On Friday, Oct. 5, collectors of coal mine scrip will gather at the Pine Mountain State Park near Pineville for the fall meeting of the National Scrip Collectors Association (NSCA).
The NSCA is a group of numismatics who collect coal mine scrip, lumber scrip, merchant and mill tokens, and mining paraphernalia of all kinds. Scrip was a form of credit that allowed employees to borrow an advance on their earnings in the form of tokens made of paper, metal, fiber or plastic which they could then use to purchase food, clothing, tools or other items at a commissary, or company store, located in the mining camp or company town. Scrip was issued in denominations from 1 cent to $20 and occasionally in odd denominations such as 2 ½ cents, 3 cents, 4 cents, or 12 ½ cents.
Although the most common form of scrip is that issued by coal companies, the tokens were also used by lumber camps, textile mills, railroads, packing plants and other industries. Country stores also issued “merchant tokens” as a form of credit, tokens which could be redeemed only at the business issuing them. More than 150 different mines issued scrip in Bell County, more than 100 in Lee County, Va., more than 200 in Harlan County, and more than 50 in Claiborne County, Tenn. In addition, coal companies in more than 25 states from California and Washington to Pennsylvania, issued scrip. Lumber companies all over North America also issued scrip.
The NSCA will open its meeting to the public from noon until 5 p.m. on Oct. 5, and from 8 a.m. to noon on Oct. 6. Visitors are welcome to attend at no charge. Membership to the NSCA is open to the public and annual dues are $20. Books on scrip will be offered, scrip will be available for sale or trade, and collections may be appraised at no charge at the meeting.
The meeting at Pineville is being hosted by Crawford Blakeman Sr. of Middlesboro and Steve Cawood of Pineville.