How did the Wooden Nickel become part of U.S. history?
Many of us have heard about or seen wooden nickels before. Maybe it was from a grandparent who used the well-known old-time phrase "Don't take any wooden nickels!" or that drink token you received at your local bar for a free mug of beer! Whether you've known about them or not, they have played a unique role in the history of the United States!
The first issuing of wooden currency belongs to Tenino, Washington. When the only bank in Tenino failed, the Chamber of Commerce turned to paper-thin pieces of wood and marked them in denominations of $10, $5, $1, and 25 cents. All the local businesses accepted the new wooden currency, but it quickly became a collector's item when people from out of town brought the wooden pieces home with them.
In 1933, Blaine, Washington issued the first wooden nickels as a real currency when their bank failed during the Great Depression. Many of the coins were marked with an expiration date to prevent inflation. Many other towns throughout the Pacific Northwest followed along after the issuing of wooden nickels as currency in Blaine, Washington.
Blaine soon became known for its unique solution to a lack of money. Despite its uniqueness, wood never took off as a currency material, and the U.S. Congress outlawed wooden currency just a few years later. The popularity of wooden coins as tokens, souvenirs, and promotional products continues to this day.
In 1933, The Century of Progress in Chicago was the first to use wooden money as souvenirs. The coins varied in sizes from as small as a silver dollar to as large as 3 inches in diameter.
In 1934 wooden nickels were popularly used in a unique combination of advertising and souvenirs for civic celebrations. Binghamton, NY, was one of the first places to use this concept. Wood resumed supplementing civic celebrations such as centennials throughout the mid-1930s.
In the present day, wooden nickels are a unique way to advertise for a business, commemorate a special event, or be used as souvenirs.
Popular uses of wooden nickels include:
Drink Tokens at Bars
And so much more!
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