Token (numismatics)

From Academic Kids

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New York City subway token

In the study of numismatics tokens are coin-like objects used instead of coins. The field of tokens is part of exonumia. Tokens are used in place of coins and either have a denomination shown or implied by size or shape. They are made of cheaper materials than the precious metals: aluminum and brass were often used.

Tokens have been used for centuries when governments did not issue enough small denomination coins for ciculation; for control; for discounts (pay in advance, get something free or discounted); or for other reasons. In the United States, a well-known type is the Wooden Nickel, a five-cent piece distributed by cities to raise money for their anniversaries in the 1940's to 1960's.

Local firms, such as saloons and mercantiles, would issue their own tokens as well, spendable only in their own shops. Railroads used Transportation Tokens for years, to sell rides in advance at a discount (for example, pay for 10 and get 11 rides). Many transport organizations still offer their own tokens for bus and subway services, or for toll bridges, tunnels, and highways.

Churches used to give tokens to members passing a religious test prior to the day of communion, then required the token for entry. While mostly Scottish Protestant, some US churches used communion tokens. Generally these were pewter, often cast by the minister in church-owned molds. Several books on the subject exist. Replicas of these tokens have been made available for sale at some churches recently.

The study of tokens used in a town, state or region can be a life-long endeavor, and is where a lot of the serious study of history occurs in numismatics.

See also

External links

References

  • "Church Tokens", New York Times, April 11, 1993
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