Frequently Asked Questions

compiled and answered by Monte C. Dean (R-384)

Q #1: How valuable are sales tax tokens?

A: The most that a single sales tax token has sold for was over $500 for a unique National Sales Tax “milk cap” (stamped on a round pressed paper that looks like a milk cap). There are some others that have sold for $300 or more. It is not uncommon to see rare or very scarce items sell in the $100+ range. The vast majorities of sales tax tokens, however, are extremely common and are only worth a few cents each. Those that are most commonly found, the state issues, are the least likely to have much value. Please see the tab “Price Guide” above for more details on values of state issued sales tax tokens.

Q #2: How much are my sales tax tokens worth?

A: Above you will see a tab for “Price Guide”. Before you write and ask about your specific token(s), please review this page, as it’s pretty likely going to answer your questions. If not, you can give us information about what you have, and it is likely that we can give you an idea as to value. Please remember that the more information you provide, the more likely it is that we can help you specifically. In other words, if you say you have 56 Colorado sales tax tokens and that is the only information you provide, it is likely that you will receive a reply indicating that all 56 tokens probably have a value of no more than $3 or $4 for the whole lot. Although there are some extremely rare Colorado sales tax token patterns and scrip worth over $200 each, unless you give us details, we won’t know if you have one of those valuable rarities.

Q #3: When and where were sales tax tokens produced and used?

A: The first sales tax tokens ever produced were manufactured for the town of Kewanee, Illinois and began distribution in April of 1933. There were a number of merchants, towns, and counties in Illinois that also issued their own sales tax tokens, both in metal and in scrip (paper or cardboard) soon after.

In all, 15 different states eventually produced some type of medium of exchange, either token, stamp, or punch card, to help pay for and account for the sales taxes collected. States that used a circulating token of some kind included Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Washington. Washington State also produced two types of small scrip issues in addition to their token types.

Additionally, the state of California did produce a pattern sales tax token, but only one is known to exist and there were never any state-issued tokens that actually circulated.

Kentucky did have a very brief period of state-issued paper sales tax receipts beginning in July 1, 1936. Although these were state-issued, they were more in the form of a small paper 31 X 31 mm. paper “stamp”, as opposed to an actual “token”.

Ohio also produced an amazing assortment of state-issued punch cards for sales tax collection beginning in 1936 with hundreds of different sales tax stamps printed all the way up until December 31, 1961. So if you only count “tokens” there were twelve states that issued sales tax tokens. Plus one, California, that only has a pattern known, plus Ohio and Kentucky that produced some form of paper scrip but not actually any “tokens”.

Missouri was the last state to demonetize their sales tax tokens on December 31, 1961.

In addition to the state issued tokens there were hundreds of different merchants, cities, towns, and counties that also made some form of token or scrip to help collect the sales tax. Just a few of the states that made use of such private or provisional sales tax tokens or scrip included California (in addition to the known state issued pattern), Colorado (in addition to the state issues), Illinois (in addition to the state issues), Iowa, Kentucky (in addition to the state issues), Michigan, Mississippi (in addition to the state issues), North Carolina, Ohio (in addition to the state issues), Pennsylvania, Washington (in addition to the state issues), and West Virginia.

Additionally, sales tax token collectors avidly pursue anti-sales tax pin back buttons, bumper stickers, anti-sales tax tokens, and a number of other items that were produced especially against sales tax or sales tax tokens. There is a long list of states that had someone produce something that was against sales tax and these are as readily sought as the sales tax tokens themselves. Such items appeared in Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin.

In short, there is something from most of the states that will intrigue a sales tax “token” collector beyond just the “common” state issues.

Q #4: Why were sales tax tokens made?

A: The great depression, which began after the stock market crash on “Black Tuesday”, October 29, 1929, launched the United States and the world into the darkest economic times in modern history. Since the vast majority of the income for most states relied on property (ad valoram) tax the number of people who could no longer pay their property taxes skyrocketed. Rampant unemployment, loss of income, loss of savings, and a general “depression” of all parts of the economic picture affected every layer of society. Unemployment rose to 25% in the U. S., international trade was cut in half, construction was halted to near zero, crop prices dropped to less than half of what they had been, mining and logging were virtually eliminated and all types of manufacturing industries were much reduced.

As the number of people and businesses who could no longer pay their property taxes increased and the number of those properties that were forced to be foreclosed upon or seized by some government entity, the states incomes to pay their own bills plummeted. Soon, many states were looking at the possibility of their own bankruptcy.

There were many attempts made during the next few years to try and find some means of tax increase that would be accepted by the public and proclaimed law within the legislations of those states. Many types of excise tax were attempted, but produced only minimum returns for the states, while the states themselves tried valiantly to reduce their own expenditures, to no avail.

Although some form of sales tax had been established in West Virginia in 1921, and a similar plan begun in Georgia in 1929, those beginning attempts at a sales tax were poorly implemented, ineffectively collected and little appreciated because of their failure to collect significant funds.

When the new sales taxes began to be implemented in the early 1930’s in an attempt to gain some ground for the states financing, those new legislations were similar to or the same as what we consider a sales tax today. Previous attempts at Taxable Transfers, Graduated Gross Sales Tax, Chain Store Taxes, Consumption Taxes, Gross Receipts Tax, Gross Sales Tax, Luxury Tax, Mercantile Tax, Service Tax, Turnover Tax and Value Added Tax were all types of taxes that were similar to the modern day Direct Sales Tax, but not really the same either in the implementation or the collection methods.

It was soon apparent to those states that began this “new modern” sales tax that the income from that source would greatly improve the state’s financial position. In some cases, such as in Mississippi, they went from a near bankrupt state to a surplus of funds in just a few years, primarily due to the collection of sales tax.

