ITALY, telephone token, 1979


ITALY, telephone token, 1979, Obverse: ESM-7912, bronze, 24mm, XF

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From the 1950s to the 1970s a telephone call cost 50 lire and you had to buy a token at a store, a 50 lire a coin wouldn’t work. The tokens were made by several different companies and had alphanumerics denoting the run. A checklist of run designations exists. Some are rare.

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.