Exonumia

Last updated
Assorted exonumia, including a poker chip and an elongated coin Exonumia.jpg
Assorted exonumia, including a poker chip and an elongated coin

Exonumia are numismatic items (such as tokens, medals, or scrip) other than coins and paper money. This includes "Good For" tokens, badges, counterstamped coins, elongated coins, encased coins, souvenir medallions, tags, wooden nickels and other similar items. It is related to numismatics (concerned with coins which have been legal tender), and many coin collectors are also exonumists.

Contents

Besides the above strict definition, others extend it to include non-coins which may or may not be legal tenders such as cheques, credit cards and similar paper. These can also be considered notaphily or scripophily.

Etymology

The noun exonumia is derived from two classical roots: exo, meaning "out-of" in Greek, and nummus , meaning "coin" in Latin (from Greek νοῦμμος – noummos, "coin"); thus, "out[side]-of-[the category]coins". Usually, the term "exonumia" is applied to these objects in the United States, while the equivalent British term is paranumismatica .

The words exonumist and exonumia were coined in July 1960 by Russell Rulau, a recognized authority and author on the subject, and accepted by Webster's dictionary in 1965.

Forms of exonumia: tokens and medals

Many exonumia items were used as currency in the United States when actual money was not easily available in the economy. A notable exception to this definition are medals, which were generally not used as currency or exchange. See the "for clarification" section below for distinctions between various branches of exonumia. Tokens were used both to advertise and to facilitate commerce.

Token authority Russell Rulau offers a broad definition for exonumia, and lines between categories can be fuzzy. For example, an advertising token may also be considered a medal. Good For tokens may also advertise. Counter-stamped coins have been called "little billboards." Strictly, exonumia is anything not a governmental issue coin. This could almost mean anything coin-like.

The English term "Para-numismatica", or alongside currency, appears more limiting, hinting that tokens must have some sort of “value” or monetary usage. One definition of Para-numismatica is anything coin-like but not a coin. In America this is not the accepted usage. Rulau's 1040 page tome, UNITED STATES TOKENS: 1700–1900 includes many tokens without any monetary value depicted on the token. While he included many items, some types of exonumia were not included just so the book would not get any bigger.

The following groupings of categories are continually expanding. One way of parsing tokens is into these three general categories:

Typically, catalogs of tokens are organized by location, time period, and/or type of item. Historically, the need for tokens grew out of the need for currency. In America, some tokens legally circulated alongside or instead of currency up until recently. Hard Times Tokens and Civil War Tokens each were the size of the contemporary cent. Afterwards, value based items, such as Good for (amount of money), Good for One Quart of Milk, Good for One Beer, Good for One Ride… and others were specifically linked to commerce of the store or place of issue.

For clarity, exonumia are actual numismatic items (other than government coins or paper money) which can be studied or collected.

Numismatic = coins, paper money, exonumia (numismatist)
Exonumia = tokens, medals, badges, ribbons, etc. (exonumist)
Notaphily = paper money (notaphile/notaphiliac).
Scripophily = stock certificates (scripophilist, scripophilac)
Medals have a clear distinction from tokens in that there is no monetary value on the item, nor any intent to be used as money. (medalist)

Exonumists are attentive to not only the history behind the items but their shapes and what types of items they are.

Exonumia that is studied and collected

The following categories are typical. This is not all-inclusive but is a sampling of the wide variety of Exonumia:

Tokens

Modified/Augmented:

A Smokey Bear Geocoin Geocoin at Spier's.JPG
A Smokey Bear Geocoin

Play-Game money / Arcade Amusement / Novelty

Government Services & Non-National tools to Facilitate Commerce

Transportation Tokens

Closed Community / Membership

Obverse of a communion token from South Leith Parish Church South Leith communion token obverse.jpg
Obverse of a communion token from South Leith Parish Church

Unique material / shapes

Movements and ideals

Of a Personal nature – Personals

A Great Western Railway pay cheque Loco pay cheque - GWR.JPG
A Great Western Railway pay cheque

By Issuer or for a Specific Person

Modern items under the exonumia umbrella include:

Rulau in his 1700–1900 book historically breaks down American tokens into these general time periods:

Even though the following are legitimate categories for exonumia, they are not included in the 1700–1900 reference.

