Posted: 12th March 2021
The story of the Co-operative Society as a whole has been the subject of many books and articles and it is not proposed to outline its history here except in relationship to the tokens held within the Hull Museums Collection.
The Hull Co-operative Society was formed in 1890 opening for business at 201 Hessle Road and 11 Wilton Terrace, Holderness Road, Hull. In the early 20th century the Hull Society branched out with new business ventures including operating a co-operative diary in 1915.
Hull later amalgamated with smaller co-operative societies of Beverley and Pocklington to form the Hull and East Riding Co-operative Society in 1963. This operated until 1981 where it became part of the Co-operative Retail Services.
A typical co-operative token was a circular piece of thin metal with later versions being produced in aluminium and finally plastic. Eventually tokens were replaced by a paper system. The design was standardised with a denomination and the name of the Co-operative Society to ensure its members did not shop in other co-operative branches.
These tokens were used as a form of a dividend check for members and even in the exchange of loans for its members. However, the most common use was as a form of prepayment, a delivery system of essential groceries and supplies for Co-operative societies’ members.
The tokens shown here would have be used as a form of prepayment for basic groceries such as milk, bread or coal etc. The tokens could be pre-bought by the customer at the cooperative society store and would have been left out on the doorstep for the delivery person for payment – this was much easier and quicker for both than if money was exchanged and change given.
These series of blogs could not have been created without the grateful help and knowledge of Paul Gibson, Hull History Centre, Paul and Bente Withers and James O’Donald Mays.
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