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Question About Unusual Coinage Materials/Post Your Unusual Materials Coins!

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Pillar of the Community
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 Posted 03/25/2017  7:16 pm Show Profile   Check casualcoincollector's eBay Listings Check casualcoincollector's eCrater Listings Bookmark this topic Add casualcoincollector to your friends list Get a Link to this Message

I have a question that I would like to propose: I have been putting together a metals/materials coin set for some time now that contains all the various metals/materials that were used in/for circulating coins/(coin tokens with face value) throughout history. The set that I have so far currently contains examples for the following: aluminum, antimony, chrome, clay, copper, fibre, gold, iron, ivory plastic(Bakelite), lead, magnesium, manganese, mercury, nickel, palladium, platinum, ruthenium, silver, tin, zinc, arsenic (copper bell arsenic), bamboo(wood), lacquered pressed cardboard (paper Notgeld), coal(carbon), glass, leather, and vulcanite (vulcanized black rubber) I think that I have finished the set but I know there is probably a material or two that I missed. So, my question is does anyone here know of any other metals/materials that were used in circulating coins/coin tokens at any point in history that are not included in my list? Any new information would be extremely helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions for me. Thanks.

Best Regards,

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 Posted 03/25/2017  7:53 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add coaster to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Sounds interesting, have you seen this site?
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 Posted 03/25/2017  9:40 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add oriole to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
You forgot silk, linen, and jute, used in notgeld.
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 Posted 03/25/2017  9:45 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Scissel to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
How about alloys? Steel, brass, "nordic gold", electrum, etc...
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 Posted 03/25/2017  10:12 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Crazyb0 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
How @ porcelin Notgeld, or the old billion silver mixes?
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Russian Federation
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 Posted 03/27/2017  12:09 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add january1may to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I don't think palladium or ruthenium were ever used in anything circulating.
And if you include NCLT, you forgot tantalum and niobium. (And apparently titanium, which I forgot about.)

I don't think I have anything more exotic than tin, though (one of the Thai coins, a bunch of Japanese tin-zinc ones, and three or four assorted contemporary counterfeits that were apparently made of tin).
Valued Member
United States
284 Posts
 Posted 11/02/2017  12:26 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nautilator to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Can't believe I didn't see this before... in addition to the above, you've got:

Cloth, like the Chinese silver dachin.

Fish skin depression scrip issued by Hackett Larson in WA.

Sheepskin depression scrip issued by Heppner, OR.

Buckskin depression scrip issued by Enterprise, OR.

Clam shells. Also depression scrip, issued by Pismo Beach and Crescent City.

Cowrie shells. Used in ancient China, southeast Asia, western Africa, etc. I was told by someone that collects primitive money that a small number of people in Thailand still do.

(Actual) rubber nickels: tokens issued by Des Moines Rubber Co.

If you go a little more specific into wood, Beaver Falls PA issued commemorative corkwood nickels.

Bone. Not 100% sure on this but a British coin company says that tokens issued by William Miller are made of bone. While I can't verify that anywhere else and there's a lot of conflicting info, the ones I have show a grain that I can believe they are bone.

Tea bricks. These were used in Tibet, made in China and used as money. Ken Bressett did a report on these that can be read here:
All the ones out there at the moment are modern made.

Stone, and not just those big ones on Yap. Togo/Ghana stone money is much smaller and easier to get a hold of.

Mica, for those civil war postage stamp notes. I think postage stamps themselves should be considered their own material as well. There are quite a few European ones more modern than our civil war.

You can consider plastic in general to be one.

You might consider plastic over metal and plastic over paper as its own material as well. AAFES pogs, for example.

You can argue that trade mirrors are their own category, or include them as glass.

Ore. In Colorado in 1959 they issued plastic packets filled with ore shavings and made that a good-for token.

And if you're willing to count private issues, the Arkansas Valley Coin Club issued a vinyl watermelon nickel in 1949 even though they call it "wood".