Typical ways exonumists may collect these items are by region, topic, type, shape or material. These different collecting preferences may change the ways tokens are documented. Frequently there are guides for particular states (by Region), but conversely the guide could document National or International amusement tokens (Type)

The general distinction between Tokens from Medals is that medals (both privately minted and minted by governments,) primarily do not have an actual monetary amount or 'value' but generally are a commemoration of people, ideals, or places.

Various organizations:

Other forms in Latin America

Copper trade token of Durfee & Peck, Indian traders on Missouri River in various locations, circa 1869 BIGBUFF.jpg
Copper trade token of Durfee & Peck, Indian traders on Missouri River in various locations, circa 1869

Another important area of token collecting is Latin American coffee or plantation tokens. Many but not all of these tokens were made in the United States while others were made in Europe and England. These tokens are circulated in more than one language although Spanish is the prevalent one. Plantation tokens can have an array of denominations and names. The name can be the owner or their relatives. Sometimes the token can have the name of the farm (or finca). Lastly, tokens had allegorical symbols to identify the owner. Very little documentation exists since the inception of Latin American tokens, therefore, many tokens cannot be verified as to who the real owner is or what the symbol or symbols meant.

Tokens in Latin America were used as currency since there was not enough official currency available. Customarily, workers could convert the tokens to official currency on Saturdays. It is widely understood that many plantation owners in Latin America had their own commissaries, therefore, the workers were able to use the farm owners tokens to pay for provisions. It is important to note that in the 19th century many of the plantation workers and families lived in the farm they worked on.

Latin American tokens were made in all types of base metals and alloys plus plastic, celluloid and bakelite. Unique to Costa Rica were tokens made in paper fashion, either uniface or printed on both sides. Many people call these paper chits. The word "Boleto" is used solely in Costa Rica for the word token whereas "ficha" is used in the rest of Latin America.

See also

Related Research Articles

Coin Small, flat and usually round piece of material used as money

A coin is a small, flat, round piece of metal or plastic used primarily as a medium of exchange or legal tender. They are standardized in weight, and produced in large quantities at a mint in order to facilitate trade. They are most often issued by a government. Coins often have images, numerals, or text on them. Obverse and its opposite, reverse, refer to the two flat faces of coins and medals. In this usage, obverse means the front face of the object and reverse means the back face. The obverse of a coin is commonly called heads, because it often depicts the head of a prominent person, and the reverse tails.

Numismatics is the study or collection of currency, including coins, tokens, paper money, medals and related objects.

Token may refer to:

Scrip Any substitute for legal tender or currency

A scrip is any substitute for legal tender. It is often a form of credit. Scrips have been created for exploitative payment of employees under truck systems, and for use in local commerce at times when regular currency was unavailable, for example in remote coal towns, military bases, ships on long voyages, or occupied countries in wartime. Besides company scrip, other forms of scrip include land scrip, vouchers, token coins such as subway tokens, IOUs, arcade tokens and tickets, and points on some credit cards.

Yugoslav dinar Currency of Yugoslavia

The dinar was the currency of the three Yugoslav states: the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia between 1918 and 2006. The dinar was subdivided into 100 para. In the early 1990s, economic mismanagement made the government bankrupt and forced it to take money from the savings of the country's citizens. This caused severe and prolonged hyperinflation, which has been described as the worst in history. Large amounts of money were printed, with coins becoming redundant and inflation rates reaching over one billion per cent per year. This hyperinflation caused five revaluations between 1990 and 1994; in total there were eight distinct dinari. Six of the eight have been given distinguishing names and separate ISO 4217 codes. The highest denomination banknote was 500 billion dinars, which became worthless a fortnight after it was printed.

This glossary of numismatics is a list of definitions of terms and concepts relevant to numismatics and coin collecting, as well as sub-fields and related disciplines, with concise explanations for the beginner or professional.

Token coin Coin-like object used instead of coins

In numismatics, token coins or trade tokens are coin-like objects used instead of coins. The field of token coins is part of exonumia and token coins are token money. Tokens have a denomination either shown or implied by size, color or shape. "Tokens" are often made of cheaper metals: copper, pewter, aluminium, brass and tin were commonly used, while bakelite, leather, porcelain, and other less durable materials are also known.

Venezuelan venezolano Former currency of Venezuela

The venezolano was the currency of Venezuela between 1872 and 1879. It was divided into 100 centavos, although the names céntimo and centésimo were also used. Venezolano was also the name of two currencies planned in 1854 and 1865.