Within a very short period of time many states recognized just how wonderful the idea of sales tax was, although none of the states that adopted sales tax had an easy time of making that system into law. Many states quickly added themselves to an ever growing list of those that used a sales tax system to collect a significant part of the state’s income.

The single major detraction against the sales tax - repeated ad nauseum by the opponents of sales tax - was that it was and is a regressive tax. A regressive tax means that the poor pay a higher percentage of their income compared to the rich. Someone making a small income will use almost all of that money to buy needed supplies, clothing, food, and housing. While someone who makes more money will use a much smaller percentage of their income for those same basic necessity purposes.

Since those fundamental living expenses are the ones most likely to have a sales tax, the poor then pay a larger percentage of their income to that sales tax than would a rich person who uses a much smaller percentage of their overall income for such basic needs. In order to get legislation passed in many states, a “bribe” was usually given (usually to the democrats by the republicans) to “allow” certain exemptions. An exemption was a type or quantity of product or a price level where the sales tax would not be collected. Exemptions ranged from those that made good sense, such as exempting food, or inexpensive clothing, or medicine all the way to some extremely limited exemptions for such things as beer and wine, tobacco, or even certain meat products but not others. Exemptions were also set for minimum amounts required in order to meet the limitation for sales tax. Some states did not charge sales tax for amounts below a set cent limitation. A state might not charge sales tax on individual purchases of less than 20 cents, for example.

In addition to exemptions, the production and use of sales tax tokens were more of a political compromise, rather than being strictly for the benefit of the poor. Almost all history relating to this period when sales tax tokens were implemented points to the fact that their use was really promulgated for political purposes.

The reason given by most prior historical summaries regarding why sales tax tokens came into use prescribe to the belief that the motivation for those tokens was strictly as a benefit for the poor. Although, in practice, this was certainly true, a review of the actual legislative and government actions during the sessions prior to sales tax enactment and implementation often point to the sales tax token as a means of quieting those who proclaimed the unfairness of such a regressive tax.

The primary purpose espoused for the sales tax token during their initial introduction was that it allowed for the collection of the correct percentage of the assigned sales tax. In other words, if a customer went into a store to purchase a 6 cent item, and the sales tax percentage then in effect was 3%, the actual sales tax due on that 6 cent purchase would have been .18 of a cent, or 1 and 4/5th Mill. If there were no fractional cent devices available for use, the customer would need to pay a full penny for their 6 cent purchase, making the actual percentage that they paid nearly 17% instead of the required 3%.

To avoid this unfair situation almost every state set a minimum limit for when the sales tax started. Some states legislated that all purchases below 10 cents, or 15 cents or some other figure, were exempt from sales tax. But some states claimed that the sales tax was due on every purchase, even for a single penny.

To alleviate this iniquitous imbalance of percentage payment states began issuing sales tax tokens worth some part, or fraction, of one cent. Most states used a 1 Mill (1/10th Cent) and/or 5 Mill (1/2 Cent) system, although there were other fractions of a cent sales tax token denominations produced. Usually the denominations for each states sales tax tokens were set according to that states percentage of sales tax due as well as the minimum payment exemption.

Q #5: What is a Mill?

A: A Mill is a monetary denomination with a value of 1/10th cent. 5 Mills would be equal to ½ cent. It would take 1000 Mills to be equal to one-dollar. Sales tax tokens are most commonly found in the denominations of 1 and 5 mills, although some states used other odd denominations depending on their sales tax rate. Both Colorado and Utah used a 2 Mill tokens and Illinois’ only state issues were of the 1 ½ Mill denomination, as examples.

Q #6: What is scrip? Is this a misspelling for script?

A: Scrip is the correct spelling for a token or currency most commonly made of paper or cardboard, although other materials such as wood have been used. In short, scrip is simply a token that does not look like a token (circular, square, octagonal, oblong, or other possible shapes) and is not made of metal. For sales tax scrip this usually means a rectangular or square piece of paper or cardboard that has a denominational value or trade value that has at least part of its worth for the payment of sales tax. For a full 9 page explanation on what sales tax scrip is, see the American Tax Token Society Newsletter issue number 158, V. 42 #3 of July-September, 2012, which may be purchased from our treasurer, listed under the “Contact” Tab above. If you become a member of the ATTS ($12/year), Jim would probably send you that issue for FREE, too, if you requested one.

Q #7: I see some listing with letters and numbers like R-3 or R-5 or R-7. What does that mean?

A: These are called rarity ratings, which simply mean that whoever is assigning those rarity estimates is basing that rarity on their own experience. In most instances, when a book is published with rarity ratings, you can rest assured that the majority of those ratings will be accurate, or nearly so.

Almost all token collectors and dealers, including those for sales tax tokens, use the same methodology for token rarity estimates as follows:

R-1 More than 5000 known to exist. Extremely Common
R-2 2001-5000 known to exist. Very Common
R-3 501-2000 known to exist. Common
R-4 101-500 known to exist. Scarce
R-5 51-100 known to exist. Very Scarce
R-6 21-50 known to exist. Extremely Scarce
R-7 11-20 known to exist. Rare
R-8 5-10 known to exist. Very Rare
R-9 2-4 known to exist. Extremely Rare
R-10 Only one known to exist Unique

Q #8: Are sales tax tokens rare?

