Here are some excerpts from e-mails I received from John Mutch which detail the history of Allen Rapins partnership in the Weiser News Company of Weiser, Idaho.
"I am a collector of Idaho trade tokens and am researching for a book that will catalog them and provide a small historical sketch of the businesses and individuals who used them as part of their operation. If you are not familiar with trade tokens, they were widely used in the first half of the 1900s, but they have been in use (in Idaho) from about 1865 to the present. They were used in lieu of coins - a general store might buy butter and eggs from farmers and pay them either in tokens or at a discount in cash. The farmer would then use the tokens at a later time to buy staple goods from the store. Cigar stores often had a card game going where the tokens were used in gambling instead of poker chips or cash to avoid the laws. Also, good cigars were priced at "two for a quarter" or 15 cents each, so a customer might pay a quarter and get one cigar for now, and a token good for a cigar (or 12 - 1/2 cents) that could be spent later.
One of the tokens I am researching says HALL & RAPIN on the front and GOOD FOR 5 CENTS IN TRADE on the back. I can e-mail you a photo of it if you'd like. My research shows a listing in an 1918 business directory of Rapin & Hall - cigars and billiards in Weiser, ID, so I am pretty certain that this is where the token originated. I found in the WWI Draft registration that Allen Peter RAPIN, born 17 Aug 1878, registered in Washington County, ID (Weiser is the county seat). I could not find him in the 1920 census and have not looked at the 1910 one, but I did see him as proprietor of a cigar store in Roseburg, OR. I then went to your web page on the family - nicely done, by the way - and figured out how to contact you.
What I would like to find is the name of his HALL partner, and the years he was in business in Weiser. I do have some notes on business licenses I made while at the county courthouse in Weiser last year, but they are buried in my pile of notes, so I may be able to find more from them. But if you know more about his Weiser cigar store, I'd sure like to hear from you. I will keep you posted if I find any more.
THE HALL & RAPIN TOKEN
"It is made of brass - most tokens were either brass or aluminum. The little "T" - shaped mark at the top is a pick, the signature of the Albert Pick Company of Chicago, the makers of the token."
"The 1912-13 and 1916 Polk's Idaho State Gazetteers list the partnership of Rapin & Mortimer (Allen P. Rapin & Frank Mortimer) - news in Weiser. Mortimer was a well-known and well-documented owner of a newsstand in Weiser. He started the "Oregon Trail Park" on Mortimer's Island where the Weiser River flows into the Snake River. It was a favorite spot with merry-go-round, dance pavilion, etc. and was a place for public celebrations that was known throughout the region.
Mortimer's newsstand should be pictured somewhere - there is an interior shot of it in the little Weiser history book I have. The section about Mortimer's Island does not mention your Grandfather - evidently their partnership broke up between 1916 and 1918 when Hall entered the picture."
The Weiser News Company
Allen Rapin in doorway of his cigar store
343 State Street - Weiser, Idaho
After doing a little research on the web I came up with a copy of the cover of the Sunset magazine hanging in the window with the date of
I had a few minutes at the library today and chose to look at the microfilmed Sanborn Fire Maps of Weiser, and have a better understanding of your picture now. I don't know whether you are familiar with the Sanborn maps, but they are quite detailed insurance maps that the Samborn company made for many towns every few years. Maps for 1908 and 1914 showed the newsstand attached to the Weiser Hotel which was on the corner of State and Commercial Streets, kitty corner from the Hotel Vendome. The door to the hotel lobby was on the corner of the building which would have been just a few feet to the left of this picture.
The photo was taken looking to the southwest, with State Street going to the right. I think this business was called the Weiser News Company - through the window above the fellow on the far right, you can see the letters EIS which I think are part of a sign on the back wall saying WEISER / NEWS / CO.
Mortimer was probably Rapin's partner in this business as I have directory information saying that the Weiser News Co. was at the corner of State and Commercial Streets. In fact, I read a news article about a robbery in the store where two guys came in, one distracting "Mortimer, one of the proprietors", while the other helped himself to $50 from the safe.
There is a 1928 Sanborn map that shows an extensive remodel of the area. This newsstand is gone and a larger one is built around the corner on the Commercial Street side. That is probably the "c. 1930" picture of Mortimer's stand in the Weiser history book I have.
That's all for now,
Well, I "struck gold" at the library today. I love it when things start to come together. First, I was scanning through the old newspapers and came upon this from the Weiser American 13 Jan 1916:
Rapin & Hall Enlarge The Crescent Pool Hall
Renovate Their Cigar Store and Put In Many Improvements Including More Pool Tables
F. E. Hall and A. P. Rapin, proprietors of the Crescent cigar store and pool hall, 343 State street, are busily engaged at the work of rehabilitating and enlarging the place.
A partition has been removed, new flooring and ceiling put in, wainscoating ordered and many physical improvements set under way. The card tables will occupy the rear of the room, additional pool and billiard tables put in, giving in all one billiard and three pool tables, and other changes made in the place so as to have of it, when completed, one of the most up-to-the-minute parlors in town. A railing will separate the pool tables from the card room.
It is expected that the improvements will have been completed by the first of the coming year.
That cleared up a couple of unknowns for me. First, I now know at least the initials of Hall. Second, I know the name and address of their business. I had been researching the Crescent for a long time as there are several varieties of tokens from there. Most of them have the initials "T. & T." on them as the owners for a long time were the Townley brothers. I suspect they bought the place from Hall & Rapin, as they owned a meat market in
1916. The place was still in business in the mid 1950s, by the way.
Then, as I was heading back to work, I thought to take a quick look through the photo file. There was a picture of the Hotel Weiser, and I was surprised to see that I had donated a copy of the picture to them myself! When I got home, I looked at my collection of Idaho picture postcards, and sure enough, there it was. I have scanned it so you can see how the picture you have relates to the hotel. The postcard photo is not too clear, but to the right of the corner door, under the balcony, is the newsstand. At least on the original, you can see the magazines hanging inside the windows. There is a guy standing in the newsstand door, but it would be impossible to tell if it was your Grandfather. The postmark date on the card is May 30, 1920, but the photo may have been taken years earlier.
Anyway, I am having a ball with this and thought you would enjoy hearing of it.
The Weiser Hotel
All information contained on this page appearing within quotation marks was provided in e-mails I received from John Mutch. His research is a great contribution to our family history. Thank you!
If you would like to contact John Mutch for more information on trade tokens click here -->
to e-mail John Mutch