This rare token was issued by Borel, Lavalley, and Company, an engineering firm and contractor to the Suez Canal Company. Frenchman Ferdinand de Lesseps and his Suez Canal Company built the canal between 1859 and 1869.
Paul Borel and Alexandre Lavalley formed their company in December 1863. Graduates of a polytechnic school, both worked in the railway industry before joining the canal project. An estimated 74 million cubic meters of material was excavated for the main canal, and Borel and Lavalley handled more than 75 percent of it. (Karabell, 2004, p. 208-210.)
The company issued trade tokens, presumably for workers to buy provisions at the company store. Tokens are good for 20 cents, 50 cents, 1 Franc, or 5 Francs. The 5 Franc pieces are the most rare.
Shown here is a 50 cent piece. The obverse depicts a ship in the center, surrounded by beads and an inscription: TRAVAUX DU CANAL DE SUEZ EGYPTE
Translation: WORKS ON THE SUEZ CANAL EGYPT
The reverse shows the denomination, a circle of beads, and an inscription: BOREL LAVALLEY ET COMPIE BON POUR 50 CENTIMES 1865
Translation: BOREL LAVALLEY AND COMPANY GOOD FOR 50 CENTS 1865
Reference: Karabell, Z. (2003). Parting the Desert: The Creation of the Suez Canal. Knopf.
The Willamette Coin Club met virtually again in October. We held three coin quizzes by presenting slides over Zoom. Attendees wrote down their guesses on paper at home, and we scored the quiz at the end. Honor system. The winners received a nice coin from the club’s collection mailed through the post office.
There are roughly 6500 languages in the world. I like the variety of written forms and designs on world coins. I selected photos of coins showing 16 different written languages. I cropped and rotated the images to maximize the characters. The coins are biased for European languages.
The quiz can be downloaded below as a PDF document.
I recently completed assembling a small set of Hudson’s Bay Company East Main district tokens after winning a 1 Made Beaver piece in a Dix Noonan Webb auction. These pieces are hard to find, especially in nicer condition. My 1 MB piece shows the most wear and has likely been cleaned (due to off color). With so few pieces coming up for sale, I need to buy when I can. I will continue watching for an upgrade.
I bought this note from the British Mandate of Palestine. The Palestine Currency Board produced banknotes with values of 500 mils, 1 pound, 5 pounds, 10 pounds, 50 pounds and 100 pounds. It’s my first piece of Palestine currency; I’m working on a complete date set of the coinage.
This Canadian token from around 1857 was worth ½ of a Made Beaver for fur trappers in the land east of Hudson Bay. It was part of a vast region of British North America called Prince Rupert’s Land. The Hudson’s Bay Company was gifted exclusive trading rights to all lands within the watersheds of Hudson’s Bay and the Hudson’s Bay Straits.
A Made Beaver is a unit of value created to facilitate trade between the Hudson’s Bay Company and trappers. It was worth a high quality, large beaver skin. Trappers exchanged them for company goods.
Some of the tokens have a punch mark on the denomination side, between the N and B. It is thought these punched pieces were used in a different region.
One side of the token shows the crest (coat of arms) of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Motto: Pro Pelle Cutem Latin, meaning ‘a pelt for a skin.’
HB: Hudson Bay EM : East Main district ½: denomination NB: made beaver, die cutter error
These pieces are rare. This example has a some mint luster left. It also has a dark spot that I would love to remove, but have not been able to.
This is a 1 Franc token from the Suez Canal Cooperative Society in Egypt. It was issued in 1892 and is made of aluminum.
The canal was completed decades before 1892. These pieces must have been used by co-op workers at the operating canal.
There are two other token sets that circulated during the 10-year construction of the canal (1859 to 1869). Those tokens are dated 1865. One set is from “Ch. & A. Bazin” and the other from “Borel Lavalley and Co.”
I saw this paper chit on eBay. It looks to me like an original medium of exchange used during the CCC period from Arizona. I bid on it, but did not win. It sold on August 2, 2020, for $24 US.
Jerome is a small town in central Arizona between Phoenix and Flagstaff. The CCC Legacy website does not list a camp from Jerome, but there were camps in nearby Clarkdale, Prescott and Flagstaff.
I did a little reading and found that chits are official notes showing an amount of money that is owed or has been paid. This piece represented credit for two shows at a theater in Jerome, and the chit was only valid for CCC workers.
I am a member of the Willamette Coin Club in Portland, Oregon and gave a presentation on CCC tokens this week. The club missed its March meeting because of the COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home orders in Oregon. In April, we held an online meeting, and it went pretty well. My presentation is linked below if you want to see it.