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by Jerry Adams   copyright 1998

I came across an interesting mention of the early use of a cardboard token, in a reprint of the old Fort Worth Democrat newspaper. The year was 1887:

"A prominent member of one of the leading churches stepped into the Fort Worth Democrat to pay for his daily paper. Of course change was scarce. In point of fact, it is the scarcest commodity about a printing office at all seasons of the year.

After fumbling through his vest pocket a little, he pulled out a neat red card, bearing the following inscription:

Good for

ONE DRINK

at the

RED LIGHT

He endeavored to explain how he came into possession of this piece of pasteboard, but we hadn’t time to hear him through. We Just adjourned to the Tivoli and took a glass of beer."

The writer of the above piece, failed to mention if the token was round or rectangular, but I suspect it was round. Had he known that 110 years later, someone would be interested in such details, I am sure he would have been surprised.

The Red Light and Tivoli Hall were names of saloons in Ft. Worth from about 1876 up through the turn of the century. So this short newspaper article tells me several things:

1. There was a maverick red cardboard token issued by the Red Light Saloon in Ft. Worth, Texas in 1887.

2. The article implies that (at least some of the time) saloons accepted other saloon’s tokens for payment of drinks.

 

Another mention of the Red Light Saloon in Fort Worth, Texas, comes from the Fort Worth Democrat newspaper of April 10, 1878:

The Cow Boys' Tear.

They Raise Merry Cain at the Waco Tap.

Thirty or Forty Shots Fired. and Nobody Hurt.

A Dozen or more of the festive cow boys, imbued with the spirit of pure devilishment, mounted their horses, and as is their custom, visited the several dance houses, caroused and danced withe the "girls," drank when they felt so disposed, and continued their career without much trouble until round about 1 o'clock, when they all congregated at the Red Light, and after mounting their horses, each drew his six-shooter, and blazing away in the air, fired twenty or thirty shots, at the same time putting spurs to their horses, they made tracks for the depot.

 

References: In Old Fort Worth by the News-Tribune, 1977.

 

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updated : 5 feb 2000