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Bank Tokens

By Library and Archives Canada | Monday, March 29, 2004

Bank token, Montreal
Bank token, Montreal

Banks did more than simply issue paper money. In the 1830s, they began to import large numbers of tokens from England. The Bank of Montreal, for instance, imported both anonymous tokens and tokens stamped with its name. The Banque du Peuple also issued a 1-sou token in Montreal. It became known as the "rebellion sou," because the star and Phrygian cap (symbols of republicanism) that it bore were supposedly added by an employee sympathetic to the rebellions that broke out in 1837 in Lower Canada.

Bank of Montreal token
Bank of Montreal token

These bank tokens were used alongside merchants' tokens. Most of the latter were of poor quality. In the late 1830s, in order to impose some order on the issuing of tokens and to get rid of "junk" tokens, three banks in Montreal along with the Quebec Bank decided to participate in the issue of a new series of tokens. These tokens carried the image of a habitant on one side, and the coat of arms of the City of Montreal and the name of the issuing bank on the other. They were popularly known as "Papineaus."

Banque du Peuple, rebellion sou, 1837
Banque du Peuple, rebellion sou, 1837

Halfpenny, 1-sou token, Lower Canada, 1837
Halfpenny, 1-sou token, Lower Canada, 1837

This article represents a portion of the the article titled Currency Museum of the Bank of Canada

Source : Library and Archives Canada

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