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Tokens & Medals Page

Many collectors who start out with coins eventually decide to add some tokens and medals to their collection, and a few even specialize in tokens and medals and other so-called "exonumia."

Advantages

  • Tokens and medals offer much more variety, and sometimes more historical interest, than coins.

  • Tokens from local towns and merchants can add a great deal of "local interest" to your collection.

  • Medals are often of high artistic quality, and are larger and have higher relief than coins.

  • Tokens and medals usually cost less than rare coins, even though the mintages are usually much lower than the mintages of coins.

Disadvantages

  • Tokens and medals are considered to be outside the "mainstream" of U.S. numismatics, which may make resale more difficult, and the items less suitable for investment purposes. (However, there are enough token collectors that "better" tokens often command a good price, for example on eBay.)

  • You should be wary of modern made-for-collector items, especially when sold at retail for high prices that greatly exceed any bullion value. These items almost always lose value on the secondary market. (Instead, concentrate on older historical tokens and medals, or true art medals by well-known artists and sculptors.)

Resources and Articles

Memorial to Al Erickson (1939-2009) – See 3rd Q 2009 Nor'wester, page 9.

Scarce Token Found in Nevada Ghost Town

A gentleman named Joe Caruso wrote to inquire about a token found in the ghost town of Wonder, Churchill County, Nevada, which was an active mining town from 1906 to 1919. Although the token was found in Nevada, it was issued by The Bodega in Spokane. (See picture.) This token is listed in Al Erickson’s book Washington State Trade Tokens, and is quite scarce, with only 3 or 4 pieces reported, based on a limited survey of serious collectors at the time the book was written (a couple of years ago). The token is not necessarily valuable because there are many other tokens from Spokane and most collectors collect by town, but nonetheless it is extremely interesting. The Bodega was likely a tavern, and Bodega also operated a wine company in Spokane, which also issued a token.

Left: Bodega token found in Nevada ghost town.
Right: Bodega whiskey flask, photo courtesy of M. Maye. (Click on images to enlarge.)