CHILE large brass nitrate mine token early 20th century


CHILE, nitrate mine token, no date (early 20th century), Obverse: 1, COMPAƑIA SALITRERA ALEMANA, OFICINA ALEMANA, Reverse: 1, VALE PARA LA PULPERIA, brass, 44.5mm, R-Ant12, nicks, spots, VG

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SKU: 3327401 Categories: ,


Nitrate export was the main business in Chile in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Use of tokens was extensive in the industry, which had the effect of tying workers’ spending power to company stores. Chilean metal tokens of this period are scarcer than vulcanite tokens. They were also heavily used, while the vulcanite tokens we can collect are usually uncirculated.

Chileans made a lot of tokens and medals in the 19th and 20th centuries. The reference used is Latin American Tokens by Russell Rulau.

A token is used like a coin but is not a coin. Rather it stands for a coin without the value of the coin. Maybe its copper but says its value is the same as a silver coin. Usually tokens were made privately but sometimes governments got involved.

The word “exonumia” is used to describe all kinds of things that are “like” coins but are not coins. I wrote a blog post on that subject. Basic categories: 1. used like a coin but not issued by a national government 2. looks like a coin but not made for spending 3. other things that we are interested in.