Wooden nickel

A wooden nickel, in the United States, is wood token coin, which are usually issued by a merchant or bank as a promotion, sometimes redeemable for a specific item such as a drink. Wooden nickels were most commonly issued in the US in the 1930s, after the Great Depression.

It was during this decade that some banks and chambers of commerce in the United States issued wooden nickels with expiration dates to mitigate difficulties faced by merchants in making change at times of instability.

Common views published on the internet concerning the origin of the wooden nickel are patently incomplete, often making it an innovation of this late date that arose in response to such banking difficulties. Commemorative nickels are then supposed to be an outgrowth of these legitimate wooden nickels. However, collectible wooden nickels have been mentioned in print since at least 1888 [ [http://books.google.com/books?vid=0NPWwXdtr2GkQKzsu5&id=P_oMAAAAIAAJ&q=%22wooden+nickels%22+date:0-1940&dq=%22wooden+nickels%22+date:0-1940&pgis=1 "The Numismatist"] ] .

In more recent times wooden nickel trading has become more popular. Individuals can have their own personalized token made and then trade with others who also have had their own made. This is especially popular in geocaching.

In popular culture

An American adage, "Don't take any wooden nickels" is considered a lighthearted reminder to be cautious in one's dealings. This adage, too, precedes the use of wooden nickels as a replacement currency, suggesting that its origins lie not in the genuine monetary value of nickels but rather in their purely commemorative nature. However, such an interpretation should not be altogether ignored: gold-backed currency was in use in the United States until 1933, and 90% silver coins were still minted until 1965, 40% silver Kennedy half dollars were issued up to 1970.

"Wooden Nickels" is a song by Eels on the album "Daisies of the Galaxy".


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