One of my many collecting specialties is Charge Coins, those metallic forerunners of today's credit cards. Dealer Steve Hayden is
beginning to offer a number of these for sale. Here's an excerpt from his February 12, 2016 "eBay Update and Announcements"
And Now For Something Completely Different
Its...Charge Coins. We must confess we have never cared for Charge Coins.
Mostly this was based on ignorance as in our 30 plus years as a exonumia dealer we have only handled 20 or 30 of the most common and boring
examples. Other than when they were the hottest thing, around 20 years ago, almost no one ever asks for them. But we are open minded and when we got
the chance to buy Steve Alpert's collection, we had to investigate. Steve literally wrote the book on the subject and built the most extensive
Charge Coins were the forerunners of our current Credit Cards used as an easy way to extend credit to pre-approved customers. They were
issued by department stores and other retail and service businesses beginning in the late 19th century. The typical example will have the
customer's credit account number on one side and a business logo on the other.
Frequently they were issued holed to facilitate attachment to a key ring, fob or necklace. A wide range of businesses issued these
tokens, aside from department stores many were also used by clothing, shoe and jewelry stores. Still others were issued by taxicab, hotel,
restaurant, nightclub and car rental concerns.
Although Pennsylvania Charge Coins are the most numerous, followed distantly by New York, many other geographical areas are represented. In
the Alpert book additional pieces are listed from California, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota,
Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia along with a number of others states represented by just one
or two examples.
Odd shapes are almost the norm and while many are oval others have fancy flourishes added to a basic shape and still others are figural in
nature in forms such as shirts, coats, hats, keys, shoes, etc. The Alpert collection has nearly 700 different examples and while there are a few
common issues, the vast majority are quite scarce to rare. These will all be sold on eBay over the next year. There are already 20 up for auction in
our new Charge Coin category with new pieces planed each day. We even have a limited supply of Alpert's Charge Coin Book for those interested.
I would encourage token collectors and bibliophiles to purchase a copy of the Alpert book, which is a successor to the earlier
compilation by Ed Dence which helped kick off the earlier charge coin craze. I helped Ed compile the index for his later editions.
To view Steve Hayden's Charge Coin category, see:
Results for Charge Coins
To read the complete article, see:
Alpert's Catalogue of
Charge Coins First and Only Edition 2003
Wayne Homren, Editor
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