Below is a catalog
or list of all known merchant or military chits relating to the Canal Zone
or Panama. It is unlikely that this catalog is
complete. If you have information or an image of a chit related to Panama or
the Canal Zone which is not listed in this catalog, please
Chits are coupons which are issued as money substitutes. In the case of this
catalog the chits were issued by military entities including a number of NCO Clubs,
the Canal Zone Commissary system and individual Panama merchants.
Chits were issued to
pay for meals in a cafeteria (or mess hall) setting, to purchase items at
a post exchange (similar to a general store), at the commissary (similar to
grocery store with general store items as well) or at a Panamanian general store.
The chits may have been issued to avoid handling cash or to assure authorized
users only in the case of the military and Canal Zone entities. In the case of
the Panama merchants, the chits may have been issued as a means of extending credit
or in lieu of small change during a shortage of coins.
Collecting these chits of Panama is a difficult task. Although not very
expensive when compared to certain other Panama collectibles,
they are very rare and hard to find.
There are two references or catalogs for the military chits, both of which are hard to find.
The more complete reference is Canal Zone Military Chits by Warren Lloyd
Plumer. The first attempt at cataloging these chits was called A Trail
Listing of Military Chits by Ruth Hill. This web site includes all the chits
in these earlier catalogs and quite a few more as well.
Included in the catalog list below is a rarity code for (C) Common, (S) Scarce, (R) Rare
and (RR) Very Rare. In parenthesis is the population count of specimens know to me,
a slash, and the count of different serial numbers known to me. This population count is
based on the two catalogs who listed chits and a few private collections. The rarity
code was determined based on the specimen count. Mintage is not known, except
by guessing based on the serial numbers extant.
Pricing is based on several factors, which ultimately are supply and demand. How many specimens
are available and how many collectors want them. With the chits, the supply is very
low but the demand is low as well. Since these chits are seen so seldom, there
is not much of a chance of building a pricing history, so there is a lot of
guesswork in these prices. If the field becomes popular, prices will skyrocket
because these items are so rare.
Cancelled chits were cancelled by the printer as lot examples and as quality checks.
For instance, during a press run they may hold back one book as a quality check.
A significant number of the chits in collector hands are cancelled. They are
worth about 2/3 as much as an uncancelled chit. They are cancelled by have holes punched in
them. Most have been cancelled by having little holes spelling "CANCELED" punched
across a page of five chits. Each chit has approximately two letters
(for example "CA", "NC", "EL" etc.)
punched out on it. Others have been cancelled with a single oval hole punched in
Time Line for Military Chits
||Events and Chit Changes
American Bases in Panama started
Two Digit City Codes implemented - Seen on Kelsey Coupon Company chit books
Kelsey Coupon Company - Type 1 design, chits serial numbers with no series letters
Kelsey Coupon Company - Type 1 design, chits with serial numbers with series letters
Kelsey Coupon Company - Type 1 design, chits cancelled with one hole
Zip Codes implemented - Seen on Kelsey-Tiemeyer Coupon chit books
Kelsey-Tiemeyer Coupon - Type 1 design, chits cancelled with multiple small holes
which spell "CANCELED".
Kelsey-Tiemeyer Coupon - Type 2 design, chits cancelled with multiple small holes
which spell "CANCELED".
Kelsey-Tiemeyer Coupon - Type 3 design, chits cancelled with multiple small holes
which spell "CANCELED".
Hill's Catalog is published, and includes chits with Type 1, Type 2 and Type 3 designs.
Plowman's Numbering System
All the chits have been designated with the letters "CT",
and grouped alphabetically by location and series, and then by denomination.
Each location and series is given a unique group number. Within each group,
each denomination is represented with a two digit number (such as .05 for 5 cents).
An example would be CT-7.05 for Albrook AFB/NCO Open Mess Series G (7)
five cents pink (.05). In lieu of location, the APO number may be used instead.
hereby granted to anyone to use the numbers below in referring to these tokens, in print or
electronic media, by calling them "Plowman's" at least once, or referencing www.coins-of-panama.com.
However, I reserve the right to assign all new numbers. Please
me when a new number is needed.
Some suggestions on how to reference a particular military chit by number would be
as CT-7.05 or as Chit #7.05. When adding supplementary information, besides the
issuing military base and the denomination, it is customary to mention the color
of the chit. For example the first chit below is
CT-7.05 (Albrook AFB NCO Open Mess Series G 5c Pink)
Click on the image or catalog number below to go to the full listing for