A: No. As a group they are not because the most common ones found today will be state issued tokens made in the tens of millions for each kind. However, in the last catalogue made about sales tax tokens, “United States Sales Tax Tokens and Stamp: A History and Catalog” by Merlin K. Malehorn and Tim Davenport in 1993 (commonly referred to as the M&D for the two authors last name initials) it is interesting to note how many seriously rare items are listed. That catalogue lists 1248 different items, of which 1/3+ (467) were either R-10 (Unique, only one known to exist) or R-9 (2 to 4 examples known to exist). Although the common state issues will always be common, there is a plethora of very scarce and rare issues, too.

Q #9: What is a type or a variety?

A: A type is a token that is obviously different, one from another. For example, a state might have issued several “types” of fiber composition tokens. To determine if the token is a different type, one from another, it must be obvious to the eye that there is a significant difference. A variety, on the other hand, usually requires some measurement to determine the difference, one from the other. There might be a slight difference in the color, or a difference in the distance of one line of text to another or the style of the text used, or any other number of small differences that determines one variety from another. In short – a type has a more immediate recognizable difference, one from another than does a variety of a type.

Q #10: Can I complete a full set of sales tax tokens?

A: It is certainly possible to complete a full set of the state issued types, with some diligence, within 2 or 3 years. Especially if you make contact with older members of the ATTS who will be helpful in selling (or even giving) you tokens that you need for cheap prices. If you are only interested in completing a Type Set of state issued sales tax tokens that set is slightly more than 150 pieces. If you decide to complete a variety set, too, then you would need slightly more than 300 different state issued sales tax tokens for a full variety set.

It would be absolutely impossible to collect a full set of all of the state issues, plus the different scrip, plus the known related memorabilia, which now numbers over 2000 pieces. If you were to add the Ohio sales tax punch cards and stamps into the equation, then you would be looking at well over 3000 pieces. Since a great number of those items are Very Rare, Extremely Rare, or Unique no one person could ever be at the right place at the right time to get all of those, regardless of the time spent or the money available. Prying an R-10 or R-9 item out of many collectors’ hands is beyond difficult, regardless of the monetary offer. To get one of each of them would likewise be impossible.

Q #11: I have the M&D (see question #8 above), but I can’t find the token I have listed anywhere?

A: Since the M&D was issued some 20 years ago, there have been hundreds of new finds reported. It is possible that what you have is one of those items, or you may have another brand new unlisted token. The best way for us to help you is for you to list the details about your find above under the “Classified” Tab and you should certainly receive specific answers provided that you do give us good details. If you have a rarity, it is also likely that you will get a few offers for such an item if you do want to sell.

Q #12: Where can I purchase sales tax tokens?

A: RIGHT HERE!!! If you are in need of specific tokens just list them above under the “Wanted” Tab. You will also find that those individuals listed above under the “Contact” Tab will probably be more than happy to help you find most common or scarce items. By becoming a member of the ATTS (American Tax Token Society - $12/year – “Join” Tab above) you can get in contact with all of the most prolific dealers and collectors in this genre.

Your next best bet is eBay, of course, and you can certainly find lots of common sales tax tokens listed there every day. But if you want to find the tougher items, you will find a membership with the ATTS to be most helpful.

Q #13: Where can I sell my sales tax tokens?

A: RIGHT HERE!!! If you have common sales tax tokens there are a number of us who buy big bags of those simply so we can search for tougher minor varieties. Don’t expect too much in the way of monetary gain for such common bags, as they are usually only worth a few cents per piece when bought in big random bags. Or, if you have a scarce or rare piece, list it above under the “For Sale” Tab and you may be pleasantly surprised by the offers you receive. If nothing else, you can list your tokens on eBay, but then you have to pay the eBay Fees and the Pay Pal fees. Try here first and you might end up with a little more money in your pocket afterwards.

Q #14: I am interested in giving a history lesson that includes the information about sales tax tokens to my Boy Scout troop or class or history group or other group. Where could I get tokens to show for that purpose?

A: RIGHT HERE!!! There are a number of us who have thousands or tens of thousands of common sales tax token duplicates. If you were to post a request above on the “Classified” Tab, you would certainly be contacted by someone as long as you supply an email address, and I don’t doubt that if you need 100 or less examples you could probably get them for free, or the postage costs, or at least very cheaply. We would also be more than happy to help answer any questions you might have about your presentation or any facts about sales tax tokens that you might be looking for.

Additionally, we would LOVE to see your report on your presentation, along with photographs and we would even consider publishing your report in our American Tax Token Society Newsletter. If you needed help putting such an article together, we would be happy to assist you. If you would like to contact our editor, Mike Strub, about that possibility, see the “Contact” Tab above.

Q #15: I have a pin back button, bumper sticker, bank brochure, merchant sign, state issued sign, state issued rules and regulations booklet, original photograph, cash register display sign, or any other type of item that lists SALES TAX but it is not a token. Is it worth anything?

A: If the item has the magic words “Sales Tax” on it, then it is probably of interest to some of us. It is important to remember that in some cases states had transportation taxes or excise taxes or entertainment taxes that LOOK similar to sales tax, but are not actually sales tax. The best way to find out is to simply post a description and/or picture above on the “Classified” Tab if you are not sure of the item you have, or the “For Sale” Tab above if you know what you want to sell the item for. Some Pin Back Buttons have sold for over $100, and many of the other items that are not tokens but say sales tax on them might be pretty valuable too.

Q #16: Is the condition of the sales tax token important?

A: As is true for every kind of collectible item, the condition will always help determine the value of any collectible. This is also true of sales tax tokens, scrip and related memorabilia. In some cases, as for the more common state issued sales tax tokens, or the modestly scarce, the condition will make a huge difference as to the value, or even for it to be worth collecting. A common sales tax token, of which there are probably millions left in existence somewhere, is really only collectible if it is uncirculated grade, or nearly so, with no problems of any kind. That token might be worth $1 if it is really perfect and a collector needs it. That same token in terrible condition is virtually worthless.

