What Is It
No, it’s not a wild new pet. Exonumia is numismatic items other than coins and paper money. It’s all the other “stuff,” tokens, medals, scrip (room to argue here), and the like. They come from private businesses, governments, municipalities, and 3rd parties. They were created and used for educational purposes, as proof of ownership, as a way to commemorate events/people/places, to denote rights, or as another form of commerce (think pinball, bridges, amusement parks).
The collection of these items has always been around, but the most popular guides begin to be published in the 1980’s. The guides break down exonumia into tokens and medals, and subcategories such as by merchant, by date, by geographical location.
You may have heard of Hard Times tokens, countermarked coins, elongated coins, wooden nickels, hobo nickels, and the like. The Appollo 11 medal to the right is another example. All of these are exonumia.
The collection of this material is somewhat specialized, however, compared to coins or paper money; an excellent collection can be build at a reasonable cost.
We tend to see the most interest in Civil War exonumia and patriotic medals. Most of these items were used as a way to expedite commerce, as individuals did not want to spend their “money.” Many people had fears that one or both of the governments would fall and they wanted to hold onto their gold and silver coins, thus the proliferation of tokens.
Hobo nickels are also quite famous, even if they are recent creations.
If you come across some “strange” coins, call us up to let us help you figure out what you are looking at.