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What are brothel tokens and how were they used?

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2011-09-13 18:05:00
2011-09-13 18:05:00

Brothels tokens are metallic discs similar to coins, minted mostly in brass or bronze. Most of the original pieces were used in French brothels from 1900 to 1920. Some of the French brothels are: Les Belles Poules, Mignon, Les Glaces, Les Faunes. The French tokens are solid metal or metal sandwiched with cardboard ("shellcard"). They show in the obverse side the name and address of the brothel and in the reverse side a rooster, angel or a woman. The rooster and angel designs are imitation of current french gold coins. Most tokens were used as advertisement for the brothels. Those with a face value were used as currency for the brothel bar. Similar tokens were used in Belgium, Spain and Switzerand. The size is similar to a United States nickel.

We known some genuine brothels tokens used in Argentina. One of them used by The Petit Trianon brothel located in Rosario Argentina.One very rare token was used in the brothel El Farol Colorado on the Uruguay and Argentina frontier. Some pieces probably used on Colombia and Cuba. One very rare piece is known from Algeria and the design in the reverse is a cat head. The name of the brothel was the black cat in french "Le chat noir".

In Mexico, some of the cantinas or brothels located in the frontier border of the United States used genuine tokens. Some of them show the design of a naked woman.

In the United States, coin dealers sell the so called brothels tokens. They are fantasies made mostly in the 1960's to 1980's. They are brass discs of about the size of a siver dollar with the name of the brothel, city and other legends incuse. Most of them have the inscription SCREW, LADIES FOR YOUR PLEASURE. Others types are rectangular or odd shape and have XIX century dates. They are known more than one hundred of those fantasies never used as token by brothels in the United Staes. A company manufacture actually those tokens to any person interested with the specifications the client sent.

Some collectors included in the brothels tokens some oriental pieces similar to Chinese old coins. They show in one side Chinese characters and in the other some couples in different sexual positions. Those pieces probably used as love or fertilty amulets instead as brothel pass. Some of the pieces look old but most of them probably made recently.

In recent years, some brothels in Nevada in United Staes, made a tokens similar to the casino tokens most of them with photos of beautiful nude women. These are promotional pieces selling in the brotel. Actually, some of the brothels minted beautiful tokens of about the size of a siver dollar in sterling. Their use probably is as advertisement.

Genuine brothels tokens are rare or very rare pieces. The most common are some french pieces that can obtain between the $15.00 to $40.00 range. Last year, I sold my collection of 25 genuine brothels pieces in Ebay for $3,200. Was bought by two collectors in the United States. I obtained a bid profit because I paid about $500.00 for all the pieces. I begnning the auction at very low prices and sold in higher prices. For example, a plastic token used in Mexico for pay drinks to the prostitutes I acquired about five years ago in $15.00. I listed in the same price and was sold in $315.00 for a profit of $300.00.

Probably this information can be useful. Any person interested to communicate with the author please write to: luisantoniorodvaz@hotmail.com or Luis Antonio Rodríguez. P.O. Box 334434, Ponce, Puerto Rico, 00733-4434.

Luis Antonio Rodríguez Vázquez

Numismatic and collector

Author of several books and booklets of Puerto

Rico numismatic.

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