By the same “token” (sorry, I had to say it at least once), super rare pieces might not have as much difference in value according to condition as long as those pieces remain rare with no additional examples discovered. For example, the only known California state issued pattern, mentioned above, is in absolutely horrid icky condition, but because it is the only one known, it is still worth $300 minimum. If it was still the only one known, but in a very nice grade, say Almost Uncirculated, I have no doubt that it would be worth closer to the $500 mark.

Even if the item is extremely rare, or even unique, there are some collectors who simply have no interest in putting an “icky” example of anything in their collection. Our president, John Ostendorf, is such a collector. From years of collecting experience he knows that even if an item is exceedingly rare it will find fewer interested buyers if it is ever offered for sale if it is not in presentable condition.

Q #17: I’m new to collecting sales tax tokens. What should I do as a beginning collector?

A: WELCOME – we seriously love new collectors, as you can often teach us things we have forgotten. As you’ve probably figured out by reading some of the information on this site, we are generally pretty kicked back and consider FUN to be at least as valuable as the tokens we own. There are a few things you can do that will make your introduction to our fraternity more enjoyable and rewarding:

1. Buy the book. At present, as listed above in question #8, the “M&D” is the book to own and you can usually find one on eBay for about $40. If not, ask us, on the “Classified” Tab above and one of us can surely point you in the right direction to find that book.

2. Ask for a mentor. There are a number of us that sincerely enjoy helping someone learn our hobby and will correspond with you as frequently as time allows via telephone, email, or even plain old snail mail. Again, on the “Classified” Tab above, ask for a mentor. This is not an “I’m the big dude so you have to listen to me,” kind of thing. Mentors, if they do their job, will have just as much fun as you do with the exchanges involved.

3. Join the American Tax Token Society. See the “Join” Tab above. For the ridiculously cheap price of $12 per year you get four fantastic issues of our Newsletter, a free printed classified ad in each and every issue you want to post in, membership here on our website and direct contact with the most knowledgeable collectors today.

4. Make a want list. List what you are going after so that you have a ready inventory of what you need and what you have. If you start out your collecting venture this way, you will always be happier in the future as your collection becomes stronger. Ask your mentor, or post here, if you need help making that want list and we will be happy to answer your specific questions. Starting with the state issued tokens is always the easiest and most fun since most of them are so readily available.

5. Ask for help. If you are uncertain about anything as you begin collecting we will be happy to attempt to answer any questions you might have, again, under the “Classified” tab above, or through your mentor. Quite often new collectors will ask questions that we don’t know the full answer to and that can often lead to that “new” collector finding out information that none of us knew before. It is especially fun, even for a “new” collector to find out great information, or discover new pictures and have their article appear in our Newsletter.

Q #18: I have an idea for writing an article for the Newsletter, but I don’t know if the information I’m thinking of writing about has already been examined before. What should I do?

A: Ask Us!!! We absolutely super-love new authors! They often lead us to new knowledge simply because those new authors find a new approach to discovering the answer to a question. Mike Strub, our Editor, listed above under the “Contact” Tab, is the man to approach with your idea about an article. He can best determine if what you are considering will make a good article and probably give you helpful advice on what to do to make it great. You can rest assured that Mike has great experience in helping authors present their information in a professional and concise manner.

Q #19: I have a lot of duplicates of some of the sales tax tokens in my collection. Does anyone trade?

A: Oh, yes. Many of the folks in our fraternity absolutely love to trade and some of us have been doing so for decades. If you have any duplicates of R-5 to R-9 (See question #7 above) you can post those to the “For Sale” Tab above, asking for trades rather than cash and list what you have and what you are looking for. Jim Calvert, (See “Contact” Tab above) our secretary/treasurer, has the largest stock of duplicate scarce and rare pieces on planet earth and he would be the first individual to contact. You can rest assured that if you have anything one of the “old timers” needs for his own collection that they would probably trade many times the actual “cash value” of items in their own duplicate stock for something they need themselves.

Q #20: I’ve found an error on something that you have presented here. Who do I contact to get it corrected?

A: Above under the “Contact” Tab, find Loran Frazier, our Webmaster’s email address and let him know. He will determine if there is a change required, or he may contact some of the board members to help make that determination. Rest assured, however, that none of us believe everything we right (or, perhaps, write) is always perfect and we are always interested in standing corrected if such is necessary.

23 thoughts on “FAQ

  1. Mike Chandler

    Novus folks would like a reference listed. Isn’t it a function of the ATTS to provide a listing of such materials for EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY, possibly with a brief comment mentioning something about the content, and let the newby pick and choose — and of course, pick and choose from their favorite retailer (not the ATTS). Not everyone has access to the ANA Library. It would be something that perhaps the Board might consider.

  2. Monte

    The best source for a complete listing of books and artilces about STTs, including the many single monographs produced during the 1970’s and 1980’s, would be the complete ATTS Library listings. The ATTS Library was donated to the ANA Library many years ago, so you would need to find that listing prior to that 1991 event. At least I believe it was that date, without digging up the details. There will also be a complete listing of all of those items and articles in the next and last book in the four book series, but I don’t believe that will be finished until the end of this year, at the earliest. However, the vast majority of all of that information can be found in great detail in the second book in the series: Sales Tax Tokens and Scrip: Histories. That book is 891 pages with over one-million words and puts everything in a state by state reference format in chronological order. I have a few copies of that book left for sale.

