trucking industry has slowed since then, but a considerable amount of truck is still grown in the coastal areas of South Carolina.
In 1868, William C. Geraty began his operations on Yonges Island, one of the barrier islands near Charleston. At that time, Frank W. Towles was just a silent partner, still residing in New York. The business grew over the years, and in the early 1900s, Geraty claimed that he was the largest shipper of cabbage plants in the world (see photo below). By this time he had specialized in raising cabbage plants from seed and then shipping the young plants to other farms where they were raised to maturity.
A photo of one of Geraty's railcars which advertised his farming business.
Geraty also raised other vegetables - cantaloupes, asparagus, beans, and potatoes in particular - and was a dealer in Sea Island cotton seed (see letterhead below). He also operated a general store and paid off his field workers in tokens. Other denominations exist besides the 5-cent specimen pictured as the token of the month. Fifty-cent, twenty five-cent, and ten-cent denominations also exist. All are very rare in collectors' hands.
An ornate letterhead from one of Geraty's letters also misspells Yonges Island.
William Geraty died in the winter of 1908, but the company he had formed continued to operate in his name for some years, being run by his heirs. There was also some type of business association with the Yonges Island Mercantile Company, which also issued tokens, but the full nature of these ties is presently unknown.
Copyright 1990, 1999 by Tony Chibbaro. Part of the text above was excerpted from South Carolina Tokens, by Tony Chibbaro, published by the Token and Medal Society in 1990. If you are interested in purchasing the reference work from which the above was excerpted, please click on the following link: Books.
If you collect or have a casual interest in South Carolina tokens or tokens issued by cotton mills, lumber companies, or other types of businesses, you may want to purchase my book, South Carolina Tokens and its two supplements. To read a description of these standard references, please click on this link: Books.
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