If you're still around, please contact me... I've got questions about some of the things you mentioned.
Edited by nautilator
11/02/2017 12:50 pm
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 Posted 11/02/2017  5:13 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Conder101 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
You mention bakelite plastic, Keeling cocos used a different type of plastic on their 1968 coins and Transnesia (sp?) issued resin impregnated fiber coins a few years ago. I believe there is also a clear acrylic plastic commemorative that one country issued but I can't remember which.
Gary Schmidt
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United States
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 Posted 11/02/2017  11:16 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nautilator to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Yes, the acrylic plastic are issued by Congo. They also issued a wooden gorilla coin in recent times as well.
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 Posted 11/03/2017  06:13 am  Show Profile   Check casualcoincollector's eBay Listings Check casualcoincollector's eCrater Listings Bookmark this reply Add casualcoincollector to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Hello nautilator, Thanks for your message. I actually finished this set (meaning I think that I am done with it but I'm open to adding new items if they fit within the criteria) back in July but your ideas are some really good ones. I made catalog of the finished set and if I can get the photos to work I will post the finished set below.

I wanted to restrict the set to coins that actually generally circulated or at least were designed for general circulation. I also wanted the material represented to be the material that held the value/intrinsic value in the coin.

So, as far as the cloth Chinese note, the fish skin, sheep skin, buck skin depression scripts goes those are all really good ideas but those would qualify them as promissory notes (too similar to paper money) and not coins in my opinion.

I thought about trying to add a clam shell depression script but even though they are really interesting they were never manufactured into a coin, meaning they were just a script written on a clam shell. So not really a coin in my opinion, Also, I couldn't find any original examples for sale anywhere. so that also knocked that one out.

As far as the bone tokens from William Miller goes, they are indeed made of bone and were issued around the end of the 19th century shortly before the advent of backlite plastic. And that is an item that I did end up adding after I originally posted this thread in March.

As far as cowrie shells and stone money goes, I'm trying to avoid proto money, it's just too vague. But that being said I would really like to find a stone and or sea shell tokens that are similar in style to the William Miller bone tokens but to my knowledge none exist.

I actually found a rubber one cent United States Civil War token that I added to the set.

I actually have a Tibet Tea Brick but it's not really a coin more of just a set system of commodity barter like salt bars. So, I didn't end up adding it to the set.

Adding an encased postage stamp for mica is an interesting thought and I actually have a couple but I think that that would be a little bit of a stretch since the mina is only a component of the token and not were there value of the token is placed which in the case of an encased postage stamp is in the stamp itself and not the brass and mica case.

I just looked into the cork nickel you mentioned but it seems they were only designed to circulate during that particular fair that they were issued for (meaning they had an expiration date) which was only about 5 days so not really designed for general circulation.

You mentioned that you have some questions for me and by all means go ahead and ask them. I'll see if I can answer them for you.

Below are pictures of the set so far. Please let me know if you have any questions for me and please let me know what you think. Thanks.

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 Posted 11/03/2017  06:24 am  Show Profile   Check casualcoincollector's eBay Listings Check casualcoincollector's eCrater Listings Bookmark this reply Add casualcoincollector to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Hello january1may, I originally thought that too but then I found out that the 3 coins in the palladium 1967 Tongan coronation set did circulate for at least 2 years or so in the country of Tonga. The set was 1/4, 1/2, and one Hau. One Hau was worth 100 pa'anga. The pa'anga was pegged to the Australian dollar in 1967 which was worth $1.12 USD at the time. So one Hau had a face value of 112 USD in 1967. I included a 1/4 Hau which had a face value of 28 USD at the time. Palladium was only worth about 50 USD an ounce at the time. The coins in that set just had a really high face value.
Edited by casualcoincollector
11/03/2017 06:33 am
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 Posted 11/03/2017  06:57 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add sel_69l to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I'll bet that you haven't got an example of Yap Island stone money! , or a
bullion bar made of compressed tea - (China)
- Siamese porcelain tokens?
- coins made of paper (encased postage stamps).