  3. Mike Chandler

    For individuals interested in Sales Tax Tokens, whether paper, cardboard, fiber, wood or metallic, et al; about a page dedicated to the listing of Reference Materials, separated into General Topics or Specific to a Particular State. The “M&D” book would be under the “General Topics” tab. Obviously, it wouldn’t be a complete list and a comment to that effect should be posted as well — and folks would be on their own to find a seller. Such a tab would be for “education” and not an endorsement.

  4. Mike Chandler

    I suggest that you get a copy of UNITED STATES SALES TAX TOKENS AND STAMPS by Merlin K Malehorn and Tim Davenport; sometimes referred to as the “M&D” book. { I believe that the latest edition was published in 1993. (If there is a newer edition, someone please let us know!)}. In this book, it states the information that you seek, if and when known. The introduction is quite informative and when the source of the printer and minter of tokens is known, it is with the listing itself.

  5. Reid Kukowski

    Where were the tax tokens make? Was there a specific mint or designated location that produced the tokens? Are there letters, such as (P,D,S), which are on coins stating which mint produces the coin? Any information would be helpful. Thank you for your time and consideration.

    Reid Kukowski

  6. Mike

    ¶ An open letter. In the past few months, I’ve had a miserable time, healthwise. With medication (at the time) with a change in diet, especially the intake of “citric acid” and dropping “tea”, I hope those pesky stones will not return. I apologize for not getting back to those who replied. I wasn’t able and my main focus at the time was getting better with very little activity in the hobby. ¶ I know I’ve been somewhat of a thorn in Monte’s side, but alas, inquiring minds do want to know. There was an offer to copy that elusive disk, but it seems it is copy protected. Perhaps if I can get all of the material at hand, it may become a published work. That is something that will take time. The ultimate focus will be determined by the material itself. At this point, it is a “dream” in progress. Perhaps it will become a “work” in progress. ¶ BTW, if you have any “scans” of metal, plastic or fiber tokens that seem a bit different to you, some may call them errors, I would like to have them. And of course, if you have any tokens that you no longer want nor need, I can give them a good home. ¶ Thank you for your understanding. — Mike — [email protected]

  7. Monte

    Hey Everyone,
    In regards to the ATTSN CD, I see many folks have tried to get an example with no success. I’ve sent Bob the following email, and hopefully he will respond:
    Hey Bob,
    There is a discussion on the ATTS message board at the moment with a number of different members wanting a copy of the ATTSN CD that you made up a couple of years ago.
    Unfortunately, several members are reporting that they’ve paid for the CD and had there checks cashed and never received the CD. One member is even reporting that they have paid you twice for the CD, but have never received it.
    So I just wanted you to know that there are a number of people interested in that CD that are more than willing to pay for an example if you have any left. Perhaps you can respond directly to the thread on the ATTS website.
    The CD is password protected in Adobe and my wife, who does computers for a living, couldn’t get it to copy no matter how many times she tried to do so. So the only way to actually get a copy is from Bob, and maybe he will take the 3 minutes required to respond.

    If not, the only suggestion I can make is to contact Jim Calvert and see how many old issues of the ATTSN he has left and could sell you. I’m sure if you wanted a large number of them, he would sell them for no more than the cost of production and shipping.

    Without the old issues of the ATTSN, you simply will have no way of knowing what has been done before. If you ask me SPECIFIC questions, I can probably answer and at least give you the ATTSN issue information appeared in. The Compendium I issued a few years ago was 248 pages just for the listings of what had appeared in the old ATTSN, so please don’t expect me to be able to be too specific. Again - if you have questions regarding past research on issues - PLEASE BE SPECIFIC with your questions. Asking about “all” error types isn’t going to get you anything, simply because there is too much for me to list. Asking about die cracks on 1 Mill Missouri zincs, however, will get you and exact ATTSN listing.

    Otherwise, you simply have to wait for the next and last book on the STTS series, which will feature a full section on Errors, as well as answers to many questions in regards to production and mintage as well as plastic molds and other such details.

    Or, simply dig through all the tokens you have and enjoy what you discover.

    It sucks to say that if you don’t have the old issues of the ATTSN, and can’t get a CD, that you are not likely to find too much other information without them. But I’m afriad it’s true (for now)!


  8. Mike

    Monte, do you have a copy? Perhaps some duplicates might be made. I know a few folks that would like a copy. It seems that this CD is quite elusive for whatever reason I cannot begin to phantom. It appears that when the subject is approached, it falls upon deaf ears and no reply is offered. BTW, Monte is one of the GREATS in this hobby and this dig is not aimed toward him.

  9. admin Post author

    I’m too quick to be trustingly optimistic, that’s how. But specifically, a $20 bill, followed by a check 6 months later.

  10. Mike

    I would certainly like to obtain a copy of that elusive CD (I’ve already heard that it is difficult to obtain). I could start my basic research from that and then ask specific questions. With a copy of the CD, it would avoid trampling the same ground twice or thrice? I do have a question, how did you (admin) pay for the CD twice? Check through the mail, perhaps? And maybe, someone else needs to be put in charge of handling distribution of that CD? Does anyone have a copy of that CD (a copy could be made from it)? In the meanwhile, does anyone know if an issue has been cancelled, eg, like placing one or more holes in the SST? I know that many have been made into “washers”. I have some where the washer effect is not present.

  11. admin Post author

    Fair warning, if you decide to purchase the CD… I’ve paid for it twice and never received it, so don’t get your hopes up.

  12. Monte

    Before attempting to gather “new” information, which is certainly commendable, I stongly recommend that you purchase the CD with a great many of the earlier ATTS Newsletters, or inquire for back issues from Jim Calvert.

