I originally thought that this was from WWII, but after a bit of research I discovered that I was off by a war. These half-dollar sized coins were created by the Treasury Department as a little gesture of thanks to individuals that were Liberty Loan workers during WWI. The Liberty Loans were basically U.S. bonds that individuals bought to help the Government pay for the war without incurring any further debt (a rather novel concept in today’s world). I found an article from the April 14, 1919 issue of “Greater New York - Bulletin of the Merchant’s Association of New York” (Volume 8, No. 15, p. 24) describing these Victory Liberty Loan medals. In the article it mentions that the metal used came from cannon captured by U.S. troops during the Battle of Château-Thierry, which was part of the Second Battle of the Marne. I’m sure these little tokens were appreciated by many that did what they could during the war the end to all wars. At least I know it meant enough to someone in my family that it has managed to be passed down through the years.
Paulina Street is where my Grandmother and Grandfather lived while growing up in Chicago. So having a token from an establishment on that block isn’t that surprising. Unfortunately, not only is the Old Village Inn gone, the building has disappeared as well.
I tried looking up info on the Chicago History Museum’s web site and found nothing (including the Encyclopedia of Chicago which brought back way too many entries to try and weed through). If I was still in Chicago I could try searching old city directories for a possible lead, but since I’m not I’m limited to the internet. I then hit the archives for the Chicago Tribune. I came up with some leads on articles with titles about some banquets. Since I don’t want to pay the Trib to read these pieces, I’m going to assume that the dinner mentioned was taking place at the Old Village Inn. (The best title was a 1953 article: “Women of Moose Group to hold benefit dinner.”) This would make sense since the now empty lot is a pretty good size and could have easily held an old fashioned banquet hall.
The last remaining question (besides why did they keep this token) is what could you have gotten for 25 cents in trade?