I have to admit: you have examples of materials that coins have been made of, that I knew nothing about.
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United States
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 Posted 11/03/2017  10:22 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nautilator to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
A lot of the things I wanted to ask you were what examples you were using (mostly answered), where did you manage to find some of them, and where are you getting your information from.

You mentioned mercury -- what do you have in that regards?

Information-wise, where did you learn that William Miller issued bone tokens? There's at least one other issue I'm looking at that appears exactly the same as those ones and I wonder if there are more like them out there. For future reference, I want to see if my suspicion about the grain is right in identifying it as bone.

Where did you get that Austrian leather one? I foolishly ignored the one I saw of this some time ago and it's not exactly a common thing. I recently learned there are others in that series.

Same goes with the antimony coin -- where do you find it? One person on eBay has one up and all of that person's asking prices on all items are unbelievable.

And the bamboo tally. Those seem to be common enough but nicer ones like the one you have are not and I'm not sure of the price/grade ratio on what I'm seeing out there at the moment.

I'm guessing you have some good sources that you're able to get some of things I'm seeing, like the high grade Keeling Cocos and Russian platinum issues. I too have been collecting by material (and the above list was the result of a year of heavy research) and I'm having a hard time finding a lot of things for obvious reasons -- though I got some good ones too!

One more thing: I also recently learned that Austria apparently issued a set of wax notgeld back in the day but I don't think those would be considered circulating. Those aren't exactly a common item either.
Edited by nautilator
11/03/2017 10:26 am
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 Posted 11/03/2017  1:59 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Finn235 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Some super coins there!

I'd have to bust out my copy of Hartill, but the Japanese mint officials started cutting the cash coins with various metals and materials when the copper mines started to dry up in the 1750s. IIRC, some of the materials used included Antimony, lead, and even arsenic in varying proportions - some of those would make a gold "poor man's" substitute for the really tough materials.

Also, I don't know how far you want to venture into alloys, but potin would be a good candidate for a distinct type of material used in ancient times. Technically a bronze alloy, it was copper mixed with so much tin and lead that it could be melted at very low temperatures and cast into coins on demand. It was primarily used in Celtic gaul, later Roman Egypt, and the Satavahana empire in India.
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 Posted 11/03/2017  2:18 pm  Show Profile   Check jdmern's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add jdmern to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Keeling cocos issued pieces are listed as 'Plastic Ivory' , but are sort of an early plastic type... I actually just picked up a couple (in Europe on a buying trip now)

When I have a bit more time (and good internet!) I will post some more on this topic, as German Notgeld is an area I specialize in...
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 Posted 11/04/2017  4:55 pm  Show Profile   Check casualcoincollector's eBay Listings Check casualcoincollector's eCrater Listings Bookmark this reply Add casualcoincollector to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

The bulk of the items in the set were purchased off of eBay over several years. In regards to where the information came from, it just took a ridiculous amount of internet research. My information all came from various websites found on google and the book Whitman book curious currency. I've listed some of the websites that I had saved from a while back at the bottom.

In regards to mercury used in coins. That would be any late Roman Empire silvered coin. Those coins were silvered using a mercury amalgam. I originally had the coin photographed at the bottom included as part of the set but I opted to take it out since the even though the coins surface layer (silvering) contains mercury it was just a byproduct of the manufacturing process. So the mercury was just an impurity and was not intended to be part of the coin. The link below is the best study that I have come across in regards to this:

I leaned about the William Miller bone tokens through some trial and error. This was done by going to google and searching to see if different things actually existed. Meaning searching "blank material" token/coin and it actually worked. That's how I found out about bone tokens and rubber tokens. It seems there were a few manufactures of bone tokens and not just William Miller but all British from around the same time period. From my experience the grain is not an end all for the bone tokens in that if the token does have a grain you can pretty much assume that it's a bone token but not all bone tokens had a grain. The following link is the only reference that I came across for the bone tokens:

The Austrian Leather Notgeld coin came from an eBay seller from Austria. There not too expensive but I'm pretty sure I got a good deal on this one, I think I paid about $30 for it but they don't seem to come up for sale very often. To my knowledge there are two denominations in that series. The circular 10 heller that I have in the set and the half moon shaped 1 Krone piece. They are talked about the Whitman book curious currency.