    By doing so, you will have hundreds of articles that you may not be familiar with, and a goodly number of those do deal with information that you are interested in. Although very minor errors, such as die or mold rotation, probably is not something that many people spend considerable time with, you are correct that some people still do. Those back issues will give you a fair sample of what has been done and reported previously.

    Much of the information you seek, although not incuded in the M&D, has been mentioned or entire detailed artilces have been written in the Newsletter. If you seek knowledge, then that source is readily available and would literally give you hundreds of hours or reading and research pleasure in the more esoteric areas of our collecting genre.

  13. Mike

    Inquiring minds spark dialogue. Each of us has their focal point of what they would like in their collection. There are a few points I’d like to see expanded. One never knows what the other collector believes to be important. We’re human. I’d say let the collector determine what is important to them. Should any of the items listed below becomes available, please share it. I’d be willing to accumulate such information. I’m going out on a limb here, but it may be that some of the veteran sales tax token collectors may already have parts of this information. What you decide to send to me, be sure to cite some type of source — documented sources are best. Send to [email protected]. Put ATTS SOURCE INFO PROJECT in the subject line. THANK YOU!

  14. Monted

    My comments in after your note, as follows:

    • Distinguishing the correct color
    <The new STTS; ID & PG will have all colors matched to a 2500 variable three-dimensional chart so that with only a number first (the plate number), a letter second (the column), and a number third (the horizontal row) almost any color can be matched fairly closely, with the ability to alter that point as well. The Color Guide was produced before the colors were assigned in the ID and PG, so everyone will be working with exactly the same colors with no trouble potential because of printing differences. Color designation will also be provided by old fashioned words, but the color coordinate will remove most of the chance of misinterpretation of that verbiage.
    o Plastic or Fiber
    <If you mean how to tell the difference between them, with the exception of the New Mexico plastic/fiber, I can't think of any others than have the same die type, so in most cases it's just a matter of being able to see enough of them to tell the difference. The new guide will also provide average weights in 1/100th of a gram for accuracy, and should be helpful.
    o Age makes a difference

    o Storage
    o Location of the token (Florida vs. Minnesota vs. Maine vs. Kansas)

     Environment can make a difference – humid vs. dry location
    o A basic set with predetermined colors defined.
     Perhaps someone within ATTS would make up some basic sets that would include one of each color. I’d like one!

    • Not knowing whether the token was struck in “coin” or “medal” alignment.
    o I have one token that is 90° off – don’t know if it is from coin or medal alignment
    o Actually, I have dupes – all 90° off. Is this normal?
    • Was the “anvil die” fixed?
    • Making decisions for the collector
    o I quote: “Very few collectors would be served by such detail.”
    o Some of us have inquiring minds. We would like such detail!

    o Yes, we realize that the size of the book would probably be gigantic.
     Perhaps an expanded version would be available only on CD.
     Let the individual print from a CD should they have a desire.
    • Weight in grams for each struck ‘token’.
    • Type of paper, cardboard or ? Do we know if the paper is 20lb bond or a different weight?

    • Did any entity actually “cancel” their issue(s) by placing hole(s) in them?
    • With a lack of information, it is extremely difficult to ascertain whether or not we have a new discovery, regardless how remote that might be.
    • Sad part. Some of this information may be lost forever. Various “States” and their “Political Sub-Divisions” have rules for saving certain documents. Some information is kept in a separate facility that saves documents for “historical” importance; and yes, some is destroyed. The decision is based on the individuals’ concept of the intention of what should be saved.

  15. Mike

    [Apologies from the admin for my delay in letting this get through. Usually I receive a notice when there is a pending post & I must have missed it, this time. ATTS members should not hesitate to email me, if their posts don’t go through in a timely manner. I’m not here to censor opinions or debate, just to keep the hundreds of SPAM messages from being posted and ruining our good time!]

    PROBLEMS I SEE . . .

    Don’t get me wrong. M&D is an excellent reference; just as much as some experts within the hobby. Just more information is needed by “some” folks, for which, we, those with inquiring minds, just might be in the minority. Note: Do not get upset with me. I’m exercising my right to express an opinion. I’m not expecting a huge following or any miracles.

    • Distinguishing the correct color
    o Plastic or Fiber
    o Age makes a difference
    o Storage
    o Location of the token (Florida vs. Minnesota vs. Maine vs. Kansas)
     Environment can make a difference – humid vs. dry location
    o A basic set with predetermined colors defined
     Perhaps someone within ATTS would make up some basic sets that would include one of each color. I’d like one!
    • Not knowing whether the token was struck in “coin” or “medal” alignment.
    o I have one token that is 90° off – don’t know if it is from coin or medal alignment
    o Actually, I have dupes – all 90° off. Is this normal?
    • Was the “anvil die” fixed?
    • Making decisions for the collector
    o I quote: “Very few collectors would be served by such detail.”
    o Some of us have inquiring minds. We would like such detail!
    o Yes, we realize that the size of the book would probably be gigantic.
     Perhaps an expanded version would be available only on CD.
     Let the individual print from a CD should they have a desire.
    • Weight in grams for each struck ‘token’.
    • Type of paper, cardboard or ? Do we know if the paper is 20lb bond or a different weight?
    • Did any entity actually “cancel” their issue(s) by placing hole(s) in them?
    • With a lack of information, it is extremely difficult to ascertain whether or not we have a new discovery, regardless how remote that might be.
    • Sad part. Some of this information may be lost forever. Various “States” and their “Political Sub-Divisions” have rules for saving certain documents. Some information is kept in a separate facility that saves documents for “historical” importance; and yes, some is destroyed. The decision is based on the individuals’ concept of the intention of what should be saved.

