Panther Coal Company First Rail Car

The First Railroad Coal Car for Panther Coal Company – May 20th 1914

For many workers and families who worked mines and inhabited coal towns, English was a second or third language. As new immigrants recently settled in the United States, they were just learning to speak the language. Many others, who weren’t immigrants, were unable to read and write.

Coal companies and Company Stores addressed such challenges by making their tokens distinguishable from other coal scrip and coinage. Most companies ordered their tokens manufactured with ‘cut-outs.’

Panther Coal Company Railroad Depot Station

A few, however, decided to forgo ‘cut-outs’ and employ an alternate method. They would order their scrip designed with bold and sometimes beautiful devices. The boldness of the devices made these tokens stand-out, and enabled them to be quite distinguishable even after the token itself became quite worn down.

Miner at the Panther Coal Company

Panther Coal Company Miner

The Panther Coal Company† of Roseann, Virginia decided to employ such a technique.

Numismatic Specimens

Below is a 5-cent Panther coal token. Minted by Ingle-Schierloh of Dayton, the obverse features a beautifully formed panther device. Issued to miners and their families, the tokens were struck for use at the Roseanne Grocery Company Store.

Given the force required to strike and form the panther on the obverse, the lower portion of the reverse device was adversely compromised.

The token is Extra Fine, and was photographed using axial lighting with clear glass angled at 45 degrees.  It is rated as an R-2 on the Edkins Rarity Scale. It measures 19mm in diameter.

Panther Coal Company Token Edkins VA2459-A5 5-cents

As with the previous, the following 10-cent specimen is also Extra Fine. Note too on the reverse, just above the ‘A’ in ‘TRADE’, a similar phenomena has occurred as with the previous 5-cent piece.

Again, this can be attributed to the metal flow requirements on the obverse to form the panther device.  As with the above specimen, this 10-cent piece is also an R-2 on the Edkins Rarity Scale, and is 19mm in diameter.

Panther Coal Company Token Edkins VA2459-A10 10-cents

Finally below is a 25-cent denomination. The specimen is also Extra Fine. But unlike the previous two specimens, no metal flow phenomenon appears to exist on the reverse of the specimen. I attribute the absence due to the size of the specimen and hence more metal content for flow and adequately form the panther device.  Measuring at 25mm in diameter, this final piece is rated as an R-3 on the Edkins Rarity Scale.

Panther Coal Company Token Edkins VA2459-A25 25-cents

Aaron Packard [End Mark]

Notes and Sources

† Not to be confused with the present Panther Coal Company, in business today (2011).

  1. Edkins Catalog of United States Coal Company Scrip Third Edition Volume I, Bill Williams, Steve Ratliff, NSCA, ©1997
  2. Scrip, Stuart E. Brown JR, Virginia Book Co, ©1978
  3. Virginia Tokens, David Schenkman, The Virginia Numismatic Association, ©1980
  4. 20,000 Coal Company Stores, Gordon Dodrill, ©1971
  5. Library of Congress Digital Archives

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The author has over 30 years experience in North American numismatics. He is the author of numerous articles about exonumia, including those about tokens, scrip, and the public who used them. He is a member of the ANA, VNA, ACC, C4, CWTS, TAMS, MD-TAMS, AVA, NSCA, and NumisSociety.
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6 Responses to “The Panther Coal Company Tokens” Subscribe

  1. sean baker October 25, 2014 at 7:07 pm #

    I have a 25c token in perfect condition. I am curious what it is worth.

    • Aaron Packard October 25, 2014 at 7:26 pm #

      Hi Sean –

      Approximately $20 retail.

  2. STEVE M December 29, 2014 at 7:40 pm #

    I have five Panther Mountain coal coins in fair to good condition. A $1-piece, a 50-cent piece, a 25-cent piece, a 10-cent piece, and a 5-cent piece. Can anyone give me a value on them?

    • Aaron Packard December 29, 2014 at 11:27 pm #

      Hi Steve –

      I do not see a listing in the Edkins book for a 50-cent Panther Coal Company piece. Please kindly send me a photo of its obverse (heads) and reverse (tails) so I can do further research.

      The 5-cent and 10-cent pieces are listed as R-2 in rarity. (200-299 known to exist. Quite common)
      The 25-cent and 1$ pieces are listed as R-3 in rarity. (150-199 known to exist. Somewhat common)

      Edkins assigns a rarity value of $2.75 for each R-2 piece; $4.00 for each R-3 piece. The guide was published in 1997, so I would multiply each by 3 to get the current retail value. ($8.25 and $12.00 respectively)

  3. Tonya England September 13, 2015 at 9:21 pm #

    Hello- I have been recently reunited with my family in Paw Paw Ky and learned that my Grandfather Ples England worked for the Panther Coal Co for many years. I was wondering if you have any archive pictures or anything related to him. I would cherish any info you may have.
    My phone number is 804-833-2422. Or my email is
    tegflowers @gmail.com.
    Thanks so much!!!!
    Tonya England In Va.

    • Aaron Packard September 23, 2015 at 5:54 pm #

      Hi Tonya –

      It’s nice to hear that you have been reunited with your family and to learn about your grandfather’s employment at Panther Coal. Unfortunately ma’am I don’t have anything specific about Ples England in my files. While I don’t normally do this, if you want to send me his information (name, dates he lived there, approximate age, job function at Panther) I can see if I can dig up any information on him. Please click on the ‘contact’ section in the menu, and send the information to the ‘support & enquiries’ email address.

      Thanks, kindly

      Aaron Packard

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