Blackfoot, Idaho - $1.00 Merchandise Trade Token - State Hospital South

  • Country: United States
  • Period: Federal Republic (1776-Date)
  • Type: Merchandise Trade Token
  • Denomination: 1 Dollar
  • Composition: Aluminium
  • Diameter: 36mm
  • Edge: Smooth
  • Obverse: State Hospital South
  • Reverse: Good for $1.00 in Merchandise

First established by the Idaho Territorial Legislature, the Idaho Insane Asylum received its first patient in 1886 at Blackfoot, Idaho.

The 1905 State Legislature authorized a second mental hospital, State Hospital North, in Orofino. In 1931, the name of the Blackfoot institution was changed to State Hospital South, and both the North and South institutions continue to the present.

A set of tokens that includes 5¢, 10¢, 25¢, 50¢, and $1 round aluminum tokens were issued from one of these two institutions in Idaho. They were used from prior to 1950 to about 1965 in a manner somewhat analogous to prison tokens, but with one important difference. It seems that there were a number of unscrupulous attendants called "Buggers" who worked in mental institutions and would cheat the patients if they had a chance. Patients received money from friends and relatives or earned it from work in the hospital were required to deposit the cash in the business office; they were then issued tokens as needed. The hospital commissary sold candy, tobacco, and other items to both patients and staff, but tokens were only allowed for patient purchases and cash was the only medium of exchange for non-patients. The reason for using tokens and scrip in prisons is to prevent inmates from bribing staff.

Idaho's State Hospital North is a much smaller facility and reportedly had never used tokens.

*Token condition is based on our professional opinion. Pictures are representative of the token that you will receive, actual token may differ slightly, and serial numbers will vary*

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