On the Wings of Teddy Bears..
Ballie Bear Tokens
Token Talks by Duff Malkin
We are not exactly sure how Ballie Bear fits into the arcade nature of this bear token. It is clear that on the token the bear is carrying a tray of food and is wearing a bib with “B&B” on it, yet none of the institutions (i.e. arcades or video rooms) it has been found in have any connection to serving food. There is no trademark registration in Canada for “Ballie Bear” In the beginning, after these kept getting found in the token box of Chantou and in the horde of Jim Richardson’s and other places, we had a rough idea that they were being issued somewhere nearby and that the earliest ones were struck in copper (like the Famous Player ones of the same time)
Eventually a Google search lead to a Ballie Bear Arcade in Parker Place (the second oldest Asian Mall in Richmond – being about 20 years old) at 4380 Number 3 Road where, at last checking it still was (although it was not using tokens) and some tokens were found. Then it was found that the tokens were also being used in other nearby Richmond arcades associated with Chinese Canadian markets and it also was found that other somewhat smaller Ballie Bear tokens were being used in the Landsdowne Centre (not the Mall) and some were being given away as skill prizes by one or two local merchants who had some machines. In one Richmond case of a place found where Ballie Bear tokens were used there were large signs concerning how gambling on the games was strictly prohibited. It would seem that it evidently had been done.
Like some other local arcade tokens the (Famous Players) the first tokens issued were copper ones. All the later ones were brass. There are some tokens (Topfull and Red Hat) which have been discovered in quantity here which have reverses that are similar to this token) which have not yet been proven to circulate in BC. There may be or may have been some arcade which was mostly frequented by some Asian Canadians that we just did not hear of. As well various Asian arcade machines have come here perhaps with their tokens too (especially Japanese pachislot machines. So when I see some round item… There was a Topfull (HK) Ltd incorporated in Hong Kong in 1992, which has since been dissolved.
The latest token issue was one with what is called a “pebbled” background. This background is fairly common on game tokens of Hong Kong and Japan and it makes some sense because on it nicks and scratches do not show up as much as they would if the background was not pebbled. Arcade tokens take much abuse. They are minted and fall in together. They are dropped out of a token machine in groups of at least four. Then they are put in pockets. Then they are dropped into machines. Then the person takes them out of the machines and puts them into a bag to carry around for a bit. It does not take long for scratches to accumulate and for the luster to wear off.
The arcade owner may sometimes apply paint to their tokens. This may be for the reason of determining problem machines (like in the case of white metal tokens) or as a means of determining how many tokens being used in an operators area were issued by the operator or any specific operator survey that the operator may choose to make. Of course this makes for varieties. Everyone has seen the occasional painted quarter? Well that is why they are painted – somebody in an arcade or washing place wants to keep track of the other coins coming in.
So what did the arcade owners think of all the tokens ending up at Chantou and elsewhere (including in the hands of token collectors)? Well they just thought it was money in their pockets. But I still have not found out why Ballie Bear is there.
It might be because someone misspelled “baillie bear” which is a name for a teddy bear doll. However, none of the Baillie Bears seen have wings on them. There are some teddy bears which have wings for arms but not wings and arms both.
Looking things up the tokens may have been used at the DekaPri Photo Stickers and Arcade Gaming Shop – I do not recall seeing Ballie Bear advertising or promotion, which has been open in the Parker Place mall since 1990. There were photo booths. Room number 1420. It has been closed and a Facebook link states that “we have now moved our machines to . Please continue to support us there. E Spot Billiards and Arcade – http://goo.gl/maps/OF7fp “