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Token of the Month #1 -
The Atlantic Coast Lumber Company 1 Token of Georgetown, South Carolina

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Each month there will be a special South Carolina token or medal that is highlighted as the Token or Medal of the Month. This month the honor goes to an interesting rectangular 1 cent token issued by the Atlantic Coast Lumber Company of Georgetown.

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The token pictured above is made of aluminum and measures 17mm by 20mm. It is part of a set of rectangular aluminum tokens issued in the early 1900s. A single one-dollar specimen, two five-cent specimens, and two one-cent specimens are known, making all specimens from this set very rare. The shape of the token is somewhat unusual for South Carolina tokens; very few rectangular tokens are known to have been issued in the state.

The Atlantic Coast Lumber Company was one of the most prolific issuers of tokens in South Carolina, although few survive in collectors hands today. The company issued at least six distinctly different sets of trade tokens. Most of these sets were made up of five different denominations, ranging in value from five cents to one dollar. At least two of the sets also encompassed one-cent denominations. Two sets were struck in aluminum; the rectangular set of which the token of the month is a part, and an octagonal set. The other sets were struck in a bimetallic composition, with aluminum centers inside brass collars. As mentioned above, few trade tokens from the Atlantic Coast Lumber Company have survived the years, all specimens presently known are rare. Besides trade tokens, the company also issued many time checks, which did not have a stated value, but were needed by the employee to claim his paycheck.

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A postcard showing the company's sawmill.

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The company was formed in 1899 when the potential value of the vast amounts of standing timber in Georgetown County was discovered by a group of Northern lumbermen. Options were taken by the company on this timber and that of surrounding counties. A large sawmill was built west of the city of Georgetown and production began. In 1903, the company was incorporated with a capital of one million dollars.

The mill was expanded through the years, and included three separate sawmills, two shipping wharves, several warehouses, and numerous other buildings, including workers' houses, stores, a hotel, a church, etc. The company owned all of these buildings, making the area immediately surrounding the mill a veritable "company town", (see photo below). In 1913, a disastrous fire destroyed two of the sawmills. A new steel and concrete mill was erected within ten months. At peak production, the company could produce 600,000 board feet of lumber per day and was properly proclaimed "the largest lumber manufacturing plant on the Atlantic Coast." Due to the effects of the Great Depression, the plant was closed in 1932.

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A vignette from the letterhead of the company's stationery which shows the mill, the shipping wharf, and the company's "town" behind the mill.

Copyright 1990, 1999 by Tony Chibbaro. Part of the text above was excerpted from South Carolina Tokens, by Tony Chibbaro, published by the Token and Medal Society in 1990. If you are interested in purchasing the reference work from which the above was excerpted, please click on the following link: Books.

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If you collect or have a casual interest in South Carolina tokens or tokens issued by cotton mills, lumber companies, or other types of businesses, you may want to purchase my book, South Carolina Tokens and its two supplements. To read a description of these standard references, please click on this link: Books.

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Email: chibbaro@mindspring.com