1938 Wooden Nickels
1638 -- Hampton Tercentenary -- 1938
(Courtesy Town of Hampton
and John & Connie Holman, Hampton, NH -- 2001)
Wooden Money Is Circulating Freely
In Local Territory
Hampton Union, Thursday, August 25, 1938
It may not be legal tender but wooden money is circulating on the beach in considerable quantity. Although the more recent adage has been "don't take any wooden money" going back to the days when both Salisbury and Hampton were young, the adage was "do not take wooden money without leave."
Edward Eaton, prominent citizen of Salisbury as well as druggist of Newburyport who has probably made a more careful study of the history of Salisbury and adjacent places than anyone else has brought out the fact that the early settlers of these town having very little ready money found that they could easily supply that lack by using wood.
With great foresight, the first settlers of both Salisbury and Hampton set apart a large section of woodland for common use but only by consent of the selectmen and then on a basis of equality. There was a great demand for barrel staves and certain other forms of roughly cut wood to be shipped to the West Indies and other southern ports and this was almost as good as ready money. Because some settlers had a tendency to cut more than their share of this standing wood in their eagerness to get money, it became necessary for the towns to supervise the cutting of these staves and for the pastor on the Sabbath Day to again and again enjoin his congregation not to take any wooden money without permission.
Human nature, alas, does snot always live up to precept and the annals of both Salisbury and Hampton show that from time to time some of the towns people had to be penalized for too frequent inroads into the common woodlot by imposing a fine equal to the amount they had thus earned. Probably Mr. Eaton has the names of some of those thus inadvertently working for the town but it would serve no useful purpose to publish them now.