Curious Coins and Tokens From Parking Meter

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by Björn Schöpe

August 4, 2011 – Inside these parking meters in Rhode Island there have been lots of World War II-era 10-pfennig pieces from Germany bearing a German eagle on the tail side, its talons clutching a swastika. Maybe these coins arrived with returning wartime GIs. They used them in parking meters finding free postwar parking. But nobody can give a convincing explanation for all the exotic coins from India and Pakistan.

In a corner of City Hall’s attic, archivist Paul R. Campbell found a dozen canvas bank bags – full of coins, tokens, slugs and inexplicable discs, thousands of them poured out when Mr. Campbell severed the seals.

“Amazing what people will put in parking meters.” This is his guess why public officials accumulated the hoard. Coins from 28 countries have been identified besides tokens from defunct transportation agencies. Foreign coins from 1844, a U.S. penny with a hole – or even with four holes. No one can give an explanation for these curiosities. The range of objects covers brass coins, steel coins, red plastic discs – whatever the parking meter accepted.

Mr Campbell explains the story of the “United Electric Railway. A. E. Potter, Pres. Good for One Fare”, a token of a Railway company gone bankrupt in 1966. The archivist isn’t sure if the collection is worth anything, but he plans to consult a coin dealer.

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