HUDSON'S BAY COMPANY FUR TRADE TOKENS
The early development and exploration of Canada was based largely on the fur trade, and this trade was dominated for over 250 years by the Hudson’s Bay Company. HBC established outposts to purchase pelts, and supplied goods such as Blankets (similar to the modern HBC trademark blankets), knives, kettles, beads, needles and alcohol in trade. The currency HBC created to use in these outposts was a series of aluminum tokens, all of which are very scarce and highly collectible today.
This token was introduced in 1946, and circulated through to about 1961. It survives today as one of the final remnants of the fur trading era, and is the highest denomination issued in the only series of tokens issued in the decimal system rather than in “made beavers” or beaver pelts. While most surviving tokens from this era are in well used worn condition, this high quality token is in “extremely fine” condition. An information page about the Hudson’s Bay fur trade tokens is included with this item.
About Fur Trade Currency
HBC developed a brilliant and efficient system of trade that would eventually lead to the development of the modern department store. The main currency of trade was the beaver pelt “made beaver”, with values of other items being calculated in the number of beaver pelts that could be traded for them. It was not efficient to simply trade pelts for the company’s goods. Instead, HBC created “money” calculated in beaver pelts that could be redeemed at any time for goods available in the outposts. If a trapper brought in 100 beaver pelts, they would be given tokens valued at 100 beaver pelts, which could then be spent in the outpost stores. This allowed for payment to traders in remote areas, and greatly simplified commerce, forming a near perfect transition from barter to the use of modern money.
Most of the tokens used in the fur trade were made of aluminum, which when introduced was a scarce and relatively valuable metal. Initial denominations were in ‘made beavers”, with later denominations being converted into a decimal system on par with the currency of the new country of Canada.
Some of the last tokens issued by the Hudson’s Bay Company in the “made beaver” denominations were for the Labrador District issued in 1919 and used through to 1941. 20 Made Beavers is the highest denomination, and the scarcest denomination of this issue. The final HBC fur trade tokens were issued in 1946, consisting of decimal denominations of 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100. With limited remaining remote outposts, a relatively small number of these tokens were issued. All of the Hudson’s Bay tokens today are extremely scarce and highly collectible. Because they were used in remote areas for many years, most are well used, and are seldom seen above “extremely fine” condition.