Friday, March 14, 2014

Where the Customer Comes First

The title of this post comes from one side of a brothel token I saw online. I burst out laughing.

When fellow author, Wendy Ely, posted on Facebook pictures of brothel tokens she had picked up in Jerome, AZ, I had to know more. And, I had to have some. Do you know Amazon sells brothel tokens? Amazing, aren’t they? They make an interesting addition to my guest bathroom. Reading material, you know.

Well, to clarify, I don’t have real brothel tokens. Those cost hundreds of dollars. DH would not spring for them! (But I wonder if a request for real ones could be on my Christmas List? Hmmm.)

My Amazon brothel tokens are replicas of the real thing (maybe) referred to in the collecting trade as “fantasy” or “reproduction” (interesting word there, eh?) brothel tokens. I briefly toyed with having Carrie (from STREETWALKER) use tokens instead of the paper trail their bordello creates by billing customers, but I'm not sure how that would help. They're in trouble with the law no matter what.

The research into brothel tokens was fascinating. Brothel tokens go back to Roman times. Or maybe they were just used for gaming (Though why would they have sex acts depicted on them?). Maybe they were both.

I came across one well-researched blog, but mostly I pieced together what I learned from reading about brothel tokens on some websites selling them and a few other places. The information accuracy might be iffy. I listed some of these at the end. Go take a peek.

Many of the tokens were valued at a bit--12 ½ cents (8 bits makes a dollar). A drink usually cost one bit. Or one “encounter” with a woman.

To summarize a lot of stuff, old west tokens came about to solve a couple of problems. Legal-tender money was in short supply in isolated areas of the western mining towns. One article speculated business owners came up with the tokens as an alternative way to pay. I guess the Bitcoin phenomenon might be comparable today.

Another problem tokens solved was the madam of an establishment getting paid. The customer bought the tokens and used them to pay the selected “lady of the night”. This ensured the madam got paid, and if the customer left more, that belonged to his partner. That way the girls couldn’t secrete money from the madam. They’d turn their collected tokens in maybe once a week to be re-sold.

All in all, this was fascinating. I have to do more reading on the topic. Brothel tokens are an entire area of history I was unaware of.

Read more about brothel tokens:

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