Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Prince Edward Island Numismatic Association

c/o 10 Edinburgh Drive, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island C1A 3E8


Club Web Site:


Newsletter of the Prince Edward Island Numismatic Association [Vol 2 No 7] October 2001 _____________________________________________________________________________

Notice of Special October Meeting

The next meeting of the Association will take place at the historic 1864 Farmers' Bank of Rustico in South Rustico, P.E.I., on Monday, October 15, at 7:30 p.m. There is ample parking in the area between the Bank building and the Lions Club. The Bank doors will open at about 6:30 p.m. for those people setting up displays.

On the Agenda

On our agenda is an informal numismatic evening with the Friends of the Farmers' Bank, at which time we will formally present to the Museum a collection of coins, tokens and banknotes. A number of members's displays will also be available for inspection, as well as a case containing the collection for the Bank. Thanks are extended to all who have reviewed their collections and have agreed to part with a few pieces.

The collection we are giving to the Friends includes those items of numismatic history which would have circulated in the communities served by the old Bank during the years it was in business.

This Bank, which operated from 1864 to 1894, has recently been restored and operates as a national historic site with a community museum, a restored banking office, and community meeting rooms. During the tour for APNA delegates in May it was noticed that the Bank collection was lacking original pieces, and we are happy to make this contribution to the Friends of the Farmers' Bank as they work to expand their collection of artifacts and tell the story of the Bank and its community.

On the programme will be a short presentation on the Peter McCausland penny of Rustico Island, a display of 19th century Maritime merchant tokens and a lovely collection of Canadian large cents. We will also have a chance to see examples of notes issued in the 19th century by the Farmers' Bank of Rustico. We'll aim too at having a few coin videos, if such are available. Our evening will also include sandwiches and sweets and lots of informal talk.

Please remember to wear your club badge to this special club event.

Yarmouth A.P.N.A.

A reminder, that the Atlantic Provinces Numismatic Association autumn meeting is being held on Friday and Saturday, October 12 and 13, at Rodd's Grand Hotel in Yarmouth, organized by the Sou'Wester Coin Club. If you think you are going, book your room (special rates available, just mention the APNA) at 1-800-565-7633.

The weekend begins with the APNA Executive meeting at 6:30 pm with the first public event being the opening reception at 7:30 p.m. in the Digby West room. At this time the show medal will be officially "launched" by the organizers!

Saturday sees a considerable number of events, including breakfast at 7 a.m., opening of the bourse and displays at 9 a.m., the APNA luncheon meeting at noon and a tour to the Cape Forchu Light Station leaving at 1:30 pm. The bourse closes at 4:30 pm and the closing banquet begins at the hotel at 6:30 p.m..

Medals for the show are available by mail; check the latest APNA newsletter or see the PEINA president for a copy of the order form.

Book Review:

An Ethnographic Study of Traditional Money: a definition of money and descriptions of traditional money, by Charles L. Opitz., 1847 SW 27th Avenue, Ocala, Florida 34474 USA. 411 pages, hard cover, published 2000. $80 USD plus shipping. Review by George Manz.

Charles J. Opitz has been collections traditional money for 43 years. Besides being the president of the International Primitive Money Society, Opitz is a truly remarkable researcher and author.

When I first began collecting traditional money, I kept seeing references to Charles Opitz everywhere I looked. So I started to read some of his works, which are now considered the standard references in this specialized field of numismatics.

But his latest work ranks as the most complete reference of the subject. It's virtually an encyclopaedia for almost every kind of odd and curious money imaginable. That's because the author took 26 years to do the research for this book, reading over 600 books in the process.

His new book begins with a brief but interesting discussion of the different definitions of what constitutes money. Then, for the next 400 pages, the author lists hundreds of different kinds of traditional money, many that I didn't even know existed. Opitz's 8 by 11 inch book is jam-packed with useful information.

Among the more interesting stories is the history of Yap stone money. Opitz says that the chief would give permission to young men to paddle to Palau, in open canoes across inhospitable open ocean, in order to carve and bring back money made from argonite, a rock with a hardness similar to granite. The young men, Opitz notes, produced many different sized Yap stones - from "two or three inches in diameter to about 12 feet in diameter."

Opitz purchased his 23-inch Yap stone in 1965. That was the year their government made it illegal to export these stones from Yap. A letter from a Yap district administrator states: "At long last we have succeeded in getting your piece of stone money. It has been cleared and charges for shipping ascertained. I say 'cleared' because the local Yapese government has ruled against selling or shipping ant more stone money. Your stone money and one (six feet) for the First National Bank of Sweden will probably be the last allowed out of Yap."

The largest stone money outside Yap is seven and a half feet and weighs 6,000 pounds. In 1974, it was purchased by the Bank of Canada's National Numismatic Collection for $11,000. When I was at the Canadian Numismatic Association convention in Ottawa last summer, I was fortunate to see the largest stone money to ever leave the island.

This book covers it all, from Chinese knife money from 500 BC to 23 AD to twentieth century cigarette money. Opitz notes that immediately after World War II, an apartment rented for two packs of cigarettes a month in Vienna, Austria. Meanwhile in Indonesia, during that country's war of independence, "cigarettes were currency, and newspaper ads listed prices in cigarettes."

Closer to home, Opitz discusses the use of beaver skins as money in North America. He notes that from "1774 to 1784, the Legislature of the State of Franklin (now part of Tennessee) by law set the salary of the County Clerk as 300 beaver skins per annum."

A wide assortment of items have been used as money over the years: from shells, feathers and beads to arrows, axes, spears and guns.