Wooden nickel Style of token coin

In the United States, a wooden nickel is a wooden token coin, usually issued by a merchant or bank as a promotion, sometimes redeemable for a specific item such as a drink.

The Charlton Press, is a book publishing company, which produces pricing guides as well as other books on related topics, including; collectables,, and porcelain figures. The company's first title was Catalogue of Canadian Coins, Tokens & Fractional Currency, published in 1952 and contained all coins used as circulating tender in Canada from 1858 until present.

Civil War token Privately minted token coins

Civil War tokens are token coins that were privately minted and distributed in the United States between 1861 and 1864. They were used mainly in the Northeast and Midwest. The widespread use of the tokens was a result of the scarcity of government-issued cents during the Civil War.

Company scrip Scrip issued by a company to pay its employees

Company scrip is scrip issued by a company to pay its employees. It can only be exchanged in company stores owned by the employers. In the United Kingdom, such truck systems have long been formally outlawed under the Truck Acts. In the United States, payment in scrip became illegal in 1938 as part of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Money Object or record accepted as payment

Money is any item or verifiable record that is generally accepted as payment for goods and services and repayment of debts, such as taxes, in a particular country or socio-economic context. The main functions of money are distinguished as: a medium of exchange, a unit of account, a store of value and sometimes, a standard of deferred payment. Any item or verifiable record that fulfils these functions can be considered as money.

Russell Alphonse Rulau was an American numismatist. He was involved in coin collecting for over 60 years. From his earliest days as a casual collector, Rulau contributed to numismatics as a writer, editor and club organizer. His interest in world coins led him to create the "Coin of the Year" award. The award is presented annually by Krause Publications' World Coin News. Rulau coined the term "exonumia" in 1960.

Bank of Canada Museum

The Bank of Canada Museum, formerly known as Canada's Currency Museum, opened in 1980 on the ground floor of the Bank of Canada building in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Temporarily closed in 2013 for major building renovations, the museum reopened in a new space on July 1, 2017, in a new building, with a completely new design and concept. It is, however, connected to the main building through the Bank of Canada's underground conference centre.

Leper colony money was special money which circulated only in leper colonies due to the fear that money could carry leprosy and infect other people. However, leprosy is not easily transmitted by casual contact or objects; actual transmission only happens through long-term, constant, intimate contact with leprosy sufferers and not through contact with everyday objects used by sufferers.

National Numismatic Collection National coin cabinet of the United States

The National Numismatic Collection is the national coin cabinet of the United States. The collection is part of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History.

Three-cent nickel US copper-nickel three-cent coin (1865–1889)

The copper-nickel three-cent piece, often called a three-cent nickel piece or three-cent nickel, was designed by US Mint Chief Engraver James B. Longacre and struck by the United States Bureau of the Mint from 1865 to 1889. It was initially popular, but its place in commerce was supplanted by the five-cent piece, or nickel.

Chinese tokens were an alternative currency in the form of token coins produced in China during the late Qing dynasty around the time of the Taiping Rebellion in the province of Jiangsu but not by the Taiping government, which had issued its own currency. Later tokens were again issued in Jiangsu during the Japanese occupation. These tokens were typically made by merchants and local businesses as well as local authorities and had nominal values denominated in their value in cash coins.

Habitant token series of tokens used in Lower Canada from 1837

The Habitant token were a series of tokens that were created for use primarily within Lower Canada and were issued in 1837. Produced as a successor to the popular bouquet sous, these tokens depicted a Habitant on the obverse, a traditional depiction of a French-Canadian farmer in winter clothing, and the coat of arms for the City of Montreal on the reverse. The tokens were issued in both one penny/deux sous and half penny/un sou denominations by the leading commercial banks of Montreal. They were issued in large numbers and can be easily acquired by the modern collector, though some varieties are rare and command a premium.

References

  1. McKivor, Bill. "18th Century "EVASION" TOKENS". The Copper Corner. Retrieved 2017-01-30. The laws were written to cover Regal coinage. If a coin was made that was not an EXACT COPY of the Regal coin, it was considered to be a token, and the law did not apply. Thus, the counterfeiters simply switched from making counterfeit coins to making “Evasion” token coinage that looked somewhat like the regal coin.