CHILE, vulcanite merchant token, c. 1910


CHILE, token, no date (1910), Obverse: C.A.L., COLICO MERCADERIAS, Reverse: UNO, vulcanite, tan/black/tan, 32mm, coal mine, R-Ara3, VF

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Vulcanite was a hardened rubber product. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries it was used to make various things that later on were made of plastic. Many tokens in Chile were made of vulcanite, and many of the Chilean vulcanite tokens were used in the nitrate mining industry, the product of which was petrified bird droppings.

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.