Military and Merchant Chits Catalog (CT)

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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 me.


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 Chits

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

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 each chit.

Time Line for Military Chits

Date Events and Chit Changes
1904 American Bases in Panama started
1943 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
1963 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".
1969 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.

Permission is 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 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 that piece.