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Home >> From 1867 to Present Day >> Economics & Resources >> Artifacts

The growth and success of the fur trade depended on the men and women of the First Nations and Métis Nation, while the competition between the HBC and the Northwest Company would forge a new era.

Image 1 | Image 2
Creator: England
Year made: Late 19th Century
Dimensions: 2.9 cm to 1.9 cm in diameter
Location: The Manitoba Museum; Artifact HBC 1989 A-D
Copyright Holder: The Manitoba Museum

(M9) HBC Trade Tokens

A set of four brass Hudson’s Bay Company trade tokens. One side features the company’s corporate crest. The reverse side indicates the denominations or values of the tokens, along with the letters “M.M.” that stand for the East Main trading district.

The letters “N.B.” also occur on the reverse side. There was an error made when these tokens were cast and the letters should have actually read “M.B.” for “Made Beaver.”

Other Related Material
Learn more about the value of furs - enter 'furs' in the search box to your left.

See a typical trading post.

Check the Beaver Index - e.g., Medals and Tokens, by Larry Gingras, Summer 1968.

Did You Know?
The standard of value against which all furs, provisions and trade goods was measured was “One Made Beaver” (1 MB) of a prime male beaver pelt. Trade was conducted between Aboriginal traders and Company employees through a system of barter (goods in exchange for goods) where no money was used.

Instead, European traders used “counters” to keep track of the value of each item traded. The counters were not distributed like money, but rather, remained at the post for the sole use of the European trader. In the early years, some posts used wooden sticks that were carved with the number “1” to indicate 1 MB.

Brass tokens were introduced in the late 1800s by George Simpson McTavish Sr. in denominations of 1,1/2,1/4, and 1/8 MB for use in the East Main River district located south and east of Hudson Bay.