Special to the Daily News
On Oct. 5, collectors of coal mine scrip will gather at the Pine Mountain State Park for the Fall Meeting of the National Scrip Collectors Association (NSCA). For the first time in several years, the token collector’s group is returning to the Tri-State area for their Fall conclave.
The NSCA is a group of numismatics with a historical focus who collect coal mine scrip, lumber scrip, merchant and mill tokens, and mining paraphernalia of all kinds. Last year more than 200 scrip collectors met in Abingdon, Va. from at least 12 states for their meeting, and this year NSCA members from California to the District of Columbia have pre-registered.
Scrip was a form of credit that allowed employees to borrow an advance on their future earnings in the form of tokens made of paper, various metals, fiber or plastic which they could then use to purchase food, clothing, tools (or most anything for sale in a country store) at a commissary, or company store, located in the mining camp, or company town. Scrip was issued in denominations from 1 cent to $20, and occasionally in odd denominations such as 2.5 cents, 3 cents, 4 cents or 12.5 cents.
Although the most common form of scrip is issued by coal companies, the tokens were also used in lumber camps, textile mills, railroads, packing plants and other industries. Country stores also issued “merchant tokens” as a form of credit tokens, which could be redeemed only at the business issuing them.
More than 150 different mines issued scrip in Bell County, more than 100 in Lee County, Va., more than 200 in Harlan County and more than 50 in Claiborne County, Tenn. In addition, coal companies in more than 25 states, from California to Pennsylvania, issued scrip. Lumber companies all over North America issued scrip, including many in the Tri-State Area.
From noon to 5 p.m. on Oct. 5 and from 8 a.m. to noon on Oct. 6, the NSCA will open its meeting to the public at the Pine Mountain State Park Convention Center. Visitors are welcome at no charge. Membership in the NSCA is open to the public, and annual dues are only $20. Books on scrip published by the NSCA will be available for sale, scrip will be available for sale or trade, collections may be appraised at no charge, and individual pieces or entire collections of scrip sold.
The meeting at Pineville is being hosted by Crawford Blakeman Sr., of Middlesboro and Steve Cawood of Pineville.