It can get awfully hot in the Midlands of South Carolina during the dog days of summer. So, as an antidote to a seemingly unending string of 95-degree days during June 2004, my wife and I decided to cool off a little by taking a weekend trip to the mountains of North Carolina. I knew that the mountain apples wouldn’t be ripe until Fall, so I thought I would try my hand at some cherry picking instead - some exonumic cherry picking, that is.
We arrived in Asheville on a Friday evening, just in time to experience a sudden downpour which drowned out our candlelight dinner at one of the downtown sidewalk bistros. We set out undaunted the next morning, however, after a gourmet breakfast at the turn-of-the-century bed and breakfast at which we were staying. (Oh-oh, I’m beginning to sound a little too much like Cliff Mishler. I promise not to mention anything more about food!) My exonumic radar must be a finely-tuned instrument, because the very first antique mall we entered produced a hit. On the top shelf of the first glass case in which I looked, sat an item in a small ziploc bag that looked very promising. I tried to read the inscription through the wrinkled and dirty plastic, but all I could make out was “50¢.” My anticipation quickened as I asked the clerk to open the case so that I could get a better look at the item. Immediately upon pulling it out of the bag, I could tell it was a trade token - and one that I hadn’t seen before. One side of the 50-cent-sized brass token read: TIME / CHECK / 50¢ / W. SCOTT HARVIN and the other: PAYABLE ONLY TO / EMPLOYEES / 50¢ / NOT / TRANSFERABLE.
I was a little disappointed that the token did not show the town and state of origin, but with only a $3.00 price tag, I figured that, maverick or not, I had me a “cherry” of some sort. The only question was how good of a “cherry” it was. The wording “time check” and “only to employees” brought up the possibility that the token was issued by a lumber manufacturer or a cotton mill. If so, that would make the “cherry” much sweeter, especially if it could be attributed to its town and state of origin.
A quick phone call to a token-collecting friend produced both good news and bad news in the same instant. The bad news was that the issuer’s name did not appear in the digital database of attributed maverick tokens that Randy Partin and I compiled and published in 2004. The good news was that the issuer’s absence from the database meant that if I could positively attribute the token to its rightful place of origin, it would likely be a new find and probably quite rare.
I looked at the token several times over the next few days, and eagerly awaited my return home so that I could have access to my research materials. I figured that token was likely to be from somewhere in the Southeast - it had that kind of look to it - but it was too much to hope that it might be from my home state of South Carolina. Still, when I sat down at the computer, the first thing I checked was my database of South Carolina business directories. (Several years ago I took the time to digitize some of my Dun and Bradstreet mercantile directories. It took quite some time to enter all those names into the computer, but it really saves a lot of time now when I research maverick tokens.) So, hoping against hope, I typed in the last name “Harvin” on the search line and BINGO!!. It took all of about ten seconds to find a match. W. Scott Harvin was listed in the 1893 Bradstreet as a lumber manufacturer in Manning, SC. He was listed again in 1908 in Manning as manufacturing lumber and hosiery, as well as operating an electric lighting plant. He was not listed in the 1914 Dun. Well, it now seemed that I had certainly increased the sweetness of my “cherry.”
Portrait of W. Scott Harvin circa 1909.
Over the next week or so, I was able to gather much more information about W. Scott Harvin. Once I had a place to focus my searching, historical information was not scarce. It seems that Harvin had many irons in the fire throughout his life. At one time or another he operated the following businesses: lumber mill, hosiery mill, electricity generating plant, ice plant, logging railroad, general store, brickyard, grist mill, cotton gin, and turpentine still. Harvin’s father had been in the lumber business, so it seemed natural for young Winfield Scott Harvin to follow in his father’s footsteps. He worked in the family lumber mill, as well as on the family farm until 1879, when he started his own sawmill, cotton gin, and turpentine still. His brother, C.R., became a partner in the business in 1890. The mill specialized in flooring, siding, and moldings and shipped most of their product to the Northeast. In 1896 Harvin founded the Manning Hosiery Mill and operated it until his death. (It is very unusual to find the same businessman operating both a lumber mill and a textile mill.) He was also mayor of Manning for 4 years and served the town in other capacities for a number of years. He died in 1912 at the age of 58.
Ad from The Manning Boomerang.
Many thanks are due the Clarendon County Archives for sharing their information on W. Scott Harvin, as well as two of the illustrations included with this article. Their help was very instrumental in upgrading the value of my “cherry” from a $3.00 unattributed maverick to a $100.00 fully attributed lumber token. How sweet it is!!!!!!!!!!
Copyright 2005 by Tony Chibbaro.
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.
Token or Medal of the Month Main Page
A Short History of Token Use in South Carolina
South Carolina Trade Tokens for Sale - Page 1
South Carolina Trade Tokens for Sale - Page 2
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South Carolina Stereoviews
The Charleston Exposition
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