  16. Monte

    The M&D, as you mentioned, is a superb volume that gives answers to a great many questions most STTS (Sales Tax Token & Scrip) collectors might have. Do remember that since this book was produced well before the internet was used by the masses and that Merlin and Tim did not have the advantage of eBay sales records, many of the listings are not correct on the rarity ratings. In most instances, especially on the non-state issue metal tokens, the actual rarity known is now considerably less than listed in the M&D. With any luck, I’ll have a new guide out that includes prices in up to 4 grades in the first half of next year. I’m finishing some of the toughest parts of the book now, so it will just be a matter of inserting hundreds of pictures and a few other odd chores that will probably require another 6 months (I hope). Even though Jerry (Schimmel) only intended for his little guide booklet to be used as nothing more than a filler until he and Mike Pfefferkorn finished “Chits, Chislers and Funny Money”, which was the very first real guide to STTs, many hundreds of collectors have been introduced to the subject with that neat little book. Nothing you learn from the M&D is wasted time, as it has been the standard work for 20 years. Sales Tax Tokens and Scrip; Identification and Price Guide builds on what has been researched before and includes the information discovered during the past two decades as well. Please DO NOT hesitate to write to Mike (in the contact file here) if you have an idea for writing your own article. Even if it is what you discover while searching through random batches of sales tax tokens. I always need to be reminded what the newest collector is interested in, and the questions they have, so I can insure I make the book understandable for everyone. I am certain there are other readers of the ATTSN (American Tax Token Society Newsletter), who would appreciate ANY new author!

  17. Mike

    For years I’ve had a small number of sales tax tokens without diving into the subject matter. It has been only recently that I have expanded my collection, and of course, knowledge. I’ve been collecting coins and paper money for years. There is one thing that is always preached to the coin collecting masses is this: “BUY THE BOOK BEFORE THE COIN”.

    I first bought Jerry Schimmel’s book. Upon comparing the sales tax tokens that I have, I quickly discovered that it didn’t quite fit my needs (sorry Jerry), however, it was valuable introduction into Sales Tax Tokens. I’ve discovered UNITED STATES SALES TAX TOKENS AND STAMPS: A HISTORY AND CATALOG by Merlin K. Malehorn and Tim Davenport. It is packed with a ton of information. This “M&D” book now is my book of reference. So here’s the pitch: “BUY THE SALES TAX TOKEN BOOK BEFORE THE SALES TAX TOKEN.”

  18. Monte

    Hey Mike, and All,

    Your mention of the consistency of excellence in the production of U.S. Coins by the mints assigned to produce them is true. However, please do not assume that all sales tax tokens (STTs) had equal levels of quality control, or lack thereof. There are some states which had tokens produced for them by companies that did have a very high level of error free production, such as Alabama and New Mexico. Although there are still error examples from both of those states, major errors are much less frequently encountered.

    Additionally, Oklahoma, all by itself, probably has as many errors, both major and minor, as all of the other 11 states combined. To, the type of materials used is considerably larger for state issued STTs. Aluminum, Brass, Copper, (Reported Gold and Silver for 2 states patterns), Zinc (a very hard material that ate up the dies very quickly), Light Cardboard for Scrip (WA), Paper for Scrip (Kentucky), stamp paper (for Ohio and a pattern from Michigan), Fiber - which in and of itself is a problem child, compressed cardboard (Oklahoma and Missouri), and a range of plastics produced from a completely different method of production (heated mold injection). If we look beyond state issued tokens, we can also find Wood (from Tenino, Washington and NORTH CAROLINA), and there are probably a few more that are not jumping up in my brain at this moment.

    If we consider the “real tokens” produced by merchants, counties, and cities, like the neat bunch from Illinois, we find that the number of errors (except a few minor die cracks and a 2% OC (off-center) once in a while) are extremely few. In fact, after 30 years of looking, I’ve never seen a single MAJOR ERROR (not minor) for one of those Illinois provisional issues. Those used many different mint facilities, as we have verified from our history inquiries (SEE STTS; H), so you would think that with so many different producers of those provisional issues you would find a major error once in a while, but you don’t.

    And as I mentioned, Oklahoma had more errors that all the other states combined. Part of that problem is simply the vast numbers of errors that occured with the compressed paper issued during the later part of that states STT history. These tokens were printed via lithography by a plate and if the cardboard on which they were printed were not properly aligned, even to a small degree, the result was tons of off-center, blank and double or chatter overprints. While the aluminum tokens for that state are much less frequently encountered with major errors, they still exist for that state more than for any other state.

    While I appreciate your connection from your numismatic background in trying to apply that experience to sales tax tokens I do give fair warning that sales tax tokens are ever so much more complicated than U.S. Federal issue. Yes, I have shelves full of books on U. S. Coins, all of which I’ve read, and many of which are many hundreds of pages thick for a single denomination or even a single type within a denomination. Even so, I can assure you that the collecting of STTs can prove more complicated than any of those issues (even to the determination of every single die type, wear accumulated, obverse and reverse die pairing, etc.).

    Additionally, anyone - and I do mean ANYONE - who devotes a year to establishing a serious collection of STTS (Sales Tax Tokens and Scrip) will probably discover something previous unreported. Finding something new that has never been reported is always a thrill.

    BUT - you need to know what has been reported. The M&D (Malehorn and Davenport) does a superb job of presenting information in an orderly manner. But if you look at past issues of the ATTSN (American Tax Token Society Newsletter), you will find instances where both Merlin and Tim sent in articles that were much, much more expansive than what was included in the catalogue itself. Additionally, it’s been a lot of years since that book was produced and we have reported many, many dozens of new discoveries since that publication. Get the CD from Bob. If you need his email, ask any of the connections so you can receive an email. We don’t publish emails in comments, of course.