From my experience. The 1931 Kweichow antimony coin is a one off and is by far the hardest and can be the most expensive coin in the set to get ahold of. I got mine off of eBay about a year and a half ago and I had to pay over three times current catalog value for it and I still think that I got a good deal after taking into account what I've seen them actually sell for recently. I ended up paying around $810 for it which I know seems like a massive over payment for what it is but I have found records of these sold at auction for over six times the stated catalog value and they just don't come up for sale very often and when they do they always seem to be expensive/overpriced for what they are and consistently sell for significantly above the auction estimates. So based on that I think that the catalog is just not up to date with current realized auction prices of this particular coin. Mine is a VG10 and currently catalogs in Krause for $250 in VG8 but I found records of a worse looking certified VG10 that sold for $1200 recently not including the buyers' premium (see the below link). The fact of the matter is that the 1931 Kweichow antimony coin is just really rare and really highly sought after coin. PCGS has only certified 13 and NGC has only certified 11 and 2 with a details rating so 13 total. So there are currently only 26 certified examples total available to the world. I just looked it up. Also, unless you are buying it from a really reputable seller/auction house you really want to get a certified example of this one since this was originally a cast coin and not struck so although not common pretty convincing contemporary and modern counterfeits do exist.

It seems that the reality is that you really have one of two options or a mix of two options when building an obscure set like this in that you are either going to have to over pay (paying what I consider some kind of convenience premium) to get some of the really obscure/rare items you need to fill in the set if you want them immediately or you are going to have to wait to see if a more reasonably priced one comes on the market in the future but that may take many years for some of these items and you may miss/not notice it if a more reasonable priced item does come to market. I had been looking for an antimony coin for about two years before I found one within a tolerable price range for me and I bought it within 24 hours of the seller listing it and a year and a half later I'm still glad I did since I have not seen a cheaper one for sale since then.

I would assume that the antimony coin is the hardest one to get ahold of since it seems to be the only coin in the set that is both very rare and very highly sought after.

As far as the bamboo tally goes, they are not that expensive and are relatively common since if you notice the little bit of red ink on the top of the tally means that this particular tally was canceled and most likely never actually put into circulation. So it was designed for general circulation but was most likely never actually issued to the public. I think I paid about $30 for mine from a seller on eBay which from my experience was a little bit over priced for a canceled one but the main reason that it appealed to me is that the eBay seller provided the page with all of the translations, which was a huge plus and made the premium well worth it. It also appealed to me since it was a bank token with a face value and not just a ticket to enter a specific bath house/tea house token (that's why the translation is important). The best article that I have found on bamboo tallies is as follows:

Unfortunately, I have not found any good magic sources in regards to finding these items. I bought the bulk of the items off of eBay over many years. A lot of it is just paying attention to eBay to see if something that you are looking for is listed for sale/comes up for sale.

I just looked into the wax Notgeld you mentioned and that's pretty cool. I haven't heard of that before. Also, I would bet that they probably actually did circulate but it is classified as a banknote and not a coin as in the below link:

https:// (204) Not Allowed - Auto-Removed .com/en/banknotes/list/country/56529-Austrian_Notgeld/series/290338-Neukematen/catalog/1128-Jaksch_PickRichter_JPR

Anyway I hope this helps, please let me know if you have any other questions for me.

Some Relevant articles/websites that I had saved:

General Info on coinage materials:

Antimony Coin:

Magnesium Coin:

Wooden Money:


Edited by casualcoincollector
11/04/2017 7:26 pm
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