Tokens of Guatemala

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United Fruit Company

from the Finca San Rodolfo collection
from the Finca San Rodolfo collection

Tokens in Latin America served the same purpose as company scrip in the coal mining areas of Appalachia. By paying workers in tokens instead of regular cash, employers could force workers to spend money at company stores rather than with ordinary merchants. Workers were thus made even more dependent on the employer, and opened another avenue for exploitation. The United Fruit Company (Rulau number Gma 331 shown here) had a particularly evil reputation, probably because of its Yanqui ownership. United Fruit is now Dole Foods.

Guatemala Hammonds 1948 clipped.jpg

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Transito Bolivar

from the Finca San Rodolfo collection
from the Finca San Rodolfo collection

The government of Guatemala did not ban the use of tokens in payment of wages until 1925. This is in line with the feudal nature of the Guatemalan economy, where a few landed barons lorded over masses of penniless peasants. .

Finca Santa Ynes

from the Finca San Rodolfo collection
from the Finca San Rodolfo collection

In general, tokens are neglected by collectors and do not fetch prices anywhere near those realized by coins of equivalent rarity. Many tokens are undocumented and their issuers and dates of issues are unknown. .

Finca Sandoval

from the Finca San Rodolfo collection
from the Finca San Rodolfo collection

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Finca San Vincente

from the Finca San Rodolfo collection
from the Finca San Rodolfo collection

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Finca San Andres Osuna

from the Finca San Rodolfo collection

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from the Finca San Rodolfo collection
from the Finca San Rodolfo collection

The hacienda of San Andres Osuna issued a whole series of tokens starting in 1878. Shown here are Rulau numbers Gma 179, Gma 181, Gma 182, all copper or brass.

Justo Rufino Barrios

from the Finca San Rodolfo collection
from the Finca San Rodolfo collection

Justo Rufino Barrios, president of Guatemala 1873-85, issued this silver token in 1884, honoring the first steam locomotive in Guatemala. Silver is a very unusual material for a token, cheapness of manufacture being a primary consideration.

from the Finca San Rodolfo collection
from the Finca San Rodolfo collection

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from the Finca San Rodolfo collection
from the Finca San Rodolfo collection

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Counterstamped centavos of 1871

from the Finca San Rodolfo collection
from the Finca San Rodolfo collection

The 1871 centavo, being produced in large numbers yet unwanted and unused, was a common subject of couterstamping for use as a token. Some, by no means all, are shown here.

Finca El Carmen

from the Finca San Rodolfo collection
from the Finca San Rodolfo collection

This issue seems to be recent, being dated 1968-69. It is printed on a luggage tag and was probably not meant for hard use.

from the Finca San Rodolfo collection

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Ferrocarril Urbano

from the Finca San Rodolfo collection
from the Finca San Rodolfo collection

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Finca La Esperanza

from the Finca San Rodolfo collection
from the Finca San Rodolfo collection

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Finca Las Mercedes

from the Finca San Rodolfo collection
from the Finca San Rodolfo collection

Shown here are Rulau numbers Gma 225 and Gma 227, both in aluminum. The petal-shaped token in unlisted in Rulau.

Indianapolis Divertilandia

from the Finca San Rodolfo collection
from the Finca San Rodolfo collection

Not all tokens were issued in payment of wages. This one seems to be a gaming or arcade token. Divertilandia can be translated as "Funland," and one imagines a shooting gallery, a miniature golf course or carnival rides. This writer is advised by the owner of the Finca San Rodolfo collection that Divertilandia was and is a gaming arcade in Guatemala City and that he wasted many hours of his youth there.

Finca La Florida

from the Finca San Rodolfo collection
from the Finca San Rodolfo collection

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Finca El Tambor (Hawley & Herederos)

from the Finca San Rodolfo collection
from the Finca San Rodolfo collection

This series (Rulau numbers Smc 3, Smc 5, Smc 6) was issued in brass, aluminum and copper. Aluminum did not become cheap enough for use in tokens until the 1890's.

Other, unsorted tokens

from the Finca San Rodolfo collection
from the Finca San Rodolfo collection
from the Finca San Rodolfo collection

Source:

  • Rulau, Russell, Latin American Tokens, 2nd Ed., Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2000.

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