Borel Lavalley Suez Canal Token

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:


The reverse shows the denomination, a circle of beads, and an inscription:


Reference: Karabell, Z. (2003). Parting the Desert: The Creation of the Suez Canal. Knopf.

World Coin Quiz

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.

Completed Small Set of Hudson’s Bay Company Tokens

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.

1939 Palestine 1 Pound Note

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.

Hudson’s Bay Company ½ Made Beaver Token

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.

Egypt Bond, or Receipt, for Palestine War

I believe this is an Egyptian bond from the 1940s, or donation receipt, for people to support the war in Palestine. I bought this one off eBay. The note’s denomination is 10 pounds.

I’m interested in learning if these notes were bonds that got paid back or if they were donation receipts. I’ve read descriptions online stating both.

The bonds come in denominations of 50 Pounds, 10 Pounds, 5 Pounds, 100 Piasters, and 50 Piasters.

Suez Canal Cooperative Society Tokens from 1892

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.”

Whitewater, New Mexico Camp

This rare CCC token is from Whitewater, New Mexico, camp 2846. Whitewater is a small community in Grant County in southwest New Mexico. It features a cool, semi-arid climate.

There were two camps in Whitewater, one in 1936 and then another in 1938. Both worked on soil conservation projects.

The round token is small, only 20 mm in diameter. It is made from aluminum. It was used for playing billiards.

One side of the token reads:

The other side reads:
COMPANY / 2846 / CCC

Jerome, Arizona, Paper Chit

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.

eBay item number: 203050460365