Alaska TooWah Five Stars Reverse
Alaska TooWah Seven Stars Reverse
Alaska TooWah tokens are dated 1862 on the obverse and 1910 on the reverse.
There are two major types, with either five or seven stars on the reverse. The seven stars type is rarer and trades at a significant premium.
Nathan Joseph (1832-1924) was the designer and initial issuer of the Alaska TooWah tokens. Joseph was the youngest of the three Joseph brothers, English immigrants who issued California fractional gold tokens along with a coveted San Francisco storecard. Josephus and Lionel Joseph eventually returned to England, but Nathan remained in San Francisco.
By 1910, Nathan Joseph was 77 years old but remained active, despite the loss of his shop during the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and subsequent fire. Joseph also endured burglaries and other setbacks. An information-packed article on Joseph is available on the internet, written by John N. Lupia III.
Joseph secured U.S. Design Patent #41,023 for his TooWah tokens. The reverse legends refer to the patent.
Circa-1910, Joseph issued a very rare advertising letter promoting his token varieties. The letter confirms that the reverse design includes two walrus tusks, and a sleigh drawn by two dogs. Too Wah is apparently Eskimo for "two ivories." The "R.D. 1910" legend may refer to the design patent registration date.
Noted small diameter private gold numismatist Jay Roe discusses the Alaska TooWah token in a September 1990 issue of the Brasher Bulletin, organ of the Society of Private and Pioneer Numismatists.
In the article The Coin That Never Was, published in the July 2014 issue of the Brasher Bulletin, Mike Locke states that American-Pacific Stamp Company may have struck Nathan Joseph's tokens.
Thomas Elder auction appearance for an Alaska TooWah token was lot 517 on
June 23, 1914.