Leper colony coins?

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by fretboard, Oct 6, 2009.

  1. fretboard

    fretboard Defender of Old Coinage!

    Does anyone collect these? Was there any gold made? I have one in my collection, I'll have to post a pic sometime later as I'm at work. Anyone collect any Leper tokens? I'd really like to see one of those, maybe tokens are worth more money and are more collectable. The only tokens I've seen so far are cheap replicas. Anyone?


    LEPER COLONY MONEY
    By Dennis Marr

    Leprosy. It's a disease we seldom hear about, and yet millions of
    people, perhaps 15 to 30 million, are afflicted with it. Throughout
    history, lepers have nearly always been shunned, and forced to leave their
    families and possessions and live apart. Because of this isolation, lepers
    had to develop their own money, to be used only by lepers.

    During the first half of the twentieth century, it was a common
    practice in many countries, including the U.S., to forcibly confine people
    with leprosy to special institutions. This was because the disease was
    believed to be highly contagious.

    In some countries, special coins, tokens or paper money were made for
    use within these institutions, which came to be called "leper colonies."
    In fact, the United States used special coins at its colonies in the Panama
    Canal Zone and in the Philippines, when they were under U.S. jurisdiction.

    As medical knowledge of the disease advanced, medical experts
    eventually realized that leprosy could not be spread by handling the
    so-called "contaminated" money that lepers had touched. In most cases, the
    special money was discontinued in the 1940s and 1950s. The remaining
    examples of it were usually withdrawn and destroyed. Because of this, and
    because coin collectors were reluctant to handle the coins, most leper
    colony money today is difficult to find.

    Leprosy is now called "Hansen's Disease." And although great strides
    have been made in the treatment of the disease, we still hear sick people
    cry out for being "treated like a leper."

    Leper colony coins and tokens serve as stark reminders of a time when
    people with leprosy were denied their freedom and common human dignity.

    This has been "Money Talks." Today's program was written by Dennis
    Marr
     
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  3. ksparrow

    ksparrow Coin Hoarder

    They are often seen in sales of Philippine coins, I think they are interesting and would like to own some. There was a leper colony on one of the Hawaiian Islands, does anyone know if it had its own money?
     
  4. hontonai

    hontonai Registered Contrarian

    The early 20th Century Japanese Leprosarium coins are on my wish list, but I've only ever found one dealer who had ever seen one, and he sold it more than 20 years ago! Krause doesn't even bother giving a value for most of them.
     
  5. Drusus

    Drusus Pecunia non olet

    you thought you heard it all but then you realize you havent. Interesting topic. Please post some if you have them.
     
  6. Collect89

    Collect89 Coin Collector

    Here are my examples from the Columbian Leprosy Colony. Pardon the spelling error on the holder:smile.
     

    Attached Files:

  7. Collect89

    Collect89 Coin Collector

    True story, I’ve seen it a couple times.

    One of my friendly dealers keeps a small pile of these on his table. It’s an attractive nuisance. Inevitably, someone will reach across the table & start knocking them around asking what they are. When they learn that they are touching Leper colony coinage, they stop fingering the coins pretty quickly. After some small talk, they usually make a beeline walk to the men’s room to wash their hands.
     
  8. fretboard

    fretboard Defender of Old Coinage!

    There's an old Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman movie named Papillon and there's a small part where McQueen goes into a Leper colony and has to share a cigar with a badly deformed leper. Great part!! It's an old movie from the 70's but if you've seen it I'm sure you remember that part. Anyways I was just having a flashback from the old days, funny how that happens. :D
     

    Attached Files:

  9. pappy-o

    pappy-o coinoisseur

    Great movie , but to puff on that cigar :crying: don't know ?
     
  10. Collect89

    Collect89 Coin Collector

    I believe the Leper guy says something like "How did you know my disease isn't contagious?” Then McQueen says something like "I didn't know". That seals their friendship & deal somehow.
     
  11. yakpoo

    yakpoo Member

    I bought one on eBay a few years ago. It didn't cost much and was a great conversation piece. I'm not sure if the one I have is real. I think it's made of aluminum. I'm not sure what I did with it, either. I'm sure it's packed in a box somewhere.
     
  12. volker00

    volker00 Coin Collecting Noob

    Wow! I have never heard of these coins. I want one!
     
  13. Drusus

    Drusus Pecunia non olet

    They arent unattractive coins...thanks for posting this.
     
  14. Conder101

    Conder101 Numismatist

    I have a complete of both the Phillipines and Columbian leper colony coins. I lack two pieces of being complete for the Venezuelan colonies (there are three of them). I have one piece from the Palo Seco colony in Panama. I have had the chance twice at a set of the Brazilian set but couldn't swing it at the time. I have pictures of the Japanese pieces and have tried to buy one piece but so far no success. Something I am quite proud of is that I have two pieces of Phillipines leper colony PAPER MONEY. The leper colony coins when seen tend to always be heavily cleaned and scrubbed for sterilization purposes. But how do you sterilize paper currency? Basically you can't without destroying it completely. For that reason very little ever left the colony. The two colonies in the United States (Hawaii and Louisiana) both use regular US coins and currency.
     
  15. pappy-o

    pappy-o coinoisseur

    Wow, thats amazing, I never knew they existed, interesting :)
     
  16. pappy-o

    pappy-o coinoisseur

    Geeezzzzzzz I remember that scene :hug: :bigeyes:
     
  17. fretboard

    fretboard Defender of Old Coinage!

    Yeah here's a link that shows some of the coinage. The Nagashima-Aisei colony coins are really cool looking. I've come across most of the usual suspects like the Culion colony coins and Venezuela coinage on ebay but I've never seen the Japanese coins till I looked at this link, very cool!!

    http://oldfortcoinclub.org/Documents/LEPER_COLONY.pdf

     
  18. yakpoo

    yakpoo Member

    Thanks for the link! The coin I have is the Culion 1/2 Centavo. I hand it to folks to look at and it's funny how fast they want to hand it back. :D
     
  19. Conder101

    Conder101 Numismatist

    That link is an expanded "show an tell" talk by my father at the Old Fort Coin Club. (I'm the newsletter editor.) Except for the Brazilian CST piece and the Nagashima-Aisei colony coins the rest of the pieces are from our collection.
     
  20. yakpoo

    yakpoo Member

    Very COOL!!! These are really interesting coins!

    Any idea how much the Culion 1/2 Centavo is worth? I think I paid about $6 (including S&H) for mine. I didn't think it was a real coin, but (from this thread) I guess it is...live & learn.
     
  21. Collect89

    Collect89 Coin Collector

    Coincidentally, here is a news snippet regarding the leprosy colony in Hawaii-

    POPE ELEVATES 5 NEW SAINTS, 1 FOR WORK IN HAWAII: BENEDICT PRAISES FATHER DAMIEN, WHO WORKED WITH LEPROSY PATIENTS: Pope Benedict XVI canonized five new saints Sunday, including a 19th century priest whose work with leprosy patients on a Hawaiian island has been hailed by U.S. President Barack Obama as inspiring those helping AIDS sufferers in today's world.
     
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