RUSSIA, TEKNESIS Co., telephone token, no date (c. 1992-94), Obverse: …GTC-1A, Reverse: no legend, cadmium plated steel, 18mm, 2.06g, KB1.1, VF

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As the Soviet Union broke apart a period of economic anarchy ensued. Local and private money was used in many places. The main token types were telephone and transit, often made by the same shops. After around 1994 the transit tokens were replaced by plastic cards, versions of which are still in use today. The phones are all cell phones now.

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.