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.’
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.
The Panther Coal Company† of Roseann, Virginia decided to employ such a technique.
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.
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.
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.
Notes and Sources
† Not to be confused with the present Panther Coal Company, in business today (2011).
Edkins Catalog of United States Coal Company Scrip Third Edition Volume I, Bill Williams, Steve Ratliff, NSCA, ©1997
Scrip, Stuart E. Brown JR, Virginia Book Co, ©1978
Virginia Tokens, David Schenkman, The Virginia Numismatic Association, ©1980
20,000 Coal Company Stores, Gordon Dodrill, ©1971
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