Another installment in a weekly series looking at items of local interest selling on eBay.
A trade token from the Boundary ghost town of Phoenix sold for $131 US last week.
The brass token issued by the Royal Billiard Parlor was good for 6¼ cents in trade.
According to Leslie C. Hill’s token bible, British Columbia Numismatica, fewer than 10 examples of this token were known to exist as of 1980. (Two slightly different variations exist.)
However, there may be more out there, for three others turned up on eBay in the space of five months in 2006. The first was listed for $222 but didn’t sell. It found a buyer once the price was lowered to $199.
Two others subsequently sold for the relative bargain prices of $51 and $50.
In his comprehensive 1993 book, The Tokens of Greenwood and Phoenix, British Columbia, Ron Greene writes the tokens likely dated to between 1900 and 1906.
Bob Karatofsky established the Royal Billiard Parlor in Greenwood in early 1900, having previously run a similar business in Fort Steele.
In November of the same year, he moved up the hill to Phoenix. In addition to pool tables, he offered tobacco and confections, and in 1905, added a bowling alley.
Karatofsky sold to Cosgrove and McAstocker in 1907 and left for Seattle to become a jeweller. Royal Billiards was listed in the BC civic directories through 1919, at which point Phoenix began its death spiral as a viable community when the Granby company ceased copper mining operations.
• A token from Trail’s golden jubilee of 1951 sold for $20 US, despite having a drilled hole in it.
One side showed the smelter smokestacks and read “Silver City Trail BC/1951” and the reverse “Trail Golden Jubilee/50 Anniversary/1901-1951.”
It’s the first such token to appear on eBay, although many from the city’s 1976 celebration have sold before.
This story will appear in the West Kootenay Advertiser on May 24.