On or about the year of 1879 the Champion Compress & Warehouse Company was incorporated in the city of Wilmington, North Carolina. An economic powerhouse, the company quickly attained a dominant role in the exportation of cotton crops grown and cultivated in the southern United States.
The corporation was owned and operated by the industrious Sprunt family, and ownership was passed progressively on generations of Sprunt family sons.
Over years, the family amassed great wealth in the ownership of the company.
As the company evolved, it established itself as a powerful force in the State of North Carolina.
The company and its properties acted as the final terminus for a large percentage of cotton grown in the Carolinas to be shipped elsewhere.
Its presence on Wilmington’s cityscape was quite dominant. The company’s facilities occupied one of only seven wharves in the city, and its frontage on the Cape Fear River extended 600 feet, with three slips and two monstrous piers. Each pier was about 100 feet wide, with the first being 350 feet long, and the other 425 feet.
As cotton was delivered by freight over the Atlantic Coast Line and Seaboard Air Line Railroads, bales were unloaded, compressed by one of three gigantic cotton compressors, and then stored until ready for shipment in three large warehouses.
Below is a Champion Compress & Warehouse Company cotton token. As bales of cotton were unloaded and processed, these tokens were issued to workers to account for the quantity of work performed. Not dissimilar to picker checks, many of these tokens were holed purposely so workers could string them as they were earned.
The token to be approximately Very Fine Details in grade. It was photographed using axial lighting with glass angled at 45 degrees.
Notes and Sources
Wilmington Chamber of Commerce (N.C.), Wilmington, N.C.: W. L. De Rosset, 1902
Ports of the United States, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1916, pgs. 203, 205
New Hanover County Public Library Digital Archives
The Library of Congress Digital Archives