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Canneries, especially in the seafood industry, found tokens to be a convenient way of denoting how much work had been done by a particular employee. As a worker completed a particular task (shelling a certain quantity of shrimp, for example) he took the container to the pay window and received a token.
At the end of the shift the worker would exchange the tokens for the corresponding amount of cash, determined by the going rate for the duties performed. Some Seafood Packing Houses also used tokens to denote the amount of catch delivered to the factory. These methods were advantageous since they eliminated the necessity to handle cash and to make change. Some canning companies also had their own commissary and would advance the employees merchandise tokens in much the same manner as the plantation commissary.
Robinson Canning Co. – Westwego, LA
William Robinson entered the seafood canning business in 1927 and formed Robinson Canning Company in 1930 or 1931. The cannery had a capacity of sixty thousand pounds (shrimp, oysters, and crabmeat) a day and produced Salad Brand Shrimp. Other brands packed include Nola, Jefferson, and Robinson. In the crabmeat operation, the meat was hand-picked and weighed. Tokens were given for each ounce, and when sixteen were accumulated, a laminated card issued to the employee would receive a “pound punch.” The shrimp tokens were used at the point of delivery of the catch. Each token represented 105 pounds of fresh, raw, heads-on shrimp at a value per barrel established at the time of purchase. The tokens would be redeemed at the office. No tokens are known from the oyster operation. The company remains in business.
Jumbo Shrimp Co. – Cameron and Morgan City, LA
The Jumbo Shrimp Company was in operation in Cameron from 1940 to 1948. Martin Tower ran this branch, while his father, F. P., managed the plant in Morgan City.
Lopez, Dunbar’s Sons & Co. – Located in LA and MS
Lopez and DuKate, based in Biloxi, Mississippi, operated the Neptune Canning Company in Neptune, LA from 1901 to 1908. It is possible that they used these tokens here as well as those of their subsidiary, Neptune Canning Company.
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