Charles Opitz's account of cartridge money, used in Ethiopia from the 1800s to the 1930s, recalls how bullets were a much sought after form of money. "Both loaded and spent cartridges were used as money. The unit of measure was four cartridges, which was worth a cake of salt. Four cakes of salt were worth a Maria Theresa dollar. In the old days, travellers frequently came upon warriors armed with spears but carrying bags of cartridges from the popular Gras rifle."

Opitz writes that in 1908, "in an effort to promote the use of coins as money, a fine of $1 per cartridge was decreed if anyone was caught using cartridges as money." But by the beginning of World War I, the rifle cartridges were still "the most popular form of money, even more popular than salt."

Not only is his book informative, but this opus contains over 1,200 photographs, including 150 in full colour. Almost all of the pictures in this book are from Optiz's enormous collection.

The five-pound book includes not only a massive bibliography and index, but also a separate price list as well.

I highly recommend his latest work.

Our guest reviewer George Manz writes for numismatic publications in Great Britain, the United States and Canada. His article "Britain's Cartwheel Coinage" appeared in the latest Journal of the C.N.A. He is president of George Manz Coins, specializing in Canadian, Newfoundland, U.S. and world coins, as well as medals, tokens, numismatic books and off and curious money. His free lists are available (specify which lists you want) from Box 3626, Regina, Saskatchewan, S4P 3L7. Email: His website address is

What is money?

The Opitz book which is reviewed, above, by George Manz raises some interesting questions regarding what is money. I'll bring my copy along to the November meeting in case anyone wants to have a browse.

I have heard it said that not everything produced by the Mint is money, and that some of our money "doesn't look like money". This begs the question: just what, exactly, is money supposed to look like? Does shape, colour and design help to make an object acceptable as money?

Most introductory economics texts will state that money can be defined by its three main functions: a medium of exchange, a measure of value, and a store of value. Money helps us to buy and sell, providing a common item to be exchanged and means of facilitating a transaction. By measure of value we mean that we can place a price on most things, which makes it possible to buy and sell them. And, should we decide not to buy, we can "save" our purchasing power simply by keeping the money in our pocket, bank account or sock!

Further, money should have a number of characteristics to distinguish it from money-like objects (Canadian Tire Corporation coupons, for example). To be accepted as money, in other words to serve as a medium of exchange [as in "I'll exchange this coloured printed paper with you for a tank of gasoline"] the object must be generally accepted, portable, divisible [you can make change for one of those coloured pieces of paper], hard to duplicate or counterfeit, and uniform in value [a dollar here is worth the same as a dollar in Vancouver, or Hunter River]. Some folks might also add that its intrinsic value should not exceed its face value. A 25 cent silver piece should not be worth 28 cents for its silver content. When that happens, the silver quarters disappear. As the expression has it, "bad money drives out good". The increased price of precious metals in the 20th century has seen gold and silver disappear from coins in daily circulation.

Keeping this in mind, it is worth noting that Canadian numismatic history offers many examples of coins and notes which do not meet all the above criteria. In New France, not everyone wanted to accept cut up playing cards as money, but they had no choice. Government wanted it to be accepted as money, they therefore declared it to be money, and so it became money, "fiat money" as the economists call it. ["Fiat" is Latin for, roughly, "let it be".] In British North America, after haggling about the cost of a purchase in the marketplace, the buyer and seller often haggled over the hodge-podge of coins and tokens offered in payment. Some were acceptable, others were rejected as fakes, or underweight ["too thin"] or simply not recognized and therefore not wanted as payment. Today, many collectors shun the "non-circulating legal tender" produced by the Mint to recognize or honour people and events in our history or to mark special anniversaries or occasions. Are the Olympic coins really money? If not, what are they?

One of the pleasures of numismatics as a hobby is the wonderful curiosity one finds in one's fellow collectors. Some collectors I know are walking historical reference books, while others can recite the ups and down of the coin market, complete with references to condition and "key dates", with as much dollars and cents detail as a broker following the stock market. Some collect those things that others shun, and are proud owners of fine, extensive collections of Olympic coins issued by many different countries.

The hobby of "coin collecting" gives us much to explore. Collectors collect not only the object, but the story behind the object as well. By way of a recent example, look at Earl Salterio's article in the recent APNA newsletter "The Atlantic Numismatist" on the Hudson medal. That's a great piece of research, a wonderful story, and puts the medal in a wholly understandable, human context. Numismatists cast a very wide net indeed. It would be very dull if it were otherwise.

PEINA Newsletter

The newsletter is always looking for contributions and yours would be much appreciated.

Mouldy News?

Seems we missed a local news item this past summer, although a number of people reported at our September meeting that they had heard about it. Thanks to the Pros and Coins newsletter of the Halifax Coin Club, we can include for the record the story of a recent acquisition by the O'Leary Potato Museum. Seems that in "hard times", some gentlemen "up west" decided to give the Royal Canadian Mint a run for its money and began to produce homemade half dollars. The moulds were recently found, and Dr George Dewer has acquired them for the O'Leary Museum.


Our next PEINA gathering takes place on Monday, October 15, at the Farmers, Bank of Rustico. We are still looking for one or two tokens to add to the collection being given to the Bank. In particular, I'd like to have a New Brunswick "ship" token, and a Nova Scotia "flowers" token. Does anyone have one to spare? A "type" example would be fine and the coin has only to be presentable, in VG or F.

To date we have a mixed collection of Canadian, P.E.I., British, French, and American coins and tokens. Some are in F and VF but we have worn, "thin", holed, and generally well-used samples of the kind of money that would have seen use in the Rustico area in the second half of the nineteenth century. We also have an 1870 25 cent "shinplaster".

We look forward to seeing you on the 15 in South Rustico.