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FEATURED WEB PAGE: PALO SECO LEPER COLONY TOKENSThis week's featured web page is from the Coins of Panama web site, featuring the Palo Seco Leper Colony tokens.
Palo Seco (the name means "Dry Stick" in Spanish) was an ocean-side 500 acre fruit farm about six miles from Panama City. The fruit farm was isolated, and initially access was only by boat (even though it was part of the mainland). In order to be more homelike, the facility was built like a Panamanian village. It had a plaza with a chapel one one side and the dwelling houses on the other side of the plaza. It was surrounded by trees, which also grew among the buildings.
Below are some recollections of the daughter of the paymaster who visited Palo Seco:
"My Dad told me that the lepers would carry a string that had a button on one end and a loop on the other that they threaded through the hole in the center of the coins so they could keep them under control. Most of the lepers had horribly disfigured and missing fingers which made handling of the coins difficult for them.
There was a Catholic church at the colony and the lepers would put coins into the collection basket. The nuns that keep the church and linens clean would also clean the coins in alcohol and then present them to the paymaster for U.S. currency on the colony payday."
Wayne Homren, Editor
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