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  • Attribution of Maverick Trade Tokens

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    The identification of maverick (i.e., tokens without city and state indicated) is one of the more difficult and controversial aspects of cataloging tokens.

    Often the attribution will create much discussion as to whether the token has been attributed to the correct town or even if it is from Louisiana.

    Frequently a published attribution will become "gospel" in the token collecting community and difficult to rectify if later proven inaccurate.

    Great attempts were made to minimize the incidence of poorly verified attributions in the 2nd edition of Louisiana Trade Tokens, but some listings will invariably be proven to be in error. The primary means used to locate mavericks are old telephone books, business directories, city directories, and "Credit Rating Guides" such as those published by R. G. Dun & Company.

    Other references utilized are plantation guides, lumber directories, and various regional historical books. In addition, interviews were conducted with local historians, life-long residents, and the families of the token issuers.

    Consideration must also be given to the uniqueness of the name, the location in which the token was found, and the diework of the token, among other factors. However, use of these references cannot ensure a 100% accurate location. An individual could have operated in Louisiana for a few years and elsewhere for a while, only issuing tokens at the other location.

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    One other difficulty encountered with using directories is in determining exactly under which locale the token should be listed. Some directories will include every community with a name, while others will list only under the post office or railroad station serving the business.

    Other times, the merchant was located in an isolated area not near any community and the listing would variously appear under neighboring towns depending on the reference used. Often a community may have existed at the time the token was issued, but has since been absorbed into a nearby larger town. This is especially true near New Orleans. Frequently merchants who placed town names on their tokens would select a larger, nearby town.

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    Sometimes a combination of circumstantial factors will play a part in the determination of where to list a specific token. For example, a directory listing has not been found for "Our Friends Saloon" in New Orleans. However, the address (20 Exchange Alley) is unique to the Crescent City, the pool table reverse has only shown up on other tokens from the New Orleans area, every known example of the token was found in or near New Orleans, and Saloons were known to operate at the given address.

    In the 2nd edition, it was attempted to indicate the justification for attributing mavericks to a specific location. If no reason is shown with the listing, the reader may assume that the attribution is based on either directory listings or on verification from the issuer proper or their family.

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