Louisiana Mardi Gras Good For Tokens
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New Orleans Mardi Gras
The celebration of Mardi Gras or "fat tuesday" came to Louisiana from Paris, where it had been celebrated since the middle ages. In the early 19th century, the public celebration of Mardi Gras consisted mainly of maskers on foot, in carriages and on horseback. Violent behavior during the mid 1800's called for an end to Mardi Gras.
However a group of New Orleanians saved the New Orleans Mardi Gras by forming the Comus organization in 1857. They beautified the celebration and proved that it could be enjoyed in a safe and festive manner. Comus coined the word "krewe", presenting a themed parade with floats and costumed maskers, and staging balls.
A new century brought some difficult years. World War 1 canceled Mardi Gras in 1918-1919, struggled during Prohibition and the Great Depression of the 1930's. The fifties and sixties were characterized by turbulence and change but Mardi Gras survived.
The Mardi Gras Doubloon
Mardi Gras Doubloons are aluminum coin like objects bearing the krewe's insignia on one side and the parade's theme on the reverse. They were first introduced by the Krewe "Rex" in 1960 and created by New Orleans artist Alvin Sharpe. Doubloons are also minted in .999 silver and bronze.
Pat O'Brien's New Orleans, LA
1966 First Year of Issue
The Mardi Gras "Good For" Doubloon
To entice customers to visit their store, some New Orleans merchants distributed doubloons that were good for merchandise before and after but not on Mardi Gras day. This tradition dates back to the 1920's when Harry Hyman, a New Orleans tailor, would throw his tokens into Mardi Gras crowds. Perhaps inspiring the now-popular doubloons in 1960. Many New Orleans area businesses continue this tradition today.
The early Mardi Gras "Good For" doubloons were issued by Pat O'Brien's in 1966. Popeye's in the mid 1970's and Pizza Hut in 1985 followed by Straya Cafe and Copeland's in the 1990's. Coca Cola issued some very interesting pieces in 1988 and 1989.