    It’s always fun to talk with someone who has newly discovered are unique collecting niche. Please don’t hesitate to ask questions, but also make sure the answers haven’t been made readily available previously. Since you have the M&D, and have access to the ATTSN CD, those two items alone should keep you busy for a good long time.

    If you get interested enough to spend more money - I highly suggest Ohio Sales Tax Revenes, Sales Tax Tokens and Scrip; Histories, and Sales Tax Tokens and Scrip; Color Guide. Also, next year, will be the publication of Sales Tax Token and Scrip; Identification and Price Guide. Of course, I recommend these. My wife said I had to so we could get some out of the library closet! Monte

  19. Mike

    Thanks Monte. I am new to Sales Tax Tokens as a collectible, but not to Numismatics. When I see an oddity, such as die rotations, die cracks, et cetera, I’ll pull it aside. The US Mint is a very consientious group (theoretically) with a high set of ideals on producting a fine product (we hope) and we all know that they can goof up as well. But with token production, the companies who produced them usually don’t have much regard for quality control. They want to finish the production as fast as they can so that they can collect their fee. What the final product looks like — well, may not always match the original drawings or intentions. Its like throwing hand granades. You just got to get somewhere close. If there was purpose for the production to be coin vs medal alignment so that when there is a discovery of a die rotation, one needs the base information. I’ve noticed one issue where the opposite side is 90° rotated. I’m curious to find out if that was on purpose or an actual oops. I’ve never fit the ideals of the masses. I collect what meets my fancy and/or curiousity. Since I’m new to STT, the questions I ask is to satisfy a curiousity and perhaps spark interest for someone else who many have never thought in those areas. I’ve noticed that the M&D book makes several notations, one that come to mind, is for one issue, there are 56 combinations. If M&D would include that information, along with other such notations, it wouldn’t be long before the book would look the the NYC telephone book or an unabridge dictionary — a foot thick. I will try and secure a copy of the Color Guide and perhaps the CD. It’s the old story. I shoot an arrow …………. Thanks Monte. I appreciate the insight.

  20. Monte

    Recently published: Sales Tax Tokens and Scrip; Color Guide. This booklet has an easy system to match colors of tokens and scrip so that everyone is speaking exactly the same language. Price $27 including postage.

    Many STTS (Sales Tax Tokens & Scrip) collectors have provided significant information, including alignment of specific token types, in many back issues of the ATTS (American Tax Token Society) Newsletter. However, such things as minor errors (die cracks on zink tokens, for example), alignment of tokens (especially on injection molded plastic tokens), very minor die varieties which require considerable work and actual samples to properly evaluate (such as several of the Alabama state issues that have had many, many pages written about extremely minor die varieties) are all issues that you will probably not see in a standard catalogue (my own included) for two reasons.

    The first reason is simply that the number of people who have an interest in what I define as minutiae (although you might describe those passions differently) is relatively small. The majority of collectors shy away from extremely minor differences UNLESS they are very easy to define and understand. Most VERY MINOR differences (such as die rotations, which are nearly endless for some state issued tokens), simply hold little appeal to the “masses”. Most catalogues are simply not going to attempt to do more than give a definition and a method of discovery for those very minor varieties or very minor error types.

    The second reason is simply a lack of space. When a catalogue is issued, there has to be a well defined system of presentation so that anyone, including those with little prior knowledge about the subject, can easily follow the flow and build from the basics to the more complex issues within a specific collecting genre.

    It takes PAGES to present specifics about those very minor details. In fact, I have no doubt that if someone wanted to issue a 300 page book JUST about the die crack varieites on zinc 1 and 5 mill Missouri state issued tokens, it could be done. Likewise, die rotations, your specific request, is nearly as MINOR in the scheme of things, BECAUSE Die rotation will almost NEVER affect the RARITY OR VALUE of a token, even if it is a rotation that is infrequently seen. Though you may say that value or rarity issues should not affect the investigative process of discovering such incidentals, the bottom line to all that is that if it DOES NOT increase the DESIRE for ownership, i.e., Rarity or Value - it just plain doesn’t make much difference.

    It’s great fun to sit with a pile of tokens and discover new things, like die rotations, and report your findings to the ATTSN. But the likelihood that it would be included in a standard catalogue is infintismal. Regardless of the printer used the MAXIUMUM size hard bound book you can print today, if you are printing less than 2000 copies, is 900 pages.

    Believe me, you can’t get it all in 900 pages if you include very minor details as you suggest. Try back issues of the ATTSN to see what has been done (or buy a copy of the CD that has all of them up until a few years ago), or report your own findings on such things as die rotations.

    As I mentioned far above - the color matching system has been printed and works extremely well. I’ve tried it with non-collectors and it works better than 90% of the time, just from reading the information provided in that final catalogue. Collectors shoud have an even better rate of matching, as they won’t be my 10 year old grand daughter (as one of my test people) who really wanted to be outside with the dogs way more than sitting at a table with those silly papa tokens. Monte

  21. Mike

    There are two things I’d like to see. (1) Whether a token is supposed to be “coin alignment” or “medal alignment” or something different. (2) A color chart showing what the different colors, shades, tints, et cetera should show.

  22. Mike Strub

    This FAQ is really well written. I especially appreciate the kind mention of myself :) I would indeed love to correspond or talk to anyone interested in writing on the subject of sales tax tokens, for our newsletter.

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