|Three shilling token for the Ladies Restaurant|
and Ice Cream Saloon
Location: 8th Avenue, New York, New York, USA
Opened/Closed: Nineteenth Century
As we have discussed here before, many nineteenth-century eating and drinking establishments barred women, especially women who were not escorted by men. These policies persisted in some cases clear up until the 1970s.
As a result, some enterprising businessmen established dining rooms, cafe's, and restaurants where ladies who were not in the company of men could enjoy a noonday meal, a spot of tea, or something sweet. (Note, however, that men were NOT barred from such places, and even had a tendency to take them over. See this complaint from a woman in the New York Times in 1885.)
The Ladies Restaurant and Ice Cream Saloon was one of the places where ladies could go and partake of some light refreshments. The only reason we know of this place is that they once issued "tokens" to promote their business and solicit customers, and that some of those tokens have survived. The particular token illustrated above was for 3 shillings.
According to the American Numismatic Society, "Tokens and notes for restaurants, bars and hotels were common in the 19th century. The bars were meeting places that often offered musical and theatrical entertainment. The prices for lunches vary between 1 and 5 shillings."