An E-Sylum reader forwarded this neat article from the Republican American of Waterbury CT about a token issued by Scovill Manufacturing Co. in 1952 to commemorate its 150th anniversary. Scovill created a large number of numismatic items over the years. I hadn't seen this "spinner" token, a promotional item used to decide who pays for a round of beers. -EditorSometimes the smallest things can trigger the greatest memories. For father and son Robert Zabit, senior and junior, it's a coin. But not just any coin.
This particular one evokes Waterbury when it was a manufacturing powerhouse, the once vibrant Brass City where, as Bob Jr. put it, "people worked hard and played hard."
Minted by the Scovill Manufacturing Co. in 1952 to commemorate its 150th anniversary, the shiny brass coin honors an industry's history on one side and a hard-drinking culture on the other.
He placed the coin, which is about the size of a 50-cent piece, face down on a counter, held it between thumb and forefinger and spun it like a top. When the spinning disk came to a stop, an arrow inscribed "YOU PAY" pointed in his direction.
"I guess I buy the round," he laughed.
This is a bar coin, an emblem of a bygone era when factory workers filed into their favorite joint at the end of their shift and, if lucky, could have three or four beers without paying for any of them.
"But you had to stand at the corner of the bar when you spun it, so everyone had a chance of getting stuck with the bill," Zabit explained.
"I remember that," recalled Waterbury's Joseph Begnal, who owned Joe Begnal's Brown Derby right across from the entrance to Scovill's main plant on East Main Street. "We always kept one in the drawer."
Bob senior, a tool setter in Scovill's cosmetic division, was one of "the last three to walk out the door" before the factory closed for good. He still lives nearby. The coin and a key chain inscribed with the exact date the plant closed Nov. 3, 1989 are mementos from 40 years of work he has turned over to his son.
"We share Waterbury's manufacturing history," said Bob junior, 55, who worked for Eastern Color Printing before buying Larry's Wines & Spirits in Middlebury 15 years ago.
The coin is not only rare, but handsomely designed; tactile proof of the company inscription that reads "150 years of craftsmanship in metals." Barely visible within a embossed scene of Scovill's original 1802 plant is a slightly protruding axis point so precisely centered that the coin spins without quavering for nearly a full minute with an easy flick of the fingertips. On the reverse side, along with that fateful arrow, is written: ROUND & AND ROUND SHE GOES, WHERE SHE STOPS NOBODY KNOWS
"By the time that thing stopped, there were a half-dozen pints already on the bar," said Zabit.
To read the complete article, see: Coin in Waterbury evokes memories of Scovill (http://www.rep-am.com/News/359390.txt)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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