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M.A. Gunst store card or token

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I purchased the following maverick token at the Santa Clara Coin Show:




The dealer had it marked as San Francisco with a question mark. The piece is not listed in either of Kappen's catalogs. The maker's mark, MOISE S.F., is no guarantee the token is from San Francisco since Moise marked and and sold tokens throughout the American West and Central America. I bought the token on a whim because I liked the design, I like Moise tokens, and because it presented a challenge to identify.


As they say in Darwin, the task was "too easy." An internet search for MAG & Co. produced an import record for cigars by a MAG & Co. in San Francisco in 1898. The initials were correct, but still, how could I prove it was the same MAG? Next step was a city directory from 1897. I finally found a M.A. Gunst & Co. under cigar importers and jobbers. That convinced me the token and Gunst were one and the same. Gunst was in the news a fair bit because he served as a police commissioner and the unions hounded him because he imported "non-union made" cigars as well as employing non-union labor to make his own cigars. But, could I convince anyone else I was right?


Then I found a photograph of a building re-opening following the 1906 San Francisco earthquake with a banner announcing the re-opening of M.A.Gunst cigars. Still no solid proof, but now I've got the company in business from the late 1800s into the 1900s. The next picture clinched the deal. Look closely at the top of the window on the right side of the building's corner. You'll see the star logo.


I'm now satisfied I've identified the business and the situated the token firmly in San Francisco history. (The House of Staples refers to a brand of cigar they carried.)



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