Each week, CoinWeek, in collaboration with the Numismatic Bibliomania Society, brings you a highlighted feature from the current volume of the E-Sylum eNewsletter.
This week, E-Sylum reader and Connecticut-based numismatist Bob Hewey proposes a new approach to cataloguing Prison Scrip
While Jerry Zara, in his 1992 book entitled Prison Tokens and Medals of the United States, has done a great service to the collectors of prison money, I believe his numbering system leaves something to be desired. He simply uses a two letter State identifier followed by a sequential number, interspacing a few numbers between series for new additions, should they be found.
To research an alternative to this approach, I looked at The American Vectorist Association volumes on transportation, parking and carwash tokens, Alpert’s Catalogue of Charge Coins and other similar volumes as well as the standard Yeoman and Krause coin standard catalogs. None of these approaches seemed satisfactory to me.
I propose a new approach, identifying the state, facility, type of scrip, series identifier, denomination or use, and subtype identifier as follows:
State: Two Alpha State Identifier (e.g. AK = Alaska)
Facility: Three Alpha Facility Identifier (e.g. TSF = Tucker State Farm)
Type of Scrip: B=Coupon Book/Card, C=Coupon/ticket, P=Punch Card, T=Token, N=Note
Series: One Alpha Identifier of a group of a similar type of scrip (A through Z)
Denomination/Use: Three Characters (e.g. 001 = one cent, 100 = $1, $10 = $10, LAU = Laundry, SHW = Show, GEN = Generic)
Subtype: One lower case alpha to identify die variations within a type.
While this approach may seem cumbersome, I believe it provides the necessary flexibility to properly catalog current and future prison money types.
1. Zara’s Catalog Numbers AR-50 to AR-54 for Tucker State Farm would become: AR-TSF-T-A005, AR-TSF-T-A010, AR-TSF-T-A025, AR-TSF-T-A050, AR-TSF-T-A100.
2. Zara’s Allegheny County Jail Scrip tickets PA-1 to PA-7 would become: PA-ALL-C-A001, PA-ALL-C-A002, PA-ALL-C-A005, PA-ALL-C-A010, PA-ALL-C-A025, PA-ALL-C-A050, PA-ALL-C-A100, and the books containing these tickets, which are not identified in Zara would become: PA-ALL-B-A500, PA-ALL-B-A$10, PA-ALL-B-A$15, PA-ALL-B-A$20.
3. Zara’s punch card NH-1 would become NH-STP-P-A050.
4. Zara’s NY-20 and NY-21 would become NY-SNG-T-A025a and NY-SNG-T-A025b
It is my intention to publish a revised Prison Scrip Catalog and would welcome information on items unlisted in Zara’s book as well as comments on my proposed numbering system. You may send your suggestions, comments and information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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